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, 2018, centered on the themes of informed consent, suicide prevention strategies and considering the consequences of one’s choices related to the use of alcohol and drugs. Twelfth graders from Alma, Gilmanton, Mondovi and Cochrane-Fountain City schools 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 address focused on preparing youth for life after high school, or “adulting”. McGowan has been an integral part of Buffalo County Partnership Council Senior Day for nearly 20 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 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 Deputy Mike Osmond 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 related to the illegal use of meth, a growing concern in the county. Osmond shared real life photos from Buffalo County and the surrounding local region.
Graduating seniors also learned from Monica Lobenstein, Jackson County UW-Extension County Youth and Families Extension Educator, and Lisa Listle of the Together for Jackson County Kids. Their presentation centered on educating students on the QPR approach. Question, Persuade, Refer is a suicide prevention approach aimed at equipping individuals with the tools to ask the question and help others get resources. Mental health education for youth and families is one of the goals of the Buffalo County Partnership Council.
Shane Urness is also an integral part of Buffalo County Partnership Council’s Senior Day. For nearly ten 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. 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.