Friendship formed through leadership

It’s time for Chairwoman Marie Keefe of Fostoria and Treasurer Jenna Nelson of East Grand Forks, Minn., to say good-bye today to their years on the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever National Youth Leadership Council.

Nineteen young people and their families have been in Seneca County since Thursday staying at Camp Glen for the council’s annual summer meeting.

As leader, Keefe planned the group’s summer meeting in the county she has represented for five years.

“It’s a bonding experience for everyone and we also are doing the leadership trainings as well,” Keefe said last week while she was planning the event.

“It’s been really hectic,” she said. “I’ve tried to pull from all of Ohio’s best assets.

During their days here, the group went perch fishing on a charter boat on Lake Erie Saturday.

Friday, Keefe was planning canoeing on the Sandusky River, followed by a trip to the Seneca County Fair to watch the rodeo.

The group also took part in team-building activities at Camp Glen, along with training in public speaking and conflict resolution.

During today’s meeting, Keefe was planning a fish fry for lunch.

But she and Nelson oversee the choosing of a new chairman and chairwoman first. And Keefe hands off her gavel to the new leader.

“Each member gives a 5-10-minute presentation on what their project has been over the past year,” Keefe said.

The new leadership then will be involved in choosing two new youth to become members.

Nelson, 18, has been involved for four years.

“I have a passion for the outdoors and I love kids,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to share experience in getting them outdoors and thought what a perfect opportunity this would be.”

She has hosted youth days at the farm where she lives in Minnesota.

“We shoot guns,” she said. “We’re outside the whole time. Last year, we made and put wood duck boxes up.”

And she found a duck in one of the boxes this spring.

Nelson said she wouldn’t be the same person today if she hadn’t been involved with the group.

“My leadership skills have improved and I’ve increased my public speaking ability,” she said. “My confidence has skyrocketed and I’m just a better person because of it.”

She has been treasurer for two years, and has gained many resources and connections she would not otherwise have met.

Nelson plans to attend college at Minnesota State University at Morehead.

“It’s a really strong group of kids who have worked really hard to where they’re at,” she said. “It’s like a family outside of a family. It’s one of the greatest things ever.”