Eighteen local individuals participated in the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) leadership conference Jan. 11-13, 2013 at the Pineywoods Encampment in Woodlake. This program, sponsored by area Rotary Clubs in District 5910, provides high school students with leadership enhancement opportunities as well as team building exercises.

Bridge City/Orangefield Rotary Club sponsored the following 11th grade students: Bridge City High School representatives Brooke Bertles, Luke Placette, Colton Cockrell and Taylor Brownlie; Orangefield High School students Kirby Clayton, Gage Counts, Carrie Grace Henderson and Kirsten Wolfford. Little Cypress Mauriceville students Katherine Burns and Kenedie King also attended.

Orangefield High School senior Luke Johnson returned to RYLA as an Alumni Leader as did Bridge City senior Zach Cole. Recent Orangefield High School graduate Robert Ehrlich returned as an Alumni Trainer. Local educator Ryan DuBose returned for his eighth year at RYLA and served as the Adult Leader for the Alumni Leaders and Alumni Trainers.

Bridge City/Orangefield Rotary members Eric Andrus and Bridget Luna Trawhon attended as chaperones. In addition, two men who were instrumental in the establishment of RYLA in District 5910, Ronnie Hutchison and Charles Atkinson served as Adult Leaders for the weekend’s events.

According to Kirsten Wolfford, “RYLA was a learning experience for me. I learned how to step out of my comfort zone and approach new challenges with confidence.”