A local high school student has been selected for the honor of representing the Fort Drum Boys and Girls Club of America chapter as their Military Youth of the Year for 2014.
The BGCA offers programs and services to enhance the development of youths and to help enable young people to reach their full potential. The club provides a variety of educational and fun opportunities that members of the Fort Drum Youth Center may take part in.
Since 1941, BGCA has hosted an annual Youth of the Year competition. The program is a means of recognizing club members for their academic success, strong moral character, public speaking ability and their service to the club and their community.
Last year, the club added a Military Youth of the Year award category.
This new category requires recipients to meet the same standards as other Youth of the Year awardees, in addition to showing evidence of their ability to remain resilient despite the challenges of military life, Youth Program manager Steve Ferguson explained.
“Within the military environment, youths are often moving every three to four years, and it puts them at a disadvantage against traditional club members who have lived in the area their whole lives,” Ferguson said. “So, (BGCA) created a Military Youth of the Year category.”
Hura J. Minger IV, son of Staff Sgt. Hura J. Minger III, who serves with 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, is this year’s title winner. He was chosen based on the caliber of his community service work, his involvement within the BGCA, and for his personal charisma and public speaking abilities.
Minger is a senior at Indian River Central High School, where he participates in several school programs such as Jazzrock, Chorus and Bible Club, to name just a few. He is also participating in the school musical, “One on the Island,” which opens in March. Minger has been a member of the Fort Drum Youth Center’s Keystone Club since 2011.
“The thing I like most (about the club) is working with the staff,” he said. “I also enjoy the programs and activities.”
The selection process included a lengthy packet consisting of questionnaires, essays and, finally, an in-person interview with a panel of judges.
In preparation for this portion of the selection process, the Youth Center staff called upon area experts to help the students hone their skills.
“This year, we reached out and asked Toastmasters International to assist with the program,” Ferguson said. “The Toastmasters worked with them on a weekly basis for about a month. By the end of it, the kids were very well prepared.”
This public speaking training proved very useful for Minger, who found the interview portion to be very enjoyable.
“I thought that was the easiest part of the program,” he said. “The judges put me at ease, and it was just like having a conversation.”
Minger will go on to represent Fort Drum’s BGCA chapter during the state level competition in Albany this May.
Whether Minger advances to the regional level of the competition or not, child and youth program assistant Nicole Childs said the experience he gained in the process of competing will benefit him in the future.
“Military Youth of the Year is a prestigious program,” Childs said. “Even if the kids don’t win, they learn how to complete applications, how to write essays, how to interview – it’s all worthwhile experience that will be valuable to them in the future.”
Youth Center staff members are already planning for next year’s Military Youth of the Year competition.
If you know of an exceptional Fort Drum youth who is a leader in the community and would like to nominate him or her for recognition, call the Youth Center at 772-6719.