“The skills I learned in CYD gave me a solid foundation which I have used in all aspects of my life. The leadership and communication skills that CYD helped me develop have been a critical component to everything I have accomplished in my life so far. The benefits of CYD are immeasurable.”
– Lindsey Meshberger
Riverview High School, University of Central Florida, University of Miami School of Law (J.D.)
Attorney at Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A. (Sarasota)

“As a STAR student, my understanding of community – specifically the Sarasota community – expanded immensely. That has had immeasurable repercussions in my life, helping to foster my commitment to being an active, engaged member of my community and pursuing a life path that would make a positive impact … I think my experiences with CYD also gave me the gumption and assurance that I could pursue a less conventional career path if that’s what I found fulfilling. As a result I have found a career that makes me incredibly happy because I believe in the value of the work I’m doing.”
– Allie Dart
Pine View School (2005), American University (2010, Environmental Studies, Education)
Allie works for Wilderness Inquiry, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that brings environmental literacy and dynamic outdoor learning experiences to urban youth through their nationwide Canoemobile program.

“I recall the reactions of the all-male board when the staff liaison explained to the Advisory Board members that a 15-year-old high school sophomore would be serving and voting alongside them. I learned a great deal from the experience. I wasn’t intimidated by the more experienced members of the board. I didn’t hesitate to ask questions and I offered a youthful perspective … The skills I acquired during my time in STAR program have proved to be invaluable in my service to our community today.”
– Kelly Dowd
Lemon Bay High School, University of Miami, Coral Gables
Political Consultant, KD Logisitics, Inc. (Sarasota)
Member of Sarasota’s Human Services Advisory Council

“As a college student, CYD prepared me for the diversity I would encounter in college. It brought me together with students from different schools and areas of the county and encouraged meaningful interaction. CYD also helped me to feel more confident when entering new and unfamiliar situations … As a young professional, CYD taught me the value of interacting with professionals both my age and older. It demonstrated to me the value of networking and keeping in contact with people. It also helped me to be competitive in the work force arena.

“CYD helped me gain a passion for my community. By being encouraged to work with nonprofits and get engaged in local initiatives, it showed to me that I really did have that capability to impact my own community and lead through my actions … CYD was a fantastic program and a great part of my high school career.”
– Kristen Howell
Riverview High School (2010), UCF (2014)
Financial analyst at Lockheed Martin

“The STAR Leadership program is a program that I encourage other students and parents to get involved in! It really helps the students grow and develop leadership skills that are so important!”
– Reci Roddenberry
STAR student parent