Summit equips youth with skills for the 'game' of life

  • Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Leaders of all ages gathered April 5-7 for the 2019 Missouri Youth Civic Leaders Summit at the Windermere Conference Center near Camdenton. Youth and adult teams represented 20 county 4-H programs and Missouri Community Betterment (MCB) groups across the state.

Event organizers say the theme of the summit chosen by youth planning members, “LIFE: Game On!” took on even more meaning when the original conference in March had to be canceled due to a large snowstorm across the region.

“Life happens,” said Teresa Snyder, MCB executive director and conference coordinator, “but the planning team, presenters, Windermere staff and community groups all came together and found a way to hold the event one month later. It was not easy, but rescheduling the summit actually gave students and adults an even greater chance to show resilience and to work together toward a common goal.”

Chet Sisk, social futurist from Denver, kicked off the weekend, speaking on how the world is changing and describing key trends every leader should follow to stay out in front.

Brad Lademann, coordinator of the Missouri Afterschool Resource Center, engaged students in thinking about career paths and beyond, and how activities in and out of school prepare them for life.

Brandon Lee White, Own It Movement speaker from Kansas City, got attendees moving with interactive dance demonstrations and messages about responsibility, character and leadership.

As out-of-state guests for the weekend, 4-H teens from LaPorte and Porter counties in northern Indiana shared fundraising, community service and teens-as-teachers program examples with their peers.

Summiteers participated in breakout sessions on youth empowerment, inclusive leadership, juggling life’s stresses and career preparation. They joined in afternoon on-the-spot service projects, making a variety of items ranging from baby hats for premature infants to meal place mats for homebound seniors. 4-H and MCB donated the items to local service agencies after the conference.

Teams wrapped up the weekend by each planning and presenting a civic engagement project they intend to implement in their communities during 2019.

Youth conference hosts included high school students serving on the Missouri Community Betterment youth advisory board and 4-H teens from the Urban West Region (Clay, Jackson and Platte counties). Youth hosts poured months into pre-conference planning, and co-facilitated many of the weekend activities alongside adult planning team members.

Sponsors of the YCLS 2019 conference include Monsanto Co., Missouri Community Betterment  and the Missouri 4-H Foundation.


More than 55,000 members strong, Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. For more information, visit

Missouri Community Betterment, established in 1963, is designed to help Missouri communities enhance their quality of life through community development, planning and implementation. MCB lends technical assistance recognizing and awarding communities that excel in the program. For more information, visit

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Steven Henness

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