For the first time in more than 19 months, Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) students gathered en masse for leadership development and inspiration from some of the organizations’ foremost supporters.
The organization devoted to developing leaders for the next generation of the Kansas workforce brought nearly 400 of those students together at the University of Kansas campus on Oct. 20 for its annual Leadership Development Conference (LDC). Students participated in workshops, campus tours and training activities, and listened to speakers on a host of topics.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 LDC was held virtually. JAG-K had not gathered a large group of students from among its 63 schools across the state since February of 2020.
“LDC is a highlight of every year because it brings together student leaders from across the state to an event that allows them to network and gain skills to further develop their leadership abilities,” said JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp. “It gave us all an emotional boost to be able to enjoy growing together in person.”
Gov. Laura Kelly provided a video message of encouragement to the group.
Among the featured speakers during the event were Rep. Barbara Ballard, who represents the district that contains the University of Kansas, and Kevin Like, ADM Vice President of Strategic Accounts. Both Ballard and Like serve on the JAG-K Board of Directors. Also participating in the conference were board members Dennis Mullin, chairman of Steel and Pipe Supply, and Molly Kocour Boyle, president of AT&T Kansas.
Click to view videos of the following messages:
“JAG wants to help us find ways to work for our goals,” said Concordia High School senior Ryah Klima, who, as vice president of the JAG-K student association, served as emcee of the conference. “JAG is the embodiment of student success, and that is one of the main goals of this program. I hope that you use JAG and everything you have learned in it to achieve (your) goals.”
The evidence-based JAG-K program helps students prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities. JAG-K serves approximately 4,000 students in 43 school districts across the state. JAG-K students had a graduation rate of 97.03 percent for the Class of 2020.
The annual Leadership Development Conference brings together elected officers from each JAG-K program across the state. Each JAG-K Career Association elects up to four officers to represent their school, and these are the students invited to attend the conference each fall. This year, because the event was virtual, more students were able to participate.
The group activities were held in the KU Memorial Union. After hearing a welcome from Vice Chancellor David Cook, groups of students toured the campus.
On Oct. 19, a group of 18 students and staff from Hiawatha, Concordia and Augusta visited the Dole Institute of Politics.
At LDC, Garden City High School Career Specialist Lynzee Beery was presented JAG-K’s inaugural “Ideal Team Player” award.
The Ideal Team Player award, to be awarded quarterly, was created to recognize employees who have made significant contributions to the mission, vision, culture and goals of JAG-K by exemplifying the organization’s desired attributes of “humble, hungry and smart” as detailed in Lencioni’s book.
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades seven through 12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 40 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include AT&T, Capitol Federal, John Deere, Synchrony Financial, Taco Bell and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.