Salute to youth

6 leaders chosen from 98 participants to represent area at national convention

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Sara Scharf speaks with the NCYL Youth chosen to go on to the Town Meeting of Tomorrow national convention in St. Louis, after the recognition ceremony Sunday. Ninety-eight students from around the area were honored for their acceptance into the National Council on Youth Leadership.

It took a lot of work for the 98 students to make it to the stage at the National Council on Youth Leadership recognition ceremony.

Those students should be proud of what they accomplished — and also very grateful for the opportunity they’ve been given, and the people who helped them along the way, speakers said at the 26th annual Youth Salute, held at the bioscience auditorium at Iowa Central Community College.

“You all should be proud of getting here today,” said Ashton Acree, Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, who was recognized at the NCYL ceremony last year.

Acree was one of the area students honored last year with a free trip to the Town Meeting of Tomorrow in St. Louis.

Twelve semi-finalists were named at the ceremony Sunday night, with six chosen as finalists to attend the meeting.

Six youth leaders from area schools will travel to the Town Meeting of Tomorrow in St. Louis this year.

Even though weather caused their group to arrive late last year, Webster City High School Graduate Katie Greenfield said it was well worth the trip.

“I distinctly remember saying, ‘I have found my people,'” Greenfield said. “This will flip your world upside-down.”

Dawn Larson, business affairs specialist for the city of Fort Dodge, spoke to the students about gratitude.

“Realize that the life you have, the life you have been given is a gift, not an assumed entitlement. In fact, dive deeper, and recognize that every breath you take, every day that is given to you is a gift,” Larson said. “I want you to begin this evening by being thankful and grateful for the fact that you are here. Your thanks and your gratitude will align your attitude to a place of appreciation. And where there is appreciation, there is duplication.

“If we focus on what we don’t have, you will never have enough. But if we concentrate on what you do have, you will always have more.”

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Ashton Acree, Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, speaks at the NCYL Youth Salute Sunday night. Acree was one of the students sent to the Town Meeting of Tomorrow last year.

At least one of those six finalists knew exactly what Larson was talking about.

“It’s a great honor. I have to give a lot of credit to my parents, and my coaches,” said Austin Lampman, of Webster City High School. “Football Coach Howard from Webster City High School and both of my parents have really molded me into basically their image, I would say. That’s made me who I am today.”

Lampman is active in football, track and field, and baseball.

“I’m pretty heavily involved in my church and my community as well,” he said.

Another of the six, Laura Stowater, of Algona Community High School, was eager to take the trip.

“I think it’s really exciting, and it’s a great opportunity to meet other people who really care about being leaders for tomorrow, and helping other people out,” Stowater said.

Speakers that evening had spoken of the daunting interview process that was part of the application.

“I don’t think it was that hard, but I’ve been involved in other activities that do involve interviews,” said Stowater.

In addition to serving as her county fair’s junior miss in the past, Stowater is actively involved in science fair, so is put on the spot to answer questions pretty frequently, she said.

She’s also involved in band, piano lessons, swim team, and student senate.

Asked about the interview questions, Stowater said, “I thought I had a good answer for what my biggest accomplishment was, or what makes me a good leader.

“I said I was a good leader because I try to relate to other people, and treat other people with kindness and respect that I would want.”

Lampman had another perspective.

“I think the greatest question was what are my weaknesses,” Lampman said, “because it’s a lot easier to talk about your weaknesses than your strengths I think.”

Each of the 98 students was given a packet including a scholarship to Iowa Central, a certificate, a book donated by Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, and something special — a packet of five thank you notes.

Casey Johnson, NCYL board member and owner of Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, encouraged the students to pick five people who had inspired them and send a personal note of thanks–not by text or email, but handwritten.