Hollis Middle School students learn civic leadership in OSU rural development course

Students from Hollis Middle School visited the state capitol on May 8 to meet with Gov. Kevin Stitt and other state leaders. (Photo by Kurtis Hair, OSU Agriculture)

Sixth- and eighth-grade students from Hollis, Oklahoma, have completed the first-ever LEADERS rural civic leadership and entrepreneurship class organized by Oklahoma State University’s Rural Renewal Initiative.

A group of 21 students began the LEADERS course in fall of 2023 to develop civic leadership skills and promote economic opportunities in their community. Students formed a youth action council and wrote a project proposal for Hollis Remote, an online hub to recruit residents to Hollis that advertises local jobs, housing, entertainment options and more. They also participated in several service projects, including repaving a small stretch of road in Hollis.

The LEADERS class finished their year of learning and service with a field trip to Oklahoma City May 7-8. The students visited city leaders and entrepreneurs in Frederick, Elgin and Chickasha before touring the state capitol and meeting with Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur, Sen. Brent Howard and Rep. Gerrid Kendrix.

Hollis Middle School principal Kimberly Copeland, Hollis city council member Adam Bromlow and OSU Ferguson College of Agriculture faculty Shane Robinson and Lauren Lewis Cline accompanied the students on the Oklahoma City tour.

Robinson said the LEADERS class originated from a research study conducted in the summer of 2022. Hollis students were given the unique opportunity to learn about their local community and its governance while becoming civically engaged in the decision-making process.

“Through the class, students learned to take a more proactive role in identifying the assets and problems present in their hometown,” he said. “By teaming students with adult mentors in Hollis, students learned to voice their opinions and enact positive change in a professional manner. We are grateful for the mentors who dedicated their time and expertise to helping these students acquire some incredible skills and experiences.”

The Hollis LEADERS Class is funded through a grant provided by the Rural Renewal Initiative. Hollis Middle School administrators will select the next LEADERS class this summer. The students will enroll in the middle school’s careers class and serve as the 2024-25 Hollis Youth Action Council.

OSU Extension uses research-based information to help all Oklahomans solve local issues and concerns, promote leadership and manage resources wisely throughout the state’s 77 counties. Most information is available at little to no cost.

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