News and Events

Junior Leadership DeSoto Kicks off in DeSoto County
March 12, 2020

Being a rural community, the lack of opportunity to keep youth activity involved, and away from risky behaviors, is always a top of major discussion. The common misconception that one must leave our community after graduation to seek experience is also a concern.

The idea of a program that would provide local youth with the opportunity to learn more about our community and the components that contribute to its success and operation, and encourage these young leaders to advocate for their health and future by living a positive, healthy lifestyle, has been talked about for years. We finally decided to dive in and go for it, and thus, Junior Leadership DeSoto Class I was born.

The program was offered to Juniors and Seniors at DeSoto County High School. Completing an application, writing an essay, and becoming an active member of our Students Working Against Tobacco Club (SWAT) and Drug Free Youth (Df-Y) were a few requirements of being accepted.

Junior Leadership DeSoto Class I got a behind the scenes tour of DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office, including Sheriff Potter’s Office.

The class met for their first official day in the community on November 21st.  The agenda was packed from the minute youth stepped foot onto the bus. The first stop was a private tour of DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office. Youth were able to speak one on one with Sheriff Potter, see the inside of the dispatch room, as well as many other offices, and even a portion of the jail.

In addition, the class visited DeSoto County Fire and Rescue – Station 1, DeSoto Memorial Hospital, Wound Care Center, DeSoto County Health Department, and Emergency Management Operations. Youth got to speak with several leaders in our community and learn about the components of their jobs, including education, training, leadership, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

Junior Members, Class Sponsors, and representatives from A+ Environmental Restoration pose beside the autonomous mower. Commissioner Deriso really nailed the solar field tour, as well as sharing the important qualities of a great leader.

Youth were out and about touring the community again on March 12th. This day, our Junior Leaders got a behind the scenes peek into the Arcadia Stockyard, DeSoto Solar Field, Joshua Citrus, and a local fish farm. Youth especially enjoyed learning from Commissioner Deriso with A+ Environmental Restoration. He shared an abundance of leadership qualities with our youth, encouraging them to always work hard, and inspiring them to live out their passion.

When these young leaders are not participating in class days, they are actively educating community partners on the goals and initiatives of our Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco, volunteering around the community, and combating tobacco use and social norms.

Overall, it has been as a very eye-opening, positive experience for our youth and we are ecstatic to get this program up and running. It has served as a great opportunity to engage and educate youth, as well as many adults within our community. These young advocates have been able to see the importance of living a healthy, productive lifestyle, while developing their potential and discovering all the career opportunities that lie ahead in our community.

Junior Advocates enjoyed a scrumptious lunch prepared by DeSoto Memorial Hospital and sponsored by Mosaic. During lunch, youth brainstormed ways to become active and give back to our community.

We sincerely want to thank every individual that has contributed to making this initiative a success. A big thank you to Mr. Cline and The DeSoto County School District for supporting this program and providing transportation for our youth. We’d also like to thank each and every class host mentioned above, as well as our lunch sponsors, Mosaic and Drug Free DeSoto Coalition!

We have received many words of praise about the program and really look forward to watching it grow, but more importantly, witnessing the many things these young people accomplish!

If you are interested in learning more, or joining forces to ensure the sustainability of this program, please contact Jodie DeLoach @ or Asya Shine