Washington County teens chosen to attend National Leadership Forum in Washington DC

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 5:56 PM EST
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CHERRYFIELD, Maine (WABI) - A group of teens from across Washington County are raising funds in order to attend the National Leadership Forum in Washington DC.

Eight high schoolers who served as student staff at Healthy Acadia’s 2021 DownEast Teen Leadership Camp were chosen to present at the forum which will be attended by youth from all over the US.

“The kids are from all over Washington County, so from Cherryfield to back to Calais to Robbinston to Perry. So, it’s cool. Machias. So, we have kids coming from all over this region to go and do this thing,” said Corrie Hunkler.

The National Leadership Forum is a four-day workshop that connects a nationwide network of youth leaders and will be attended for the first time by kids from Downeast Maine.

“It’s a place where people my age can come together and like learn about the world and how to be young leaders. And it takes a lot to get there, especially if you’re from Downeast Maine,” said Edgelynn Venuti, Robbinston youth leader.

The youth representing the Downeast area will highlight their activities and accomplishments of this summer through their work with the camp and Maine Youth Action Network’s “Gateway to Opportunity” program, giving teenagers from all over the country a peek into what works Downeast.

“Mostly just explaining like the work that we did to help make the camp and how important and impactful it is for the people in this community. People learned a lot, and they made a lot of good connections that they can’t really make anywhere else in this area, so it was a really good experience,” said Venuti.

There are many ways to be a leader. Oftentimes, it’s by example.

“The more kids, the more their peers doing stuff like this, the more they can see maybe a way that they can also be involved,” said Hunkler.

“I think that a lot of young people in this community, they might feel like lost sometimes. So, I think it’s really cool that we have this opportunity to go, and this trip will definitely help everyone in the community because it’ll, it’s helping me and a bunch of other young people go and then bring whatever we learned back,” said Venuti.

Though this is the first time a group of teens from Downeast will attend the forum, the timing may never have been better.

”I know a lot of times we say they’re our future, but they’re our ‘now.’ We need their voices. We need to nurture those voices. You know, we need people stepping up and doing big things in Downeast Maine. It’s a changing region, and we need people to be involved in advocating for what’s best for our area,” said Hunkler.

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