Blue Ridge, Ga. – Life and career skills are something that all youth need when moving into adulthood, and thanks to a new innovative program some of the youth of Fannin County will have an opportunity to have a jump start on these skills as they work their way through high school.
Executive Director of the Development Authority, Christie Gribble, unveiled a new program aimed at garnering knowledge of real world situations and providing high school age children with an in-depth look at our local community.
“A function of economic development is workforce and community development,” Gribble spoke of the new project and the inspiration she received from attending the Leadership Fannin program, “As a local to Fannin County I learned a lot about the community.”
Leadership Fannin is an annual program hosted by the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce in which community members are nominated to participate in. Each yearly group is exposed to an indepth look at Fannin County through site visits and speakers on a variety of topics.
Gribble’s youth program dubbed the Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI), will be based on the Leadership Fannin program but geared toward a younger audience.
Students at Fannin County High School, grades 10 and 11, are eligible to apply. In its inaugural year FYI had 13 applicants.
The program itself is a partnership between the Fannin County School System, the Chamber of Commerce, the Development Authority, and a network of volunteers.
“This is a free program for students. It’s paid for by sponsorships,” Gribble said of the no cost opportunity, “We had sponsorships from TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) and Blue Ridge Mountain EMC this year.”
Students will be paired with a mentor for guidance and will get firsthand knowledge of economic development, entrepreneurship, small business, and tourism in our community.
According to Gribble one of the goals is to “help these students understand what you can do in the community if you do decide to stay and build a career here, or if you go off to college and want to come back. I want to show some success stories.”
Beyond being able to get out and meet with local workers, students will also be shown a variety of life skills needed to function as adults.
“We will show these students where you go to vote, jury duty, where you go to pay taxes, building permits,” Gribble spoke of students visiting the Fannin County Courthouse during the program. “These are things that not a lot of high school students know about.”
Participants will also get a firsthand look into state government with a trip to the Georgia State Capitol building.
Gribble noted that there will be school visits as well, and volunteers in the group will teach students about career building skills: “We will go into the school on a occasion and do some professional development such as communication skills, resume building, and interviewing skills.”
The program is set to begin Jan. 25 and run through April or May of this year. If all goes well with the inaugural “test run” of FYI, both the school and partnerships are open to expansion and possibly offering the program twice a year.
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