FHSU's Kansas Youth Leadership Academy begins first year

Next KYLA seminar set for Sept. 27; academy to impact students throughout Kansas

9/22/04 gmt

HAYS, KS -- "Leadership knows no age limits. There is no license to obtain it. No written test to pass. The test for a true leader is one that is presented every day, in nearly any situation."

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' quote has become the mission statement for the Fort Hays State University Center for Civic Leadership's new youth project, the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy, or KYLA for short.

The story of KYLA's development is about as big as the program itself.

Wanting to impact more than just FHSU students, the Department of Leadership Studies branched into the Center for Civic Leadership, a division that targets non-traditional college students in leadership. However, Dr. Curt Brungardt, chair of the Department of Leadership Studies, felt more was needed.

Brungardt said that the Kansas Health Foundation had been closely observing the CCL and the leadership studies programs and were aware of the national accolades and awards they have received.

A few weeks previous to meeting with the Kansas Health Foundation, Brungardt had presented a pre-proposal for a statewide leadership program to the governor at a policy forum.

" She was somewhat aware that we were moving in this direction and she knew that we needed this," he said. "We had our youth camps, but as more and more schools found out we could do this, we just didn't have the resources that we needed."

During his visit with representatives from the Kansas Health Foundation, Brungardt said he was handed a check for $50,000 to use at his discretion.

" Within seconds, I knew what I had to do. I knew that money was going to be the spark I needed to get the academy to happen," he said.

Brungardt and an intern began constructing the program over the summer, hiring Kara Moore, Anthony graduate student, as director and program specialist of KYLA, as well as an assistant director, an accountant and a trainer.

" We've been marketing heavily. We asked the governor for an endorsement, which meant that we put her name and quote on our material. In addition, the governor is looking for resources to continue the program after this year. We feel fortunate to have someone at that level to promote us," Brungardt said.

The program launched in June.

" Response has been unbelievable! Our first few events have been outstanding," Brungardt said. "We've got some really skilled and intelligent people doing this."

The KYLA program is divided into four main components: academy seminars, resident camps and conferences, specialized programs, and teacher preparation.

The academy seminars, the first step in the civic leadership process, will be presented yearly to high school and middle school students at different college-level institutions. The students will be introduced to the basic principles of civic leadership and will return to their schools with leadership plans. Though the seminars are officially scheduled to begin Sept. 27 in Hays, KYLA's staff has wasted no time in introducing the program to some schools.

" We've already served over 200 students in specialized training. In fact, we just did one yesterday," said Moore in mid-September. "A teacher contacted us and said that she liked the look of the academy. She was unsure of the training, though, and if it would appeal to students. We tailored a whole day's activities towards them."

In order to provide the academy's statewide public outreach, Moore and FHSU leadership majors travel from school to school assisting 6-12 graders with the training. After a brief interview with interested leadership students about their hobbies and interests, the group tailors a program specifically for that school, instructing the student volunteers and their sponsor -- usually a teacher -- in leadership. These instructed students then become leaders and disseminate the information to the school system to help the school develop its own leadership program.

Upcoming seminars will be Oct. 14 at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, and Nov. 11 at the Kaw Area Technical School in Topeka.

Five to eight leadership competencies are then selected yearly by KYLA for the students to study and practice. This year the focus is on integrity, team dynamics, effective communication, leadership concepts (the skills and concepts needed to make a good leader), diversity appreciation, and citizenship.

Resident camps and conferences, the second step, were implemented last summer by the CCL. Each summer, middle school and high school students are introduced to an in-depth understanding of leadership through daily activities.

The final two components will instill leadership programs into the school systems for academic use and will ensure teachers receive adequate instruction to teach the programs.

Moore said the academy program activities are consistent with the Kansas curriculum standards.

Moore said she is ecstatic to be as involved with KYLA as she is.

" I love it!" she said. "I really like being around the students and teaching and promoting leadership. I like being responsible and promoting a positive outlook to the youth of Kansas."

Brungardt said that while the academy will generate some revenue, it will not be enough to support itself. He said he is thankful for the Kansas Health Foundation's large contribution, without which, he said, the program may have taken several more years to launch, if at all.

" The next time that I meet with them, I hope to let them know that their 'seed money' has produced a long-lasting program to the rest of Kansas," he said.

" In all my time here, and out of everything I've been involved in, this has the potential to be the biggest thing here," Brungardt said. "We hope we're a model to the rest of the country."

Brungardt and Moore said they feel certain that KYLA will be a lasting program that can eventually affect every student in the state of Kansas.

" I hope that students will be able to develop the skills necessary to serve as leaders and will be able to participate in civic action for the purpose of making a difference in their schools and communities," Moore said. "I would like to see this become a model for other states to follow and have other states develop programs of their own."

When asked what the future of KYLA might be, Brungardt answered by relating it to his time with the FHSU Leadership Studies Program.

" You know, I was first asked that question a couple of years ago on a radio talk show. At the time, I said that I hoped we would have a leadership program and a minor in it. I never would have imagined that we'd have the degree program that we do with the number that we've got -- so I guess I've always underestimated in that respect. I hope that schools, school districts, teachers and students look at the academy as a place that inspires and provides leadership throughout the state. I want people to look at this as being a catalyst for the state because of the fact that it touches others and will continue to for a long period of time. I want to inspire the nation to follow us in doing the same."

For more information about the academy or becoming involved in KYLA, call (785) 628-5399, or visit www.developingleaders.org.

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Office of University Relations   |  600 Park Street   |  Hays, KS  67601-4099
(785) 628-4206   |   Fax (785) 628-4152
Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu