Vail Daily column: Local teen is a positive peer leader | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Local teen is a positive peer leader

Mikayla Curtis
Youth Leader Spotlight

Riley Rowles

Young leaders have great foresight and are a tremendous inspiration for the next generation. They have the ability to see with a couple of year's hindsight the challenges that their young peers face and what supports they need to become the next moral leaders. This is exactly what Riley Birdsong Rowles, a senior at Eagle Valley High School, has done. Riley has incredible direction for his future and has set very high expectations and goals for himself. He has received his senator recommendation to hopefully enter the Naval Academy this fall with a longer term goal of becoming an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and eventually to become a pharmacist. Riley takes this responsibility seriously, knowing that strong moral character is a part of his future and has made it a significant part of his present.

Riley lives a life focused on honor and loyalty. He sees lying as stealing the truth from someone else. He also sees loyalty as being honorable to friends and others; an important part of the military. Riley has been honorable and loyal to the many groups he is involved with — Eagle Valley football, track and field, Link crew, Devils Against Destructive Decisions, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, DECA/Future Business Leaders of America, Youth Leaders Council, and the Victim Impact Panel. Riley puts his all into these activities and has little time left at the end of the day. He is currently trying to set two records in track and field that include the long jump and hang clean records. Furthermore, important to these programs and to Riley is service. He has helped out at Round Up River Ranch and Calvary Chapel with chores, cleaning, and events. Riley enjoys the looks on others' faces when service projects are done and how happy it makes others. Riley believes the community does so much for youth that it's essential to give back to such a giving and tight-knight community.

Riley takes his role as a positive leader for his peers and the next generation very seriously. He spends time with his younger siblings, encouraging them and teaching them valuable skills and ways to approach things. He has also took it upon himself to register for a freshman class at Eagle Valley during his final semester in order to be a positive leader and influence for 9th graders. Riley has learned from wrestling that it's important to work hard, learn how to lose, recognize failure as a building block, and how to achieve success. It is important to Riley to see these same lessons be taught from upperclassmen to freshmen in order to provide them with support and guidance that will help them become great peer leaders. Riley hopes this guidance will help build a team environment where youth are offering advice, leading by example, and being there for each other.

Inclusion and collaboration are important to Riley. He believes the "only way to make everyone happy is to hear everyone's voice." Through the Youth Leaders Council and other groups, he has learned that community members and the school district administration honestly care about what students think. There is a level of collaboration that occurs between youth and adults that encourages greater generational inclusion. Riley believes it's great to hear adult opinions on the same issues, and hopeful to learn that adult concerns match youth concerns in many cases. In his effort to encourage his peers, Riley hopes other young people will get involved with as many organizations as possible to be a part of creating change.

"The best way to get change is to be a part of organizations that are making change," he said.

Motivation to get involved should not be about improving a resume for college but about being a positive leader making positive change in the community. This is why Riley is also against destructive decisions that have such negative impacts on the lives of those who make such decisions and all of the people who surround them. Riley is a part of the Devils Against Destructive Decisions group at Eagle Valley, a group of students focused on creating opportunities for their peers to make positive decisions. They have organized the fourth annual free "Don't Get Tied Up with Drugs" Event to be held Sunday from 3-6 p.m. at the WECMRD Field House in Edwards. Become a positive role model for the community and be a part of supporting positive youth decisions at this event.

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Mikayla Curtis is the resource development coordinator at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion, and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.