Class 26



Youth Leadership Kearney is an organization created to identify, educate and nurture potential, emerging and existing leaders that are committed to improving the quality of life in Kearney and the surrounding communities.

In 1994, Youth Leadership Kearney was created to mirror the Leadership Kearney program that started in 1991.  Recognizing that there was a need to inspire and train the next generation of youth leaders in Kearney, a task force was created by Leadership Kearney Class #2 graduates, Tim Hughbanks, Julie Rawlings Hoppe, Jim Ganz, Jr. and Randy Tonniges.  The mission of the Youth Leadership Kearney program is to help develop the hidden potential in our high school students in regard to their leadership qualities and to instill in them the importance of community trusteeship, all in an effort to prepare them for the leadership opportunities ahead of them in their later lives.  Participants are provided with tours, roundtable discussions and speakers during their leadership sessions. 


  • Develop leadership for the future of our community.

  • Build community trustees.

  • Foster community cooperation.

  • Encourage interactive networking.

  • Promote community betterment.

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There will be one session per month.  These session days will run like a typical school day 7:45-8:00 AM through 2:30-3:00 PM.

Welcome Retreat

Youth selected for the Youth Leadership Kearney class have an opportunity to meet each other for the first time, become familiar with the program and network.


Parents/ Guardians are requested to attend a portion of this day for an informational session.


Business & Industry

Participants learn more about the major industries and primary businesses in the area as well as explore the local retailers and meet entrepreneurs.


Agriculture, Energy & Environment

The community’s energy needs and information about the agricultural industry will be presented.


Local Government

Participants meet with various city and county elected officials and learn about our governmental entities and the local facilities.



Youth learn about the different educational systems in our area from public to private, elementary to high school and post secondary opportunities.


Health & Human Services

Participants tour the healthcare facilities in Kearney and learn about various human services agencies.


Art, Culture & Recreation

Youth tour the community and surrounding area to learn about cultural opportunities and local recreational facilities and the programs offered.


State Government

Participants travel to Lincoln to observe the Nebraska Unicameral, visit with state senators and state department directors and have lunch with our Governor.


Volunteerism & Graduation

Youth will complete four hours of community service and/or a class project before the conclusion of the program. Youth will share their experiences as well as hear from volunteer organizations in the community.


Youth, Parents/Guardians and Sponsors are invited to a graduation luncheon upon completion of program requirements.



​The purpose of the YLK selection process is to choose a class of individuals to represent the Kearney area. Members of the class will have the opportunity to become educated on various issues, exchange ideas and enhance their leadership skills.

Applicants must:

  • Enrollment as a student in the Kearney School District or home schooled in the Kearney area.

  • Applications must be submitted during the spring of sophomore year for participation as juniors.

  • Students selected must commit to full participation in the program.

  • Participants must have a desire to develop and utilize leadership skills.



Participants are chosen by a selection committee made up of Leadership Kearney Board Members. Youth applicant names are not identified to the selection committee and the entire selection process is anonymous. Application questions are assigned a point value. Participant selection is based on the total points an applicant receives as well as the overall distinction of the application. Chosen candidates participate their junior year.

  • Application deadline will be May 1st of every year. 

  • The Leadership Kearney Board of Directors Selection Committee will review applications in confidence.

  • All applicants will be notified in writing no later than July 1 as to their acceptance to the program.

  • Personal information that might identify the candidates is not revealed to the committee members.

Once new members are selected and confirmed, all applicants are notified as to whether or not their application was successful. Notification letters are sent out no later than July 1st.



Program Funding Participation in Youth Leadership Kearney has no cost to the individual participants. However, youth participants will be responsible for contacting and securing sponsorships for themselves prior to the opening retreat. Sponsorships are $250 per youth participant. Selected youth are responsible for reporting their progress in the program to their sponsor throughout the year.



Attendance is required at all sessions and the opening retreat. The sessions will be held during the day until approximately 3:30 p.m. and should not interfere with after school activities, with the exception of the State Government Day. Every effort will be made to avoid conflicts with the other school functions. Your teachers and coaches are aware of this program and your absence from school during these sessions will be allowed. One excused absence from the program may be allowed under certain pre-arranged circumstances.  Participation is a privilege, so attendance is your responsibility. Participation in a Youth Leadership Kearney organized community project.






A $1,200 scholarship will be awarded to up to four Youth Leadership Kearney graduates, pursuing post-secondary educations at an accredited two-year or four-year institution. Preference will be given to applicants choosing to attend an institution in Kearney.

Students must carry a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be a graduating senior level student attending a Kearney high school and residing in Kearney proper.

Scholarship monies will be paid directly to recipient's collegiate institution first semester after verification of current enrollment. This scholarship is a one-time award.

Please fill out and print off the Application Form and submit with the required attachments. 


PO Box 692, Kearney, NE 68848



1007 2nd Ave | PO Box 607 | Kearney, NE 68848

PHONE: (308) 237-3101