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Chamber kicks off revamped Youth Ambassador program, seeks community partners

The Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce kicked off its completely revamped leadership program for area high school students last week.
The new program, the Chamber Youth Ambassador (CYA) program, is very different than the previous Youth Leadership program, says ECCC Executive Director Joy McCray.
“We’ve got 25 students from all four county schools, Elizabethton High School, and a homeschooler,” McCray said. “We are still looking for ambassador sponsors, program sponsors, and field trip hosts for next semester, and we invite our community partners who may offer job shadowing and internships to contact us so we can link our students into their programs.”
The new semester-long program offers students the opportunity to participate in community service as well as experience a variety of job sectors throughout the region, McCray explained.
“CYA participants will be involved one school day every month, August through December or January through May, the second Tuesday of every month,” McCray said. “Each time we meet, the students will get to experience their community in a whole new way, visiting very unique areas, looking at possible careers and businesses in our region so they can see all the possibilities our area has for future careers.
“We think this will also help them make good decisions for continuing their education, whichever route they decide to take. We want them to experience all the things this community has to offer to make it a great place to live, work and visit.”
CYA exposes students to all segments of the working world in the Elizabethton and Carter County area, McCray said. She has developed a monthly schedule that takes students to locations that highlight tourism (September/February); Industry (October/March), Healthcare (November/April) and Community – Local Government (December/May).
Last week the group visited Watauga Lake, Sycamore Shoals and Wilbur Dam — attractions that bring people to the area for vacation and support the community.
“When these youth leave the area either for school, work or just vacation, we want them to know more about their area so that when someone asks where they’re from, they will have a good amount of information to share,” McCray said.
Next semester applications will open in December. Students who qualify to participate include high school juniors or seniors, with a “reasonable” GPA — 2.7 or higher. “But we aren’t sticklers as long as they have excellent conduct and a good attitude,” McCray added.
“There is also a written application as well as a video component,” she noted. “We only require that students have a letter of recommendation from any of their current class scheduled teachers to apply.”
The cost for the program is $125 and scholarships are also available. This includes all transportation from the Chamber and back, food, materials and a t-shirt.
The program concludes each semester with a service project which involves helping Main Street Elizabethton with the Christmas parade in the fall semester and partnering with Keep Carter County Beautiful in the spring. A “graduation” from the program will be held each year at the annual May Chamber breakfast.
For more information about CYA and how to apply, please contact the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce by going to elizabethtonchamber.com, click on “Resources” and the Chamber Youth Ambassador program.