Youth develop leadership, public speaking, relationship skills as part of Branch County project

In March, Connie Lange, Michigan State University Extension 4-H educator, organized a Dale Carnegie Training course for youth in grades seven to 12 as part of the Branch County Youth Leadership Development Project. Phil Zeller of the Ralph Nichols Dale Carnegie Program taught the sessions in Lansing each Saturday in March.

Connie not only served as facilitator and coordinator of the program, but also played a key role in securing scholarships for the youth participants. The Dale Carnegie program was offered for $800 (a $200 discount), and in coordination with The Dearth Estate in Coldwater, eight Branch County youth were given a full scholarship while 28 were able to attend for only $75. Of those 28, the 24 participants with perfect attendance were refunded the $75 fee through the Branch County 4-H Foundation.

A graduation was held the evening of Tuesday, March 29, in which participants were asked to share what they learned about themselves, about leadership, and about changes in their lives as a result of participating in the program. According to Brad Neumann, District 13 coordinator, participant after participant shared, with nearly 100 family members and perfect strangers in the room, how the program helped them foster more positive relationships in school and within their families, become more comfortable with themselves and appreciative of the differences of others, improve public speaking skills, and develop aspirations of leadership.

It is evident that Connie is a driving force behind youth leadership development in Branch County. She and the Branch County Youth Leadership Development Committee also developed and conducted the Take the Lead leadership training program. The Take the Lead and the Dale Carnegie Training Course are programs offered an alternating yearly basis. Take the Lead helps youth in grades six to eight develop skills and personal attributes around character, challenge, communication and community. Great work, Connie!

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