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Effingham students attend annual RYLA
0722 RYLC
Students from Effingham County, above, took part in the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference at South Georgia College in Douglas. Sixty students from across the Rotarys District 6920, which encompasses 41 counties. Three featured speakers gave presentations to the assembled students over the weekend. - photo by Photo provided

Building Future Leaders was the mission of a recent youth event hosted by Georgia Rotary District 6920 at South Georgia College. Sixty students from the district attended the annual Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference (RYLA) at SGC. RYLA is a Rotary International program that started in Southeast Asia and has spread across the world.

In 1989, Georgia Rotary District 6920 adopted RYLA, which is made up Rotary Clubs in the following counties: Baldwin, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bibb, Bleckley, Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Camden, Candler, Chatham, Coffee, Dodge, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glynn, Houston, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Jones, Laurens, Liberty, Lowndes, McIntosh, Peach, Pierce, Pulaski, Richmond, Screven, Tattnall, Telfair, Tift, Toombs, Turner, Ware, Washington and Wayne.

Dr. Charles Johnson, SGC Chair of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Physical Education and associate professor of physics, is the RYLA program director and a Rotary Club member.

“RYLA helps young people connect with each other and their communities. Through RYLA training, attendees realize they can make a positive change throughout their sphere of influence. This kind of training is very empowering and enlightening, and attendees leave RYLA with a keen understanding of what it takes to make a difference,” he said.

In addition to attending a number of important classes pertaining to leadership, personal development, motivation, and communication skills, RYLA participants were treated to presentations from three featured speakers. Thursday night, Joanne Lewis, executive director of the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the weekend by delivering the keynote address at the opening banquet.

On Saturday evening, Dr. Carl McDonald, SGC’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, addressed the group of future leaders. Andrea Giggetts, owner of Giggetts and Associates, a company that specializes in providing human resources, supervisory and managerial training, a speaker’s bureau, and corporate and professional training, closed the RYLA weekend Sunday morning.

SGC participates in RYLA as a means of supporting and developing the leaders of tomorrow. South Georgia College’s partnership with Rotary to host RYLA is but one way both organizations provide an avenue for youth to learn valuable principles of leadership and community consciousness.