‘Our goal is to help create tomorrow’s leaders: CCSO hosts Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy

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Students complete a team activity at the ropes course during last week’s Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) hosted this year’s Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy (SYLA) last week and CCSO was excited to work with a great of more than 25 students from county, city, private and home schools. Sheriff Matt Gentry believes investing in the next generation of community leaders is important and wants to do all he can to help provide experience and skills that will be invaluable to them going forward.

“Our young men and women are the leaders of tomorrow. The Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy (SYLA) provides them with an opportunity to work on the necessary skills to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life,” Gentry said. “We at the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office want them to excel in every facet of life regardless of if they choose a career in law enforcement or not. The team building and leadership aspects of SYLA, coupled with the importance of patriotism are what makes this program so special.”

The CCSO’s website reads,

“The purpose of the Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy is to provide the youth of Cullman County with an understanding of the importance of; Leadership, Patriotism, Respect, and how to make decisions based upon Sheriff Gentry’s guiding principles of Honor, Courage, and Integrity.

Students will experience team-building skills while overcoming their fears, all in the face of diversity.  Students will learn how the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office strives to provide efficient and professional law enforcement while serving the Citizens of Cullman County.  Students will also learn the importance of taking pride in their Homes, Family, and Community.”

The Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy runs for one week (Monday-Friday) each summer and is free to students and parents.

The Academy includes classroom instruction and events such as:

  • Impressive Speakers
  • K-9 Demonstration
  • SWAT Team Demonstration
  • Range Time / Firing Semi-Automatic and Fully Automatic Weapons
  • Ropes Course
  • Rock Wall Climbing (Courtesy of the Alabama National Guard)
  • Gladiator Pit (Courtesy of the Alabama National Guard)
  • Death Investigation
  • Obstacle Course Competition
  • Shoot / No Shoot Scenarios
  • Physical Training
  • Self-Defense Classes
  • Tours of the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center
  • FREE T-Shirts and lunches are provided daily
  • Special Graduation Ceremony
  • Ride Along with Patrol Deputy (upon completion of the program, each student will receive the opportunity to have one (1) Ride Along)

Students earn 40 hours of Community Service Credits through the Academy while adding value to their resume.

Student Qualifications for the Academy are:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Entering their Sophomore, Junior, or Senior year of H.S.
  • Possess a current drivers license and insurance
  • Possess dependable transportation
  • Complete an Academy application and waiver
  • Cell Phone (preferred, not required)

Students can obtain an application/waiver to the Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy through their High School Office, their School Resource Deputy, or by emailing the Academy Coordinator at rsorrow@cullmansheriff.org.

“Our goal is to help create tomorrow’s leaders,” Gentry said. “In doing so, we hope to ensure that these leaders keep Cullman County the special place that it is.”

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