The first week of June brought excitement to 67 students from Pierz, Little Falls, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, and Browerville schools as they ended their school year and loaded the bus to attend the 2014 Together We Lead Youth Leadership Retreat at St. John’s University.
Following the theme, Together We Lead, students were exposed to different styles of leadership and ways to utilize each style to create effective teamwork. The retreat kicked off with guest speaker, Tracy Flynn-Bowe, a dynamic speaker who delivered a high-energy presentation that allowed students to discover their personality style and opportunities for growth.
Students experienced a challenge course that presented several different challenges that nourished the growth of personal strengths as well as utilizing the different leadership personality traits to overcome every obstacle presented to each group.
Under the direction of six recent graduates from Pierz and Little Falls, students were guided through the process on how to implement new ideas in their school or community. Students practiced their leadership and teamwork skills, accentuating the strengths of their personality styles. Students learned the value of recognizing and appreciating different personality styles through student leader presentations, discussions, and interactions.
The day wrapped up with speaker Robert Bell, a professor at the University of St. John’s, who spoke on the importance of being your true self and utilizing your strengths to reach your full potential in life.
“Student leadership is crucial for effective youth substance use prevention,” said Katie Gruber, community health educator with Morrison County Public Health. This has been a key component of substance use prevention work by community coalitions and student groups in several area communities. These include the Pierz Area Coalition (PAC), Stand Up 4 U Coalition (SU4U) in Little Falls, Citizens Against Drugs (CAD) in Todd County, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Teens Standing Strong (TSS), Browerville Youth Educating About Healthy Choices (YEAH©), Pierz EPIC (Encouraging Positive Influences and Choices), Little Falls EPIC and TARGET groups.
Students in these groups are using their leadership skills and volunteering their time to encourage all students to make healthy decisions about refraining from substance use during their high school years. The annual leadership retreat was made possible through grant funds from the Minnesota Department of Human Services-Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Our youth are daring to influence, lead and empower everyone they meet to succeed and fulfill their dreams every single day,” said Gruber.