Developing Future Leaders

The Youth Council started in 2001 with the notion that young people care about others and their community and they would like to have a voice in the issues, challenges and opportunities they face both now and in the future.  

The Council is made up of three WHS juniors and three WHS seniors. Members apply for a 2-year position on the Council. Youth Council members learn about nonprofit organizations in our community, learn leadership skills, become involved in philanthropy and make a difference.

Since starting in 2001 more than 60 students have been involved. Members currently are:
Emma Koch and Macy Vogt
Emma Brist, Grace Martenson and Samantha Keup

SWOT Analysis

The Youth Council members held their first meeting this fall via Zoom and conducted their annual SWOT Analysis.


  • Extracurricular activities: Sports,Clubs
  • Many individuals/groups/organizations willing to help youth
  • Growing community allows for more opportunities
  • Employment opportunities for youth


  • On-line learning, construction at the High School, lack of activities due to COVID make it hard for youth to establish a routine
  • Availability and amount of time spent on technology instead of being more physically active
  • Hard to let younger people know what’s going on so that they can be involved; for those not involved there is a lack of inexpensive activities


  • Good school system
  • Really good sports programs both Club and school.  Youth may start playing young and continue through High School
  • Watertown has great parks and all youth have access in their neighborhoods


  • COVID affects everything.  Easier for High School students to learn on-line than for grade school students
  • Use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and vaping
  • Youth being harassed by inappropriate behavior

The students and staff will use this information when inviting guest speakers to meetings, when they are reviewing grant applications and awarding grants.  

Helping the Youth Serving Organizations of Watertown

Since starting, more than $150,000 has been awarded by the Youth Council to youth serving organizations in Watertown.  

2021 grants awarded in the spring were:

  • Beacon Center: $730 for play therapy toys
  • Boys & Girls Club: $1,000 to supplies for outdoor activities
  • East-Central CASA: $500 to support the purchase of laptop and software
  • Friends of SD Public Broadcasting: $2,000 for Early Learning Initiative program materials for local pre-school educators and childcare providers.
  • Glacial Lakes Multicultural Center: $400 to support cultural activities and purchase ethnic food
  • Habitat for Humanity: $1,200 for a utility trailer
  • Lake Area Child Protection Team: $2,000 to support the foster parent events and recruitment materials to increase the number of foster families
  • Lake Area Zoological Society: $1,500 for a naturalistic climbing system and safety pad
  • PACH: $1,800 for flatbed carts for the warehouse
  • Watertown Area United Way: $1,200 for more inclusive marketing including Spanish, braille, large print and audio formats for the local Imagination Library
  • Watertown DASH: $1,500 to purchase books for second-graders to take home and read with parents
  • Watertown Lacrosse Club: $1,600 to purchase 10 new helmets
  • Watertown Parks & Recreation Dept.: $800 to purchase Playstation 5 game and 4 wireless controllers to implement an Esport program