YELP is an acronym which stands for "Youth Engaged in Leading Phelps." This brand new training program is giving teenagers from not only Holdrege, but from all across Phelps County the opportunity to hone their leadership skills.
Katie Ostgren is the Executive Director of the Holdrege Chamber of Commerce and the YELP Leader and she hopes this new program will create new leaders that will want to stay in Holdrege, "We have identified, like a lot of rural communities, we're in a situation where we're losing population every year."
Katie hopes to reverse that trend, "From what we've learned, the best way to do that is to engage our young people from a very early age so they are serving the community, they feel invested in the community, they have a connection with the community that they're more likely to consider returning to their home town after they get their education."
YELP is a year-long class designed specifically for high school sophomores like Abbie Nelson, "This is broadening the leadership aspect and helping out around your town and different people, you're not just focused on school, it's a bigger picture."
Avery Johnson believes YELP will help her become more well-rounded, "I thought it sounded different, something different to do and I've always wanted to have more leadership skills than I do and be able to help my community out and meet new people."
As a Holdrege High School senior, Sarah Vonosek is is acting as the YELP project manager, "I truly believe in YELP because I think young people don't get a voice, or a big enough voice in this day and age. I think that if you have a dream you need to pursue it."
Abby couldn't agree more, "People usually don't thing of teenagers as helping out so I thought it was different and a good opportunity."
Each of the 15 students will be responsible for doing individual service projects throughout the years.