Special to the Journal
Athens, Ga. – Nineteen rising high school sophomores and juniors from a nine-county region in Southwest Georgia recently completed Camp College, a weeklong youth leadership program designed by the University of Georgia Fanning Institute.
The Fanning Institute and UGA partnered with Andrew College in Cuthbert and South Georgia Technical College in Americus to expose students from Calhoun, Clay, Early, Quitman, Randolph, Stewart, Sumter, Terrell and Webster counties to higher education opportunities, the university, the financial aid application process and an entrepreneurship curriculum.
The camp was designed and implemented by the Fanning Institute in response to a 2010-2011 Southwest Georgia economic summit project in which citizens identified the need to improve the outlook for area youths and create long-term and sustainable economic development initiatives. The summit was made possible through federal funding secured by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr., who represents the 2nd congressional district of Georgia.
“It is important for our young people to have access to a multitude of academic opportunities,” said Rep. Bishop. “UGA’s Camp College youth leadership program supplies the tools for young men and women to grow as entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities.”
The Fanning Institute and UGA partnered with Andrew College in Cuthbert and South Georgia Technical College in Americus to show the students a range of educational options.
“Camp College is an updated version of our Latino, migrant and foster care youth leadership programs,” said David Meyers, Fanning Institute public service assistant. “Our goal of Camp College was to expose the students to a range of educational opportunities, so they could see that there are many different options. We added an entrepreneurship component to meet Southwest Georgia’s self-identified need to spur youth to someday start businesses in the region.”
The students spent two days at Andrew College and toured the campus of South Georgia Technical College before spending four days at UGA.
The students began Camp College by engaging in discussion sessions about the role of entrepreneurship in their local communities and brainstorming potential business ventures. The students then were divided into teams and guided through the stages of business and product development. UGA students with demonstrated interests in youth development led the teams. On the last day of the program, students made culminating presentations that were judged by members of the local business community.
The students also were invited to tour White Oak Pastures, a family-owned producer of grass-fed beef, lamb and free-range poultry in Bluffton; Jittery Joe’s Coffee Roasting Co. in Athens; and Four Athens, a technology incubator focused on helping companies grow through mentorship community and support. They met with business owners, business mentors and technology entrepreneurs about the challenges and rewards of starting a business.
The Fanning Institute coordinates multiple youth leadership summer camps for high-school aged Latino, migrant and foster youths designed to expose them to the college experience and create civic engagement.