Local youth attain leadership skills at chamber-sponsored class

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Every year, the Monticello-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce sponsors and hosts an opportunity for the youth of Jefferson County to develop leadership skills, learn about their local career avenues and network with businesses and community leaders.
This opportunity, called the Junior Leadership Class, is designed to introduce the community's future leaders to careers, academic paths and opportunities within their hometown – as well as to inspire them to take a proactive role, as a student, in guiding and building Jefferson County.
"Our opportunities are endless as long as we continue to invest in our youth," said Julius Hackett after last year's class. Hackett is the CEO of the Tri-County Electric Co-op as well as one of the leadership class' significant supporters.
This year, nine high schoolers – most of whom are juniors at their school – are participating in the chamber's Junior Leadership Class of 2020.
The class conducted its first meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 30, with a trip to the Jefferson County Courthouse.
At the courthouse, which is located with the county seat of Monticello, the students learned about their nation's court system through sitting in on a jury selection as well as a live trial.
"The students were really interested in the outcome of the trial and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the process of a jury trial," writes Chamber Executive Director Katrina Richardson.
Lunch was served that day by Monticello's Brick House Eatery and sponsored by Tri-County Electric.
The second meeting of the class was conducted on Wednesday, Nov. 13.
The November gathering of the Leadership Class brought the students to a meeting with the Tri-County Electric Team, who taught the students several problem-solving techniques as well as ways of being a simple, but positive influence.
The young leaders were inspired to make decisive, positive impacts on those around them. They could accomplish this by building others up instead of tearing their peers down, by giving others the benefit of the doubt before making crucial judgments and finding something good about everyone they meet.
The Tri-County Electric Team also stressed the importance of handshake etiquette and walked the students through team-building exercises.
Lunch was again sponsored by Tri-County Electric Co-op, with Italian cuisine from Mafia Pizza being delivered to the class.
After lunch, the students toured Monticello's Old Jail. They also visited several vintage and retail shops in downtown Monticello, where they learned about products offered locally and were able to conclude the afternoon with a scavenger hunt at a local antique shop.
This class is offered annually to any interested high school student within Jefferson County, and this year, the course is comprised of a majority of high school juniors: Joey Davis, Esther Fulford, Riley Hamrick, MaryRose Schwier, Will Sullivan, Anna Lee Trest, Makayla Walker and Olivia Walton as well as one senior, Albree Shiver.