The Batesville Mayor’s Youth Council gives students “the opportunity to learn more about how the city operates overall and gives them an outlet to provide community service through a wide variety of activities each calendar year,” reports adviser Kim Linkel.
Adviser Teri Fledderman says husband Mayor Rick Fledderman “believes strongly in giving youth a voice in their community, and he was the push behind getting the organization started” over nine years ago.
MYC members “must be students who attend any public or private school in the Batesville area, grades 7-12,” she says. The council currently has 40 members. “Originally, there was a limit of 25 members. As the opportunities and interest evolved, we realized having a cap was not in the best interest of the organization. We look for a balanced number in each grade, as well as representation from all schools.
“As a general rule, we only accept new members one time a year, and only from the seventh grade. This spring, we will provide information to St. Louis and Batesville Middle School sixth-graders about MYC and invite them to attend an informational meeting and see what it is all about. Then they have the option to complete the application process. We have been thrilled with the growth and perception about ... (the group). Most years, we cannot accept all applicants.”
The officers include co-Presidents Leo Giesey and Logan Schwering, Vice President Madison McCreary, Secretary Audrey Wilson, Treasurer Trent Barnett and at-large members Allyson Ritter and Lexi Eisert.
Council meetings are held once a month in the Memorial Building, with various committees meeting more often.
The teens have many events planned. Eisert, a Batesville High School junior, notes, “We are currently trying to meet with other youth councils in Indiana.”
BHS senior Ritter reports, “Our Green Committee is planning on transforming into a Community Events Committee to better serve Batesville. Additionally, we have some members planning to work in conjunction with Safe Passage in 2014.”
BHS senior Barnett adds, “Our group plans on focusing on drug and alcohol related presentations for the youth and younger grades at school. We are also starting a committee to help prevent bullying and violence.”
Members have held other activities in the past. “‘Batesville’s Got Talent’ is our biggest one,” BHS junior McCreary reveals. It will be held again in 2015.
Fledderman points out, “With this variety show, MYC raises approximately $5,000. Projects that have been supported range from the stone wall at Liberty Park, furniture for the pool, flag pole and landscaping at The Plex and, most recently, landscaping newly-created green areas downtown.”
Giesey, a BHS senior, says, “We put on Trail Trek which raises money for the Liberty Trail ... (and) help with Light up Batesville, Ladies Night Out and many other community events.
“I enjoy being a member of this group because it allows me to feel like an active member of my community.”
Ritter agrees, “I wanted to be involved so that I would be given a chance to give back to the community, which has done so much for me.”
McCreary reports, “I enjoy planning the events and helping with the community functions.”
Eisert says, “The group does good deeds for the community while having fun.”
BHS junior Wilson announces, “My grandmother, Dottie Voegele, was always very involved in volunteering in the community, and after she passed away, I wanted to carry on her work. I figured helping the community through MYC was the perfect opportunity .... I love leading and making a difference in the community, no matter how small. Also, the group is very tight-knit. We act like a family, and that is essential to cooperating and getting stuff done.”
Barnett emphasizes, “I enjoy ... working alongside the city council and mayor to help better this great town. It’s a great pleasure to work alongside bright leaders and peers here.”
Linkel stresses, “I think it is exciting to see the students grow from year to year. I was involved when our current leaders were just joining and becoming involved, and it has been neat to see them grow and become strong leaders.”
Fledderman believes having this council is a “win-win. Those actively involved in MYC are given multiple opportunities to build their individual leadership skills, while accomplishing goals to ‘Build a Better Batesville,’ which is the motto behind everything we do .... I love watching young people take charge and make things happen. The kids who decide to put their time into MYC put their hearts into it as well. They care about today and tomorrow. We share a bond of loving Batesville and a desire to contribute to its success. They’re just great people!
“MYC appreciates the support we have received from numerous groups and individuals over the years .... For the most part, our focus comes from within the group. Members bring causes and needs to the group for consideration, as well as other organizations who contact us for support or assistance. We strive to improve on what we do, and continually look for additional opportunities to ‘Build a Better Batesville.’”
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.