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Edith Ramirez, Speaker Youth Engagement Takes Center Stage By John Horner, President /CEO Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce A healthy Chamber of Commerce is all about building, sustaining and strengthening appropriate connections throughout the many facets of a community. Much of what the broad community sees are large public events like the Friday Night Music Series and September’s Taste of Morgan Hill Festival. While these are vital and fun events which both create economic vitality and provide terrific recreational experiences for participant, they are only one small piece of what we are all about. In this issue we are focusing on the youth engagement aspect of the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce’s body of work. When viewed from a long term perspective, the educational experiences of our youth are the future’s critical foundation. When the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce Education Committee first rebooted a little over four years ago there were a few local businesses which asked “why is the Chamber working on those projects”? The answer is that connecting the busi- ness community to the local professional educators community around a common commitment to doing everything possible to support and motivate young people is essential to the local quality of life, economic vitality and future prosperity. Plus, it is a fun and deeply satisfying. There are perspectives and experiences business people can provide our students which are not readily available through traditional educational textbooks, classrooms and tests. So far we have developed and implemented three major ongoing youth projects: “Rock the Mock”(an interview skills training program for high school students), Middle School Career Days (a half-day of career options exposure for students) and the All Morgan Hill Science Fair (originally developed by the Pauchon Foundation). Implementing the larger projects has resulted in development of a number of relation- ships between our volunteers and the local schools which in turn have developed into ongoing programs like Britton Middle School’s Robotics Club under the leadership of volunteer Frank Orlando and a terrific gardening program at Sobrato High School led by Sue Villanueva. Our volunteers have also become involved in student reading programs, anti- bullying initiatives, the bond oversight board and numerous other areas of engagement. We are thrilled with the difference we have been able to make so far, and look forward to taking it up another notch by partnering with our schools to implement a full Linked Learning methodology. Please learn more about that by spending some time at ConnectEdCalifornia.org. 80 G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MARCH / APRIL 2015 Dress To Impress Career Days - Firefighting gmhtoday.com