About 30 high school juniors each year are well-educated about their community, thanks to the Magic Valley Student Leadership Program presented by the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber is entering its third decade presenting the program in which 30 juniors attend nine day-long sessions throughout the course of the school year to learn different aspects of the community. The nine individual session focus on agriculture and industry, tourism, social services, education, health and wellness, and law and justice.
“For example, the law and justice day involves visiting the Twin Falls Police Department to gain insight on how they prevent crime, then the students might visit a courtroom to see judges and lawyers in action,” says Shawn Barigar, president and CEO of the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. “The students also learn about leadership skills at each session from various leaders in the different industry sectors.”
Reach the Broad Spectrum of Students
Besides leadership tips, the program's goal is to help young people understand how the Twin Falls area functions.
“These sessions will hopefully inspire the high schoolers to consider pursuing their higher education here locally, or if they go away to college, to potentially return to our area and then add their talents to our local workforce,” Barigar says.
Over the past 20 years, students in the program have come from Twin Falls and Canyon Ridge high schools, and the program has now expanded to include Castleford, Jerome and Kimberly high schools. The chamber works closely with school counselors to choose students who wouldn't typically engage in a program like this, and over the years more than 500 past juniors have participated in the initiative, .
"The kid who is on the student council and in the National Honor Society and on the football team is probably already familiar with leadership skills, so we want to make sure that students who might be more introverted and not in school clubs have this chance to also learn about leadership and become more engaged in this region,” Barigar says. "We want to reach the broad spectrum of students."