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Mayor’s Cabinet on Young People
Wednesday, January 7, 2009 - - 3:00 p.m. - - A101

Present: Mayor Brown, Pat Berger, Lisa Burger, Mary Lien, Larry Nybladh, John Staley, Jerry Youngberg, Myron Barnes, Judith Konerza, Dean Opp, Carrie Schumacher, Kayla Erickson, Pete Haga.

I. Introductions.
II. Introduction of New Members.

Cabinet Members introduced themselves and stated which organization they were representing.
New attendees to the cabinet this month were: Myron Barnes, Boy Scouts of America; Judith Konerza, Parent Information Center Coordinator for Grand Forks Schools; Dean Opp, Grand Forks Schools; Carrie Schumacher, NDSU Ext. Office; Kayla Erickson, LaGrave Center Youth Program Director.

III. Grand Forks Youth Commission Update.

Haga reported that the Commission had their first meeting as a group in December and thanked Lien and Konerza for the ice breaker that they ran. Principals will be added to the email list for notices of the youth commission meeting so they keep informed of what the group is working on.

The group discussed the items that the Commission is hoping to deal with this year – officer election, in-school survey results, elections and mission statement, projects for community involvement. Berger noted that there is a mission statement on the website for the Youth Commission. Haga explained that was drafted actually by adults and was hoping to replace it with one that comes from the youth, as it is their commission. The group discussed that the youth did come up with a word list and focus statements that they were planning to use towards the creation of their mission statement and that perhaps that could be melded with the adult generated one. The concern is in the amount of time we have to work with the youth and that we want them to be able to accomplish something this year and not be bogged down with only accomplishing administrative things this year. It was noted that youth like to be able to “do” things and lose interest when there is too much discussion and no opportunity to act.

The group discussed whether youth would be comfortable enough with each other to elect officers so soon with so many new people. Konerza brought up Students Today Leaders for Life and that there is a co-leadership style that some groups are moving to and they alternate who’s in charge and perhaps that would work well with the Commission. This style of leadership helps alleviate the “20% doing 80% of the work” syndrome that happens in many groups. The group discussed that there needs to be a couple of strong leaders that step up and are willing to take on these roles.

The group discussed that there is currently not a connection with the teen page (in GF Herald), but perhaps should explore trying to establish a link and then have a corner for Youth Commission update as way to share information with the community as to what the commission is involved in. Haga stated that the rep that handles that was at the last cabinet meeting and are working on them to continue to be involved.

Haga expressed concern with the short number of meetings left, only 5 before school is out and a lot of items still to resolve with limited time each month. The group discussed that youth get most satisfaction from accomplishing a project and can’t bog them down with so much administrative items that they loose interest. The group discussed that this will be good building year for the group and perhaps could have goal of getting at least an executive board of the commission in place before the end of the year so could get earlier start next year. Also, perhaps would help youth to get a list of what is available and attainable for the commission to take on so they don’t get too focused on unattainable things. Mayor Brown noted that in the past have tried to keep the ideas as youth generated since its their commission.

Staley asked what the accomplishments of the Cabinet have been. Haga stated that they came up with the structure to start the Youth Commission, assisted with completion of the America’s Promise application which has led to us winning the America’s Best Communities Award. Staley sated that he would still like to see the Cabinet work on compiling a list of the activities available to youth in the community and get that on all websites – city, school, etc., and would contribute towards facilitating that getting done. Haga stated that along with that the Cabinet has discussed preparing a report card to measure how they are doing at meeting the needs of youth in the community and still need to work on that. Burger stated that perhaps some of the information that Kids Count tracks would help and perhaps could utilize Culture Pulse website for getting out info on activities. Konerza stated that National Night Out has booths from a lot of the smaller opportunities and helped them get information out about their programs. She stated that need to decide whether focus is giving to the community or taking part in what’s there.

Lien stated that she believes that youth want to be needed and know that they are valuable to the community, want to know that they are cared about, that they have a voice, and that they want to dissuade risky behaviors of their peers.

Packett added that also need to make sure that the projects they attempt are attainable and maybe as mentors need to guide them a little in this. Barnes stated that with their programs, let the youth know what resources they have available to work with and then let them plan their year and have been very successful with that. The group discussed that perhaps big focus of next meeting needs to be what project they are going to do this year and tie that into their mission. The group discussed that once the survey results are discussed that may lead to ideas for the project as well.

The group discussed using the ice breaker as a discussion vehicle for the mission statement and then come back discuss the surveys and then tie the two together. Nybladh added that perhaps also including America’s Promise principles in the discussion may be helpful, as that was one of the founding platforms for the cabinet and the commission. He suggested maybe letting them come up with 2 projects – 1 for themselves, which maybe is a dance again, but then also doing 1 to benefit the community and asking them what we as mentors could provide them to help them accomplish the projects. The group discussed that maybe finalizing project ideas and narrowing the mission statement could be homework for the February meeting to help things move along.

Opp stated that he thinks it could be o.k. to let them consider unattainable projects, but then encourage them to present those ideas to a larger group, such as perhaps the City or City Council and explain why the project could be important and benefit the community.

The group discussed also making sure to emphasize that the commissioners are not only a voice for themselves or their friend group, but for the student body of their school. Perhaps Mayor Brown could attend the next meeting and challenge the students to come up with the projects and accomplish them by the end of the year.

IV. Website/Channel 15/Channel 2 Communication.

This item will be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting.

V. GF County Youth Commission

Schumacher stated that Cass County has a youth commission that is countywide and meets once a month from 9:30-3:00 and work on leadership skills, team building, and visit county departments and agencies and learn about what they do. She continued that the hope is to start a similar commission for Grand Forks County and wanted the Cabinet to be aware of the plans. Pete stated that it sounds very similar to the Chamber Leadership program for adults and that used to have a youth leadership program, but not held in the last couple of years.

VI. Leadership Event Discussion.

Barnes provided some handouts detailing leadership training camp opportunities that are offered by the Boy Scouts at their camp near Park Rapids, MN and that they would be available to offer these to Commission members or other youth groups. He added that there are a variety of programs including high and low ropes courses and other various programs and cost is reasonable, some at $35 per participant including lodging and food.

VII. Adjournment

Next meeting will be February 4, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. Items for continued discussion will be a Commission update, full activity list creation, and update on County Youth Commission.

Respectfully submitted,

Sherie Lundmark
Admin Spec Sr.