Junior Rural Economics and Leadership (Jr. REAL) is a new and innovative leadership development program that invests in high school juniors and seniors and presents a comprehensive one-day seminar to students from various high schools in different locations across South Dakota.
Student participants engage in hands-on exercises while learning techniques to articulate civic responsibility. The conference focuses on leadership development, credit issues and identity theft, life skills, and motivation. This program will be presented by various speakers including community members and business men and women.
The students will apply their leadership skills while taking an active role in their hometowns through community service and leadership projects as a follow-up. Over the course of the school year, approximately 20 schools and 1,000 students are affected.
As a result of Jr. REAL, the students enhance their personal and civic responsibilities as positive citizens of rural South Dakota and learn about taking ownership of responsibility for self, family, and community. This may include, but is not limited to involvement in government, church, volunteerism, and/or becoming a member of a voluntary association.
Recent academic studies show that today's young people strongly believe in the concepts of community involvement, leadership and taking action to influence social and community values. This rise in interest in civic responsibility and engagement is not only beneficial to the communities in which students live, but it also is correlated with improved practical and intellectual skills in the college years. Students who express a desire to influence society tend to score significantly higher on standard tests for critical thinking, the ability to think complexly about human behavior, and the ability to see the world from someone else's perspective.
Expected Results & Continuation of Project
Upon successful completion of Jr. REAL, high school juniors and seniors have the experience of planning and implementing a community-building project. Through this, students strengthen their competencies and skills that support civic awareness, such as leadership, motivation, and economics.