By DiAnn Butler
The young people of Grand County have a desire to be more involved in community decision-making, especially as it relates to issues like job opportunities, community improvement and recreation.
More than half of the middle school and high school students indicated they would like to live in Grand County in the future. And, over 80 percent of the respondents said they would volunteer if asked by an adult to help with a program to improve the community.
Those were some of the findings of a Youth Assessment Study that was recently completed by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship under the guidance of the Grand County Office of Economic Development (GCED).
One of the seven core goals of the Grand County Office of Economic Development is the Education and Training of the Future Workforce in Grand County. With that goal in mind, it has been an objective of GCED to involve youth whenever possible in activities addressing economic growth in Grand County.
The opinion of high school students was sought during the Downtown Colorado Inc.’s Downtown Assessment project in Kremmling. Their answers and opinions were among the most candid and revealing of the day.
In the summer of 2014, the Center for Rural Development was contracted to conduct a countrywide youth assessment, develop a five-year youth engagement action plan and facilitate a youth entrepreneurship summer camp in the summer of 2015.
The Youth Engagement Action Plan Retreat was held in January and the attendees decided to focus on getting more involved with specific local government entities like the town council and the chamber of commerce. They also decided to work towards presenting an idea to their local school boards to develop a business internship program that could be used to satisfy the community service requirement for high school graduation.
During the Youth Engagement Process, it has been significant to learn that young people are very aware of their communities and they have a desire to see improvements. They want to improve their quality of life and they want to do so through community involvement, with viable employment opportunities and an increase in recreational options.
That passion dovetails nicely with the goal of educating and training a future workforce. It has the beginnings of a mutually beneficial relationship.
DiAnn Butler is Grand County Economic Development Coordinator. More information is available here.