Students gather to learn about leadership, community involvement


POSTED: 5:56 PM Nov 11 2012
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Nearly 200 middle schoolers and high schoolers from across southwest Montana took time out of their Sunday to learn how to be a better leader.
Hosted by the Office of Public Education, Montana Behavior Initiative's "Youth Days" is meant to connect kids to their schools and communities.

This year's theme is "Belonging".

Part of the program involves community service work.  Students are assigned to places like Family Promise, Highgate Senior Living Center and Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.
After their service work Monday, students will create action plans to take back to their school.  Coordinators hope they'll also leave with a personal goal.

We talked to some students about why they decided to participate in the program and why the community service aspect is important to them.

"It makes you feel really happy that you're helping your community," says middle school student Alice Heriza.

Middle school student Sage Lindsay has had a similar experience with service work.

"It's good to help people and I like meeting new people and helping them," says middle school student Sage Lindsay.

High school student Austin Finch says he's excited about getting involved with service work but he's also involved in the program for self improvement.

"I'm just trying to get to be a better leader and just be a better person overall," says high school student Austin Finch.

High school student Kate Heriza says she's attended the program before and got great information about ways what she can bring back to her school and how to make the community and the school a better place.

High school student Morgan Peterson says she attended last year and visited HAVEN.  Now, she says she wants to start a similar house for victims of domestic violence in Dylan.

"I just like learning about new ideas that other schools have done to improve their own school," says Peterson.

High school student Julianna Olliff agrees.

"It's interesting how everybody's creative mind just comes together and you learn from everybody else," says Olliff.

Olliff tells us she feels like she learns a lot about herself and other people when she does service work, also.

"It's a good way for me to give back for what I get," says Olliff.

Youth Days started in 2002.
Sunday's program in Bozeman is just one of five annual Youth Days held across the state.