Originally created 09/09/01

Rural summit offers youths leadership training



State leaders say they hope the solution to spurring economic development in rural Georgia lies in the minds of nearly 1,000 Georgia youths.

The three-day Georgia Youth Summit 2001 will focus on the problems of rural Georgia. It begins today at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center near Eatonton, Ga., and includes delegates from each of Georgia's 159 counties.

"It is a crisis in rural Georgia: everyone is leaving rural Georgia and moving to Atlanta," said Shirley Williamson, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent of 4-H and youth development.

"What they are hoping is by targeting youth and informing them of the opportunities of starting businesses in Georgia in rural counties, hopefully they can start to get the ball rolling to start more economic development in rural counties."

The summit is an initiative of the Georgia Rural Development Council and has funding support from the General Assembly. Locally, Richmond County is sending four pupils; Columbia County is sending eight.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, chairman of the Georgia Rural Development Council, will address the delegates.

Delegates were selected because of their leadership abilities and at the recommendation of school officials.

Delegates from Columbia County include Laurel O'Neal, Sara Beth Mullis, Danielle Simmons, Haley Neal, Selina Maldonado, Brooke Cadle, Mandi Campbell and Lauren Peters. Delegates from Richmond County include Raymond Chow, Johnny Martin, Kentae Green and Ashley McMullen.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or melhall@augustachronicle.com.