Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summer Intern Program

The first County wide event the Visioning Team hosted this year was our Job Fair. It was an exciting night, showcasing just how many opportunities there really are folks to live and work in Knox County. And, absolutely the most excited person there was a high school junior from Benjamin, who already knew she wanted to come back home and open her own store after college. She’d been waiting her entire life for everybody else to realize that she could! After visiting with this deceptively fragile looking ball of energy, optimism and opinions for a whole five minutes I, Remelle, found myself telling her about the Internship working with Ogallala Commons and the Knox County Visioning Committee coming up this summer. She immediately decided that was the summer job for her and convinced me almost as fast that she was THE person for the job. She was! Brittany is committed to the idea of small towns as settings for a BIG life and communicates that to everyone around her.

From her first day when she wrote the essays telling about herself and her impression of what OC and the KCVC were about, through days spent putting together, hauling around, and setting up booth displays in 107 degree heat or interviewing people in check-out lines with sticky-handed babies who couldn’t keep their hands out of that shiny blonde hair, she never lost her excitement or her commitment to the view that everyone, teens included, has a responsibility to do what they see needs doing in their hometown.

Here’s Brittany’s intro of herself and thoughts on her new job:

Brittany Coop
Knox County Visioning Team

My name is Brittany Coop. I am seventeen years old and a senior at Benjamin High School. I am active in 4-H and raise goats and sheep as a livestock project. I am captain of the UIL spelling team, play volleyball and golf, run cross country and track, and cheerlead.

As someone who is growing up in Knox County, I feel like there is a niche we, as young people, have to fill. We will travel at least 90 miles to shop, eat out, and visit the doctor. The obvious demand for these services proves that these businesses could thrive in Knox County. Every time we travel to Wichita Falls or Abilene to spend money that could be spent rejuvenating the economy here, I am reminded that we lack coffee shops, restaurants, clothing stores, tailors, etc. Who better to open these businesses than the future college graduates who sit in our high schools undecided on the future? Why not encourage us to seek out higher education and then return to our hometowns to enrich our communities?

Ask almost any high school student in Knox County if they want to come back home after graduation and not many will say yes. The reason for this is young people are under the impression that if they return after college, they must be failing at making a future for themselves. We have to show high school students that there is opportunity beyond the Metroplex. One of the most important things we can teach young people right now is that if you see something we need here, if there is a niche that needs to be filled, fill it!

Lorrie Coop, a Knox County Visioning Committee member, said the Committee would like to increase the sustainability of present businesses while bringing in new enterprises to further meet the needs of our residents. Lorrie said she felt the Visioning Team was making great strides through programs they have sponsored, including The Rural Tourism Symposium, the Job Fair, and the Youth Engagement Day. She also felt that we, as a community, need to be aware of our natural resources and what we already have to offer. The question now is, how best to promote these resources?

After college, I hope to return to Benjamin and open my own business. I chose to work with the Visioning Team this summer because I feel like rejuvenating our communities in Knox County is very important for the future of my family, my neighbors, and me.

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