Students who participate in the CFO’s Youth Empowerment Project came from across the Ozarks for the annual fall conference to learn and share how they apply the four YEP tenets of service, fundraising, grantmaking, and education.
YEP is a program to encourage philanthropy among high school and middle school students; there are about 37 chapters across the Ozarks, including one that represents Springfield high schools.
The annual fall conference at Drury University includes updates from CFO staffers about topics like scholarship opportunities, a keynote speaker to motivate the students and small-group sessions for sharing ideas.
This year’s keynote speaker was Mike Kromrey, executive director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. Kromrey graduated from high school in Sullivan and wanted to turn his keen interest in the environment into a career, which led to his studies at Missouri State University. Now, he studies both water quality conditions and the human condition from the Watershed offices in downtown Springfield. The offices are across the street from the Rare Breed, a drop-in center for homeless teens. He described how he sees teens living along the nearby Jordan Creek, recounting a story of one young man who wanted to volunteer for a creek clean-up day because he considers it home.
Kromrey urged the students to take some time regularly to put away their cell phones and other devices and allow themselves some quiet time to reflect and be intentionally mindful. He prepared a series of quotes and asked students to choose their favorites and then discuss why they chose each one. The top two favorites on a show of hands were from Mother Theresa and a workplace motivational cat poster he happened to see in an office.