Buffalo County Senior Day, sponsored by the Buffalo County Partnership Council, is an opportunity for graduating students across Buffalo County to think critically about potential risk behaviors from local speakers. The full day event which was hosted at Cochrane-Fountain City High School on April 27, 2017, centered on the themes of informed consent, gender-based based violence, suicide prevention strategies and considering the consequences of one’s choices related to the use of alcohol and drugs. 12th graders from Alma, Gilmanton, Mondovi and Cochrane-Fountain City all participated.
This year’s Senior Day speakers included renowned family and youth advocate, Mike McGowan, who has presented to over two million students in his years as a professional therapist and speaker. McGowan’s keynote addresses focused on preparing youth for life after high school. McGowan has been an integral part of Buffalo County Partnership Council Senior Day for over fifteen years, yet he shared important new messages about preparing for making connections with others at college or in the workforce and considering impacts of social media content in obtaining future jobs. He encouraged seniors with personal stories from his own family and children while infusing humor and messages of hope.
Two male students from Winona State University presented timely videos and research-based information related to gender-based sexual violence. The college students shared cues that are utilized to ensure friends’ safety in compromising circumstances and encouraged students not to be bystanders to sexual violence or bullying. Informed consent was discussed, including outlining what it is and what it is not. Reminding students that gender-based violence is always the responsibility of the perpetrator and not the victim.
Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Lee Engfer spoke to graduating students about many of the results of poor choices he has observed as a law enforcement officer. He shared research and professional experiences about informed consent, alcohol and drugs, especially those that seniors will likely face as they transition from high school to college or the workforce. Investigator Engfer shared real life photos and videos from car crashes from Buffalo County and the surrounding local region. He told twelfth grade students that law enforcement officers are not naïve enough to think that students will not go to parties as young adults in college, but if they choose to drink alcohol at those parties to be sure to make educated choices to protect themselves and their friends from sexual assault and impaired driving.
Shane Urness is also an integral part of Buffalo County Partnership Council’s Senior Day. For seven years, Urness has shared about the total impact that resulted from poor choices he made in rural Gilmanton in 2004. Urness spoke genuinely and candidly to high school seniors about the real life consequences associated with drinking and driving. Urness told students about the physical, emotional and financial pain he endures as a result of his decision to get behind the wheel after a night of heavy drinking. However, Urness was clear that he is not sorry for himself and accepts the consequences of his actions. Urness urged students to think about the consequences of their risky behavior. Urness also told of the consequences he is still living with today. He shared that he is already dreading the day that he will have to tell his own daughter, now two and half years old, that he is responsible for injuring three people and ending the lives of three others. Urness’ story is a powerful one that silences the auditorium and encourages students to truly consider the multitude of consequences that could follow a young adult for their entire life if they choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Buffalo County Senior Day was made possible in part by a donation from the Tony Myren family. Stay connected with the Buffalo County Partnership Council for the latest on youth development research, effective prevention strategies and updates from our campaigns and events! For more information and photos from Senior Day please visit https://buffalo.uwex.edu/bcpc or like us on Facebook a www.facebook.com/buffalocountypartnershipcouncil.