About a year ago, I was in high school at Marco Island Academy listening to a presentation done by, VP of the Leadership Collier Foundation, Amanda Beights. I really wasn’t sure what the presentation was about, but I remembered my friend Dylan talking to me about participating in Youth Leadership Collier™ (YLC) in 2016, so I was intrigued. The main reason I applied was that if I was accepted, I knew it would look good on college applications. However, my desire to be a better leader is the reason I followed through with it.
My first impression of YLC was that it was going to be more educational than fun. Oh boy was I wrong! The weekend team building was the most fun I’ve had with a group of students ever. And it seemed like the fun was never going to end as the week continued. While we learned about our community, we got to do insane things like crack a whip on a real agricultural ranch and see a piece of collarbone break at Arthrex. In reality, I probably should have realized that this was going quite an amazing experience since so many people were talking about it, but I must admit that YLC was not at all what I was expecting.
I learned quite a lot from this week-long experience, not just about my community and peers, but about myself. Everything we did help me realize how important it means to be professional in every aspect of your life. Keep eye contact, speak clearly, practice your handshake. These were some of the initial lessons we were taught and now I always review them when mentally preparing for an interview. I also figured out that the job I want to go into may not be the most interesting anymore. From traveling across our county, I found a passion for managing, which is something I never thought I wanted to do.
Before YLC, I will admit that I thought Collier County was a boring place. I had grown up here my whole life and felt that I had never seen anything new and intriguing. This was my first time realizing how large and diverse if a community in which we live. From Immokalee to Hamilton Harbor, there are so many thriving industries and activities in Collier County that I never knew existed. This experience has opened my eyes to a whole “new world” of Collier County.
Today, I keep in contact with LCF alumni and with the great friends that I made through YLC. Amanda Beights and I frequently email about not only volunteer opportunities, but also about the potential of my future if I continue my career path Collier County.
I would absolutely love to work with the LCF Internship Coordinator, Davina Hartsfield, in the future and so that I can continue to become more involved in my community. I also think that this new aspect of LCF is great because it encourages young students and past participants alike to continue in the footsteps of leadership.
Natalie Hughes, Youth Leadership Collier (’17)
Natalie is a senior at Marco Island Academy and has been interested in leadership and service from a young age. She has been involved in Key Club and Student Government since her freshman year. Natalie will be attending FSU after graduation and will be studying neuropsychology. Collier County has been her home her whole life and I is very grateful to have an opportunity to learn more about it.