Saline Invests in Its Future Leaders


Members of the 2023-2024 Saline Youth Council are sworn in. Photo courtesy City of Saline.

The City of Saline has given us a glimpse into tomorrow’s leadership today by naming the members of its Saline Youth Council (SYC) for the 2023-2024 school year. This year’s members are:

Vaish Attili, Junior

Gabriella Burtell, Junior

Dylan Erickson, Sophomore

Nancy Gage, Senior

Donovon Gillow, Senior

Alice Jiang, Sophomore

Neva Rognes, Senior

Selah Salanta, Junior

Saydee Walton, Junior

Lorellei Zegrean, Junior

According to the city’s website, the Saline Youth Council (SYC) is a formal city commission of thirteen high school students. Established in 2002, SYC serves as a live connection between the city’s youth and the Saline City Council.

Saline Parks and Recreation Director and SYC staff liaison Sunshine Lambert said, “The council was formed to connect the government in the City of Saline with the younger voices. The council advocates for the youth population and helps to shape the community through their input and feedback…this is a best practice for local governments, to have a council representing youth.”

According to the National League of Cities, an organization that supports municipal leaders from cities, towns, and villages across the United States, “By establishing a youth council, the city can make a longer-term commitment to a youth voice in local government. Municipal and youth leaders should work together to select strategies that respond directly to their goals, priorities, and needs.”

When asked about the benefits to students who participate, Ms. Lambert said that the role offers the kids many opportunities to develop personally and professionally. “The council certainly offers students a wonderful opportunity to develop their leadership skills. They learn firsthand about government processes, get involved within the community through organized events and volunteerism, and have many opportunities to develop strong public speaking skills. The first meeting of the year provides new members with an orientation of the council through the review of the bylaws and expectations. City staff share training and leadership opportunities throughout the year with members of the council.”

This proactive approach to connecting the city’s youth to its local leadership reflects a growing trend of encouraging more youth participation in civic matters worldwide. According to the United Nations, “Through active participation, young people are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as in that of their communities, helping them to learn vital life skills, develop knowledge on human rights and citizenship and to promote positive civic action.”

Though this year’s commission has already been named, there are still three vacant spots and the city continues to accept applications for those vacancies. Ms. Lambert said, “I would encourage students who are interested in learning more about civic processes, want to represent their age group, and have the desire to make the community a better place for all to apply to Saline Youth Council.”

Interested students can find more information and the application on the City of Saline’s website.

SYC Community Service Project: Fall leaf pickup. Photo courtesy City of Saline.
2022-2023 Saline Youth Council. Photo courtesy City of Saline.
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