For the first time ever, the Laramie Youth Council hosted a Pitch Day on Thursday at City Hall, where members of the community could pitch ideas in need of “youth-driven” solutions.
The event was a way for the Youth Council to take to the dais to try to make a direct impact in the community by partnering with different groups or departments on a variety of issues, including endangered amphibians, recycling and vaping education.
“I think it’s a really good way to find really impactful projects in the community,” said Sam Miller, treasurer of the Youth Council. “I’ve been on the Youth Council for one year before this, and I think we’ve struggled to really find something we could do that would have a big impact on the community.”
The Youth Council heard six short pitches from community members and scored them based on efficiency, youth necessity and impact. Sarah Reese, Laramie Youth Council coordinator, said unlike entrepreneurial pitch days, this event involved more than just signing over a check.
“In this case, you’re not investing your money, you’re investing your time and your creative energy and your knowledge and your power into these projects,” Reese said during Pitch Day. “That’s a lot more that you’re investing than just handing over a check. This is really a powerful opportunity for you to make your mark in our community.”
The pitches included the Albany County Attorney’s Office wanting to coordinate public education on electronic cigarette vaping in schools and making the process to expunge juvenile records easier; the recreation center proposing to collaborate to increase high school-aged programming; the Wyoming Game and Fish Department wanting to create a public art initiative to bring awareness to Laramie’s endangered species, the Wyoming toad; the Solid Waste Division wanting to create a recycling public service announcement; and a proposal to designate a section of a city park specifically for hammocking and slacklining.
While some of the projects were a little more immediate, many involved multiple months of meetings, presentations and design time to help see the project to fruition. Reese said the Youth Council was “planting seeds” with some of these projects for future youth councils, and both Miller and Leila Johnson, who is in her first year of Youth Council, agreed the council should continue the effort in the following years.
“I feel like there’s people who have problems that only youth would understand,” Johnson said. “I think it’s great to reach out to the community and have those businesses and other organizations come to us for help. I thought it was really successful, and it was great to hear from a really big variety of causes. I think we should continue doing it in the future.”
Deciding whether an issue truly needed the youth’s perspective was one category both Miller and Johnson said they are considering heavily as they decide which pitches to choose. However, Miller said he wasn’t just looking for projects that needed a youth’s perspective, but also ones that directly benefit young people in Laramie, too.
“We also are looking for things that will help impact the youth and won’t just have a broader goal for the city, since the goal of the Youth Council is to try to service the youth of Laramie, keep them here and improve [the city] in a way that benefits us,” Miller said.
The Youth Council will announce which pitches it chooses to work with Dec. 13.