Herriman Youth Council delivers almost 400 pounds of food to Utah Food Bank
Feb 27, 2019 04:21PM
● By Travis Barton
The Herriman Youth Council spent a day at the legislature experiencing the ins and outs of government. (Photo courtesy Destiny Skinner/Herriman City
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
What a difference a year can make.
Last year, the Herriman City Youth Council raised 254 pounds for its food drive. This year, there was a 56 percent increase, as the council raised 396 pounds of food at its Lights on Ice event at Crane Park’s Ice Ribbon in January. Residents could pay with food instead of money to skate.
The council has done food drives in years past, organized as dances for the youth rather than a skate night. But members tried something different this time.
“We wanted to utilize our city assets as well as appeal to a larger number of families to provide a fun recreation opportunity for everybody,” said Alex Hill, the member credited with the dance to ice skating change.
On the night of the event, the council made a playlist, created decorations and even presented to the city council to waive fees for the night, allowing them to accept cans of food instead.
Two days later, the council delivered every ounce of food to the Utah Food Bank. Alex, a sophomore at Herriman High, said it was special to witness where the fruits of their labors were going.
“You could tell it was a lot,” he said.
That same day, the youth council had its day at the legislature. Members toured the capitol, attended committee meetings, listened to advocacy groups, saw historical sites, listened to Gov. Gary Herbert and ate lunch with their legislators and city leaders.
Youth council members—including Hill, Kala Hyte, Liam Hyte, Abby Edwards and Lea Seo—said the day was educational—teaching them how to affect change, making government officials feel more approachable and feel more involved in city government.
Destiny Skinner has been with Herriman City for 15 years, seven of them advising the youth council. Having the youth experience the dynamics of government makes them liaisons with the community, she said.
“These guys kind of get the concept of how local government works,” Skinner said. “A lot of people don't, including adults. For us, we’re wanting the youth to help educate their parents or their peers’ parents or family members who don't realize how government is run.”
Alex, 15, did just that. During his time on the council — terms last one year from July to June — Alex has learned the “importance of staying informed.”
Someone once told him they couldn’t believe the city was leaving Unified Police. “They’re going to go bankrupt,” Alex recalled being told before responding, “Have you looked at the finance report? You look at that, and you can see the savings, and you can see it was a good decision in the long run.”
It was also Alex’s idea to place youth council members on city boards, creating another link to government business.
“He watches every single council meeting,” said Councilwoman Sherrie Ohrn, the youth council liaison. “How many 15 year olds [do that]? It’s cool to see his desire to know what’s going on.”
Youth 14–18 who reside in Herriman may be considered to serve on the council. This year’s group has 26 members, the most it has ever had.
“We have an awesome group of youth, and it just continues to grow every year,” Skinner said shortly before a February meeting where the council made goals on what to accomplish before July. “They just do more and more.”
“They’re just amazing kids,” Ohrn said. “I think any kids who want to dedicate their time to service to a community says something about their character. They have a desire to do good and give back to the community.”
Up next for the youth council is the Utah Association of Youth Councils’ Leadership Conference at Utah State University this spring.
Ohrn said she heard grumbling from residents while running for office about the increase in the youth council’s budget by a few thousand dollars—a raise that came because of its conference participation.
“(The leadership conference) is a valuable tool for these kids because we're trying to train leaders right, that's the future,” she said. “The more they can be involved and engaged and learning service, the better off we all are.”