Take the Leap: Apply for Brown County Teen Leadership Program

Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Over the summer, I applied for the Brown County Teen Leadership Program. It’s a program aimed at inspiring teenagers to get involved in leadership and in the Greater Green Bay area community.

The application process consisted of getting teacher recommendations and writing two essays. The top applicants, approximately 50 students from all the area high schools, were then brought in for interviews.

From there, 36 students were selected to be a part of the program based on their interviews and applications. Four NDA sophomores were chosen, myself included.

In September, we had our first meeting and induction ceremony, where we got a feel for the program and its expectations and heard from past members. It was also an opportunity to get to know the other members of the group.

Being the only girl from Notre Dame in the program, I was a little nervous going into it. However, everyone in the program was friendly and conversation was easy.

The following month, we had a group bonding session, where we spent the day at the DC Adventure Center in Ephraim. The first activity we did was trying to jump rope consecutively, without taking any breaks in between us. It took a while, but we figured it out after a few trial runs. Eventually, we all jumped at one time, and it was the first time at the Center a group had done it.

After that, we did partner ladder climbing, blind follow-the-leader, and various other trust-building activities. That day really helped develop a sense of unity within the group.

Our next session day, we met at Heritage Hill. While there, we talked about things we could change in our community. We also met with our groups for our community projects.

Our community project is something that we need to complete by the time we graduate the program in May, a project that benefits the Greater Green Bay Area in some way. We have to outline a clear idea, set goals, and find businesses to back us and donate to our cause.

In my group, we decided to build a community garden in De Pere. A local church was willing to donate land in the back of its property, and it is our plan to grow food to donate to needy families in our area.

Last week, we had our fourth session day, which was focused on local government. We met with Mayor Jim Schmitt, State Senator Dave Hansen, and Congressman Reid Ribble’s Chief of Staff Frederick Sense for a question-and-answer panel about modelling a set of values within politics. We then, under the supervision and guidance of the politicians, held a mock debate about the issue of raising the minimum wage.

After meeting with the politicians, we headed to the Brown County Courthouse, where we met with Judge Walsh. He told us about usual court proceedings, how he became a judge, and informed us more generally about the district court system.

We then had a tour of the courthouse and walked to the Green Bay Police Department, where we got a tour and met with a Protective Services Panel for another question-and-answer session.

Government Day really allowed me to get a feel for what it’s like to be involved in local leadership. In my opinion, that was the most fulfilling session day we’ve had so far. It really brought back an idea that had been forgotten until recently: going into politics.

We also heard from an intern at Reid Ribble’s Green Bay office, who is a graduate of the BCTL program. His presentation on how youth should get involved in government really inspired me.

Overall, thus far, the program has succeeded in pushing me to get involved in the community. I feel a newfound responsibility to give back, to let my voice be heard in student and local government. BCTL has made me feel like I am not powerless, like I can bring about change in my community.

I would definitely recommend the BCTL program to all the freshmen this year. So far, it has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I’m grateful that I took the leap and applied.