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LEAD On focuses on leadership

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus
The Churchill County Commission presented a check for $2,000 to LEAD On, a nonprofit organization that develops high-school students through leadership, education, awareness and development. From left are Commissioner Carl Erquiaga, LEAD on founder Garrett Kalt, Commissioner Pete Olsen and Commissioner Bus Scharmann.
Steve Ranson / LVN

The founder of an organization that offers advice and bridges stories of success to high-school students spoke before the Churchill County Commission at its Wednesday meeting.

Garrett Kalt, a 2014 Churchill County High School and 2018 Washington State University graduate, recently earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics. The Fallon native began Project LEAD as a nonprofit organization that develops high-school students through leadership, education, awareness and development. Because of the program’s success and how it has developed, Garrett said it was more appropriate to refer to the organization as LEAD On.

Garrett said LEAD On allows its participants who attend Churchill County High School and Oasis Academy to learn from others: adults who have succeeded in their particular fields of study and recent Fallon graduates who earned a college degree and are employed in their chosen professions.

“Students are able to connect with older demographics and learn different things from them,” he said. “Adults make a positive impact.”

Kalt said a community panel allows students to learn more from speakers and also to ask questions. He said panel members share their stories and recent graduates return as speakers. During one summit, he said a session, for example, focused on the military.

“We do not endorse students taking a certain path,” he said. “We want students to tell us what path they want to take and have them tell us. We want to give them the resources to be successful.”

It doesn’t make any difference what the discussion would include.

“Military, trade, higher education … anything you can do after high school,” he added.

Kalt said the summit is pleased to have graduates return and share their advice.

From the very first summit that occurred in August 2017 to the next session, Kalt said the number of participants has grown, and he expects upward to 60 students will attend this school year’s session on Jan. 18. He said LEAD On also relies on volunteers, its board and executive team and event volunteers. Kalt stressed the organization relies on a supportive community.

One of the slides Kalt showed commissioners sums up one of the main objectives of LEAD On: “We want all Churchill County youth to know and believe they can do and become anything they set their mind to.”

During the 2018 conference, Kalt focused on the importance for student leaders to be aware as citizens and members of the global community as well as knowing what’s occurring around them. He also gave an example how participants also give back to the community. In 2018, they wrapped over a hundred gifts for students who are placed in Nevada foster care.

Kalt said LEAD On also awards scholarships, beginning with one the first year and expanding to two. Commissioners approved community support for LEAD On at their meeting by giving the organization a check for $2,000.

According to Kalt, LEAD On has also launched a mentorship program in which recent college graduates give advice on such items as resumes, over letters and job advice. He said the graduates involved with the mentorship program have their own web pages so younger students can see how they succeeded with their own paths.

“It’s been special to see the community come together and support our youth,” Kalt said at the end of his presentation.