On Wednesday, April 28th, 2021 the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County hosted 46 sophomores and juniors for the very first Envision class.
What is Envision?
Envision is a one day youth leadership summit that focuses on personal development, career readiness, and community connection. The overall goals for this program are to give students the opportunity to Envision a future where they are encouraged to find growth, support, engagement, and opportunity within their community. Through doing so, students are able to connect with like-minded individuals, feel inspired to continue growing, and let their voices be heard.
This year, we piloted the program with Kearney Catholic High School and Kearney High School, with future goals of making this a Buffalo County wide program. This year's summit included the following programming: hearing from community leaders, learning more of how students can use their skills and strengths for the future, and putting their skills to the test with some practice speed interviews.
We started the day off with a Community Leader Panel featuring: Jon Watts - UNK; Megan Goeke - Hello Beautiful Bridal and Formal Wear; Shana Dahlgren - KAAPA Ethanol Holdings; Judi Sickler - Kearney Area Community Foundation; Norris Marshall - BluePrint Engines; Linette Butler - BD Construction; Kelly Christensen - Central Community College. The students had a chance to learn about how each of these leaders made their way or way back to Kearney, how they use their strengths in their position, and what challenges they have faced being a leader.
Leading up to Envision, each student completed the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment, where they learned about their top five strengths. At the event, students received the opportunity to delve deeper into their strengths with Brenda Jochum from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. From here, students attended breakout sessions to learn on an individual level about their strengths.
Samantha Smith- EDCBC and Megan Berry- Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce led the other morning breakout sessions where students focused on how to have a conversation and phone etiquette through interpersonal skills. Students also learned how they can exude their inner confidence when in a professional setting and how to utilize these skills in their personal life from Kari Printz- Ktown Cakery. These skills prepared the students for their afternoon speed interview breakout session.
Over the lunch hour, the group heard from the CEO of Kearney Regional Medical Center (KRMC), Bill Calhoun. Bill talked with the students about his career path and the leadership role he plays at KRMC. The students were able to ask questions while eating their lunch provided by KRMC.
As the youth leadership summit shifted into the afternoon, the students experienced three different afternoon breakout sessions. One session was about Educational Loans where the students heard from Travis Stocker - FNBO, Emily Ridgeway - FNBO, and Becca Dobry - UNK. They learned how to prepare now for getting the financial support they need for their education post-high school and how these important decisions can affect their future financial goals.
The most favored part of the day was our speed interview session, where students had the opportunity to practice their confidence and conversation skills on professionals in the community. This session would not have been able to happen without our amazing volunteers. Thank you to: Addy Salas - Buckle; Angela Smith - Kearney Works; Bob Hastings - KPS; Brad Mailahn - West Pharmaceutical Services; Carrie Bruno - Cash-Wa; Carrie Whiting - SCORR Marketing; Connor Smith - Farm Credit Services of America; Kari Printz - Ktown Cakery; Kristen Sedlacek - NSEA; Megan Goeke - Hello Beautiful Bridal & Formal Wear & Midlands Contracting; Michelle Engel - Eaton Corporation; Ryan Dennhardt - Ward Laboratories; Shanna Schulte - Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce; Shawna Erbsen - City of Kearney; Stacey Weaver - Chief Agri; and Steve Beck - KRMC.
The last breakout session of the afternoon was our Business Attire presentation. The students
heard from Stacey Johnson - Edith Joi Boutique and Tammy Valentin - Gary Michael's Clothiers. Students learned about the different dress looks in the business world, along with tips and tricks of how to successfully build a work-ready wardrobe.
After the afternoon breakout sessions, the students came together to talk about the issues that they are facing at their schools and how they can be the leaders that can make a change. This conflict and resolution practice allowed the students to split up into their high schools to talk about the issues then brainstorm solutions to those problems. This is a chance for students to problem solve and focus on the actions it could take in creating a solution to controversy they face everyday.
The students finished the day with an open forum session titled "Kearney Tomorrow." This session allowed students to have their voices be heard. A panel of Mayor Stan Clouse - City of Kearney, Darren Robinson - Economic Development Council of Buffalo County, and Derek Rusher - Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce asked the students questions on what they would like to see for the future of the Kearney community. The panelist broke down the process on what it takes to bring in new businesses, what companies and business the Kearney area is focusing on bringing into the community, and the impact new businesses have on a growing community.
We are so thankful to all of our sponsors for making this day happen! Thank you to the Kearney Regional Medical Center, BD Construction, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Jordan Cochran DDS, KAAPA Ethanol Commodities LLC, Lions Club, Parker Hannifin, and the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Thank you also to all of the businesses that allowed us to use their space in Downtown Kearney: The World Theatre, City of Kearney, Nest:Space - Premier CoWorking, and Edith Joi Boutique.