The Washington City Youth Council (WCYC) is a diverse leadership group in Washington City, Utah with up to 25 members who are in training to be the civic leaders of tomorrow.
WCYC was established in 2010 at the request of Councilman Jeff Turek, under Mayor Kenneth Neilson. I was asked to serve as their advisor eight years ago, and am still serving. Others who served during that time were Wendy Buckley and Sherri Lou Staheli, as well as Jeff Turek who was the first Councilman advisor followed by Troy Belliston and Dan Cluff. The first group started with 15 members, and now their bylaws allow up to 25 members because of the interest of so many of the youth.
They are a very active council. They played a major role in the restoration of the Historical Covington Mansion, the oldest standing building in Washington County. They asked the City if they could hold their meetings there, and in return, promised to show the citizens of Washington what a gem they have. They first opened the doors to the mansion by giving live tours dressed as the children of the Covington family. The mansion is open every Tuesday from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, run by two community volunteers, Karen Hannig, and her cousin, Irene Slack. Irene’s sister, Ferrel Prisbrey, was a long-time volunteer until she passed away last year. The youth decorate the mansion for every holiday season. They hold an annual Trick or Treat celebration each Halloween where they come dressed as the zombie Covington children. Over 500 children visit this event each year.
The Council builds magical memories for the children of the community by hosting Santa Clause at the Covington Mansion during Christmas in Dixie. Families arrive in four wagons after the tree lighting while council members lead them in singing carols as they continue on to the Covington Mansion. They are greeted by elves and Santa, and are then returned to the park by wagon. Up to 2,500 visitors attend each year.
The council chairs the Veterans Day parade, and represents the city of Washington in many events. The Youth Council members volunteer and serve at many city functions. They host the children’s booths at Washington Cotton Days, help the Lions Club at the annual Easter Egg hunt, and run all the booths at the their Fourth of July celebration. In February, they oversee the children’s events at the annual “Dog Run 5k.” They are always there helping with the Mayor’s Iron Man breakfast. They also assist with several other events by serving food, collecting tickets, setting up, and taking down, etc.
WCYC meets twice a month, and their meetings are run by Roberts Rule of Order. They are a dynamic youth council that aligns with the City Council. They hold elections, follow bills that affect youth, attend the State Capitol during the legislative session, and speak up for youth at committee meetings. They meet their representatives, lobbyists, and bill writers, and voice their concerns with the governor.
The Youth Council members report to the City Council quarterly regarding their activities. Applications for the following year can be found online in January, and all applicants are interviewed and selected by outgoing members. The council has received many honors, such as Second Place Youth Council in the State. The Council works hard and has fun doing it. They not only learn leadership, but the history of their city and how to give back. Their meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Historical Covington Mansion. The theme this year is, “It’s Going to be a Great Ride.”