May 2024 Guest Editor, Vicki Bradley (LT 39)

It’s been more than 20 years since I was a junior in high school. I know, I cannot believe it either. When I look back on those days, there’s not much I remember other than going to class and working a part-time job. The best job, by the way, at an athletic shoe store in the mall. What I don’t remember is really having a great sense of what my purpose in life was or could be. Fortunately, for Youth Leadership Tallahassee Class 20 and the many classes before, this program has opened their eyes to endless possibilities.

As I write this, I cannot help but think of how GREAT it is that LT Class 20 was able to make this program a reality AND still support it 20 years later. The biggest thanks to that class for pouring into the program even more this anniversary year!

Before becoming Curriculum Chair of this AWESOME class, I fell in love with YLT. In 2022, I was partnered up with John Stafford (LT 38) and Rebekka Wade (LT 39)—the dream team—to interview students for Class 19. From that very first interview with Abby (who is now the Chamber/YLT extern) I knew this program was one I wanted to be part of. From being able to go on the opening retreat that year and being able to pop into program days during the year, I was hooked. Adding to the fact that this was the 20th year of the program, I knew I wanted to be part of such a milestone year.

The beauty of being Curriculum Chair of YLT after going through LT is being able to do the program twice. Just through a different lens. You are so excited for your students to get to experience those eye-opening moments during a program day. Human Services Day is always one that brings a greater sense of the needs of our community. It’s also really cool to watch as friendships are developed – because you know they will be for a lifetime. At least you hope they will. Then there’s the personal growth you watch happen, as the quiet, mild student becomes the talkative, outgoing one in the group.

As you watch your students grow, so do you. You gain a greater appreciation and understanding of just how talented and brilliant students are in our community. You learn words that you will likely never use because you’ll never be that cool again. And let’s not forget being up to date on the latest TikTok dances, LOL!

You also gain inspiration as you talk with your students about their futures. During the closing retreat I listened as two students talked to me about applying for college. The reasoning behind their school choices and what they hope to get from the experience was so impressive. Man, how I wish I was that put together and focused when I was their age.

As I look back at my year as Curriculum Chair, I wish I had more time with these incredible teenagers. But I’m so grateful for the time I did get to spend with them. I also want for more of you to get to experience the AMAZING things that happen in this program.

So, here’s my call to action: give YLT a try. These students are doing great things. They are making a world of difference in our community. This program could really use your support, from agreeing to be part of program days to donations to help keep us going for another 20 years.

THANK YOU to all the leaders who have stepped up to support over the years and especially this year. Including my Ace, Jason Hollister (LT 39), who I know will be the most AMAZING next chair.

I close this with the biggest THANKS and full heart to Lili Childree. The way she loves on her students is beautiful. She also taught me a thing or two this year about patience and grace – and for that I’m so thankful!