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Burney, Hill Attend Rotary Youth Conference

Dalton Burney and Ashlyn Hill attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference last month.

The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference (RYLA) is sponsored each year by Rotary District 6800 for high school juniors. This district includes all of the Rotary clubs across north Mississippi, north of MS Hwy 82, and all of those clubs in Shelby County, Tennessee. Water Valley’s Rotary Club is included in this district.

Delegates attending RYLA this year on February 24-26, 2023, were Ashlyn Hill from Water Valley and Dalton Burney from Coffeeville. Ashlyn is the daughter of Tyler and Jency Hill, and Dalton is the son of Daryl and Missy Burney. The pair of delegates spoke to the local Rotary Club on Tuesday, February 28 to report on their experiences and activities at the RYLA Conference.

RYLA was initiated in 1982 and is a self-supported conference, totally funded by approximately 40 District 6800 clubs, with no cost to the delegates. Rotarian Tommy White hosted an Orientation Meeting for the delegates and their parents prior to the conference, and Rotarians Toni Hill and Tyler Hill provided transportation to and from the conference site, Whispering Woods Hotel & Conference Center in Olive Branch. Approximately 60 delegates attended this year, the first in-house conference following two that were presented virtually, due to the Covid pandemic.

This year’s two keynote speakers were Dave Bratcher, Senior Vice President of the YMCA and Joann Massey, Executive Director of the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE). The University of Memphis, Emerging Leaders Program, spearheaded the sessions on Friday; and the University of Tennessee at Martin taught life skills all day on Saturday. Cary Vaughn, a past District Governor of Rotary District 6800, served as the Conference Chair and coordinated the weekend, to ensure continuity from the last two years.

RYLA offers young men and women who have demonstrated leadership potential in their academic and extracurricular activities the opportunity to further develop those qualities in their personal, public, and future professional lives. An atmosphere is provided where people, concepts, and activities come together to stimulate interests in self, society, and the future. This is accomplished through group discussion, exposure to successful business and professional men and women and their views, fun and motivational seminars, and personal involvement in various activities such as skit preparation and presentation.

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