Mon, Nov 19, 2018 at 10:00 PM
From tourism to community service, high school juniors learn how leadership leads to opportunities in many different fields.
Marshall County Youth Leadership kicked off its new year in September with students working together on their team-building skills, and has continued through the fall with a community service day and getting a first-hand look at the impact of tourism on Marshall County.
The 37 students from nine high schools across Marshall County – plus one home-schooler – applied and were interviewed for selection in the program. They spend one day each month throughout the school year to learn out about their home county, as well as professionalism, etiquette and other qualities of a leader.
MCYL is sponsored by Marshall Medical, the Marshall County Leadership Challenge Alumni, and Citizen’s Bank and Trust.
The students had their first meeting at LifePoint Church in Albertville where they maneuvered over a ropes course where they had to lean on each other to keep from falling. Inside, students had to coordinate every step as they walked around a circle made of small wood blocks. They even had to navigate an obstacle course while blindfolded, relying on their fellow students for direction.
Leadership students spent their October meeting seeing the sights of Marshall County and learning that tourism is big business.
The 37 juniors who make up the current MCYL group started their day touring Arab’s Historic Village, followed by a walk through Cathedral Caverns and a bus tour of Lake Guntersville State Park.
Speaking to students over breakfast, Andrea Oliver, director of the Foundation for Marshall Medical Centers, told students to work on their strengths.
“Ask yourself what are my skills and how do I leverage them into what I want to do,” Oliver said. “If you can identify one thing you’re good at, you can jump to others.”
Katy Norton, president of Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, told students tourism is the largest industry in the county. More than $224 million were spent by visitors to the area last year.
“We are growing tourism,” she said.
A half-million people head to the state park every year and another 40,000 tour Cathedral Caverns.
“Our outdoor activities are very popular,” Norton said.
Naturalist Michael Ezell thrilled students with his pet corn snake Cotton, which he passed around for students to hold, but warning them against picking up snakes they find
For November, MCYL students got first-hand experience in the servant side of leadership as they shopped for Christmas gifts for less fortunate children.
Marshall County Christmas Coalition enlisted their help to shop for 30 children during their Community Service day. Their assignment was to stretch the $100 donated for each child. They had one hour at Wal-Mart to do it.
Community Service day began at Progress Rail in Albertville, where 11 non-profits were on-hand to explain their mission and to offer students volunteer opportunities.
Ed O’Neal, vice president of leadership development at Progress Rail, talked to students about how important community service is to the global company.
“If you ask every leader in this county, they would say community service and giving back to the community is very important,” O’Neal said. “The best leaders are servants first.”
Students then had lunch at the Boaz Senior Center, where they helped serve meals and dined with seniors after playing pool, darts, corn hole and bingo with them.
This year’s MCYL students are:
Emma Claire Burns
Ethan Golson (home-schooled)