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Youth commission plants seeds for the future

Members of the Rosemount Youth Commission met at Ailesbury Park last Wednesday to plant three trees. The tree plantings were intended to mark the youth commissioners’ dedication to the city’s future.

Some of Rosemount’s youngest residents were busy planting seeds last week, both figuratively and literally. Seven years ago, the Rosemount City Council created a youth commission in order to provide the city’s youth a formal way to have a say in their hometown’s future.

On May 25, 17 of those young people met at Ailesbury Park to plant three trees: a red oak, a skyline honey locust, and an accolade elm, in order to show their commitment to Rosemount’s future. The tree planting fell right in line with one of the youth commission’s goals for 2016-17 — to work with the city’s parks and recreation department to plan an annual tree planting event.

Mayor Bill Droste said the idea of establishing a legacy grove in the community fits well with the commission’s purpose.

“To engage the youth in our community and try to give them a voice is an important goal of the city council’s,” Droste said. “Having a large number of youth wanting to be a part of it is encouraging. When they come back over the decades, it should be fun to see the changes as they grow.”

City council member Jeff Weisensel, who serves as the council’s liaison to the youth commission, said the legacy grove idea connects past efforts, present challenges and future opportunities for the city’s youth commissioners.

“This is a transition time thanking the seniors and reconstituting the commission with new energy,” he said. “There is an opportunity to have this grow beyond simply planting trees but to become part of a place making presence for the community, both physically and in social media, perhaps.”

The tree planting at Ailesbury Park marked the end an era for some. It was the last youth commission meeting for the seven members who will graduate from high school this month, and the first meeting for the eight newest members. Sixteen students will serve on the youth commission in the coming year.

Droste said the students bring fresh viewpoints the city might never hear if it was just a bunch of adults sitting around a table.

“They always have great energy and there is never a lack of ideas,” Droste said. “It’s good to have different perspectives.”

He said the new youth commission has established a variety of goals for the coming year, all of which reside within the broader city council’s goals to grow, live and manage Rosemount.

The youth commission wishes to increase support for youth-related facilities and amenities, including sports and recreational opportunities. The commission also hopes to increase job opportunities for youth, something that is already in progress with the upcoming openings of both Culver’s and Chipotle.

The commission would also like to increase its presence in the community by maintaining or creating new partnerships with organizations such as the Rosemount Area Arts Council and the Rosemount Family Resource Center. And they want to promote more opportunities for young people to gather for fun activities such as organized bonfires at Central Park.

So far, the commission’s future looks promising. Eight of last year’s members applied for a second term, and eight others applied to serve for their first time. Council members were impressed with the applicants who attended a meeting for interested candidates in May.

“The caliber of talent and enthusiasm of the applicants who applied for the commission is encouraging,” assistant city administrator Emmy Foster wrote in an executive summary of the council’s most recent meeting. “Staff looks forward to working with this group of young leaders.”