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Liberty youth at Georgia summit
Liberty County residents Houston McNiell, Donnie Pullium, Addison James, Aaron James and Terri Thompson recently attended the 2010 Georgia Youth Summit.
The fifth Biennial Georgia Youth Summit was held at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton on Sept. 11-13. The three-day leadership conference was attended by 716 youth and adults from 133 counties. The summit is designed to increase awareness of state and local issues, enhance youth-adult partnerships on the local level and encourage youth to become active for the betterment of their communities.  
The summit focuses on issues related to economic development, education, health and safety. The summit provides a forum through which youth identify the issues that are relevant to them and their communities. These reports are shared with the governor, the Georgia General Assembly and other leaders around the state.
The summit is funded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Rural Development Council through the Leadership Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the goal of preparing the next generation of Georgia’s leaders. The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Cooperative Extension, Georgia 4-H coordinates the summit with assistance from the Georgia EMCs and Fort Valley State University.
The summit is open to children and adults from any youth development organization, and scholarships for four youth and one adult were provided to teams from every county in the state. Liberty County’s participants were Aaron James, Donnie Pullium, Houston McNeill, Addison James and Terri Thompson (adult sponsor).
While at the summit, participants discussed community challenges and assets and developed an action plan to address a local issue. One of the summit’s goals was to connect county teams with resources and potential collaborators. The gathering’s theme was “Take up the Torch,” and participants were inspired by  speaker Crystal Hardy, who was selected to carry the torch in the 2008 Olympics thanks to her commitment to projects that address needs in her community.
Mike Worley, manager for non-metro community development at Georgia Power, spoke about economic development. Keith Carter, principal of Colham Ferry Elementary School, spoke about Education. Dr. Rodney Lyn, professor at Georgia State University and director of policy leadership for Active Youth, spoke about health. UGA Chief of Police Jimmy Williamson spoke about safety. The speakers also fielded questions from attendees.
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