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Dade City's youth council pitches in to improve community

John Agnello, far left, youth council chairman; Marlon Blankenship; Andrew Sterrett, vice chairman; Camille Hernandez, Dade City commissioner and youth council facilitator; Valeria Dragonswan; Joel Cooner; Tiffany Williamson; Donny Shive; and Lucy Avila stand next to a new pet cleanup station on Hardy Trail. 

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

John Agnello, far left, youth council chairman; Marlon Blankenship; Andrew Sterrett, vice chairman; Camille Hernandez, Dade City commissioner and youth council facilitator; Valeria Dragonswan; Joel Cooner; Tiffany Williamson; Donny Shive; and Lucy Avila stand next to a new pet cleanup station on Hardy Trail. 

DADE CITY — Andrew Sterrett has his sights set on running for president of the United States.

In the year 2048, that is.

Sterrett is only 18 now, but he already knows a thing or two about politics. He and a group of about 18 Dade City teens make up the city's youth council, and last month they adopted a plan to help keep their city tidy.

The teens added pet comfort stations along the pathways of Hardy Trail, Agnes Lamb Park and Price Park. Now there are bags to help dog walkers easily clean up pet waste. The idea came after the city hosted a Dogs Day event at a park.

"It became an eyesore for the city," said Sterrett, a high school senior who serves as the youth council's vice chairman. "We had to do something about it."

And like true politicians, the teen council held an official meeting.

The group of middle and high school teens pulled up chairs at the City Hall annex's dais, brainstormed the idea, then held a vote.

"(The youth council) identified a problem in the community. They had an idea in their heads and they saw it to completion," said Dade City Commissioner Camille Hernandez, who organizes the group.

The youth council hawked snacks at a local festival and obtained commitments from a couple of businesses to raise more than $600 to buy the eight pet stations. City workers installed them.

Sterrett says his peers are proud of the idea.

Volunteering on such outreach projects can count as community service hours toward high school graduation, Hernandez said.

In only three years since it was organized, the youth council has made a name for itself by pitching in at city events and serving hot meals to the homeless and needy twice a month.

Last year, the teens went on a trip to Tallahassee to learn more about government. Sterrett is among nine delegates who are elected by their peers to serve two-year terms.

"They had an opportunity to make a difference and that's what I'm trying to get them to see, that they can make a difference," he said.



Dade City's youth council pitches in to improve community 01/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 20, 2011 8:08pm]
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