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Frequently Asked Questions

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(Youth Program)

What is Youth Leadership Somerset (YLS) and why should I participate?

  • YLS is a nine-month community leadership program for teens who want to be informed, engaged, connected leaders in Somerset County, NJ. 
  • This program provides you with
    • a knowledge of formal and informal decision-making channels in Somerset County
    • a broader view of critical community issues
    • an introduction to key community leaders and an opportunity to network
    • an opportunity to practice and refine critical leadership skills and competencies

Who can apply to YLS?

  • Applications are accepted from teens entering grades 9 through 12 who live in Somerset County, NJ.
  • Youth may attend public, charter, private, or home schools, as long as they live in Somerset County. 

When does YLS take place and what will I learn?

  • The program year runs from September to May and sessions (classes) take place one Saturday a month, typically between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
  • The calendar of session dates and topics will be listed with the application materials.
  • All sessions are held in Somerset County, and most sessions are in Somerville.
  • Sessions also include learning about leadership and we provide a book that is suitable for high school students.

What does the Youth Leadership Somerset program expect of participants?

  • We expect our youth fellows to be able to commit the time required to make this a successful experience for all involved.  This is a highly competitive program and many applicants are turned down due to class size limitations.
  • Parental approval is required.
  • Attendance at the first session in September is mandatory to continue in the program.  Youth program fellows must meet an attendance requirement to receive a certificate of graduation.
  • In addition to your desire to learn more about Somerset County and meet great leaders, we expect that you will want to stretch your comfort zone while also having fun and making new friends along the way.

Who sponsors Youth Leadership Somerset and is there a fee to participate?

  • Youth Leadership Somerset was created by the adults who participated in Leadership Somerset in 2000.  Since then, the program has been run by county staff and volunteers.
  •  The program is generously supported by the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and is currently offered at no charge to participants.
  • Some sessions include lunch, while others require our youth fellows to bring their own lunch.

Who facilitates the sessions?

  • YLS sessions are facilitated by a group of adult volunteers, some of whom are Somerset County employees and some whom are graduates of the Leadership Somerset (adult) program.
  • In accordance with Somerset County's policy, all persons who facilitate the YLS sessions have passed a criminal background check.  There are always at least 2 adult facilitators at each session; typically there are three or four.

Can I see the program in action before I apply?

  • Unfortunately, no.  However, it's highly likely that there are YLS alumni in your school - ask your guidance counselor for additional information.