Allie Shimkus named Minnesota State Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Club of America


Allie Shimkus, a junior at Bemidji High school and Club member of the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area, has been named the Minnesota Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Club of America, making her the first Bemidji youth to receive the honor.

Shimkus competed for the state title on March 27 at the Mall of America and will vie for the Midwest Region Youth of the Year title this summer in Chicago. As the Minnesota Youth of the Year, Shimkus will serve as an ambassador for 45,000 Minnesota Club youth and will receive a $15,000 scholarship, which includes a $10,000 Home Team Scholarship by Fox Sports North and a $5,000 scholarship from Boys & Girls Club of America through a partnership with Disney and Toyota.

“We are so proud of Allie for sharing her inspiring story about how the Club has impacted her life and for representing our Club as the Minnesota Youth of the Year,” said Andrea Ohnstad, executive director. “This is a historic honor for our Bemidji Club and a testament to our staff, volunteers and donors who provide opportunities for deserving youth like Allie to grow into caring and responsible citizens.”

On March 28, Shimkus spent the day in St. Paul, where she was introduced on the House floor and met with individual legislators.

Now in its 71st year, the Youth of the Year program honors exemplary young people who demonstrate leadership, service, academic excellence and a commitment to live a healthy lifestyle.

Shimkus has been a Club member for nine years, a Club volunteer and a junior staff member for three years. She has volunteered hundreds of hours at the Club, assisting with programs for younger children. She was a featured speaker at the Club’s gala in February.

A junior at Bemidji High School, Shimkus is a three-year participant in the fall musical, a member of the mock trial team, a Link Leader and a member of the National Honor Society.

She competed for the state Youth of the Year title based on a series of three essays, three letters of recommendation, an interview with a panel of judges and speech about her Club experience. The Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area has participated in the state competition since 2010. Shimkus is the first in the Club’s history to win state honors and advance to the regional.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji area offers its Youth of the Year program under the leadership of Nate Skar, assistant director of good character and citizenship, and Shelby Weckwerth, unit director.

This summer, Shimkus will join other state winners to vie for the Midwest regional and the opportunity to earn an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. Six youth, including five regional winners and a military youth winner, will advance to Washington D.C. in September 2018 to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Club of America’s National Youth of the Year.

The Home Team Scholarship is made possible by Fox Sports North with contributions from five of the state’s professional sports teams: the Minnesota Links, Timberwolves, Twins, Vikings and Wild. Fox Sports North has awarded $250,000 to Minnesota youth in the last 10 years through its Home Team Scholarship.

Youth of the Year

girlstudying playing guitar

Every year, we recognize one outstanding teen Club member, age 14-18, as our Youth of the Year. Recipients are selected based on six criteria:

  • service to the Club;
  • commitment to community and family;
  • academic success;
  • strong moral character;
  • life goals;
  • public speaking

Youth of the Year, established in 1947, is the Boys & Girls Club of America’s premier recognition program for Club members. Striving to achieve the award helps youth build character, community engagement and leadership. Each month, we recognize one Youth of the Month and annually select our Club’s Youth of the Year, who then competes at the state level.

Our local winner receives a $1,000 scholarship and then competes in St. Paul with other candidates throughout the state. The competition includes a three-minute presentation followed by one-on-one interviews with local and state judges. The state winner receives a $5,000-$15,000 scholarship and the opportunity to compete for the Midwest Region Youth of the Year. Five winners each receive a $10,000 scholarship and advance to the national level in Washington, D.C.

The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 in scholarships and is installed by the President of the United States.

Past winners:

2018 — Allie Shimkus

2017 – Rhea Holleman
2016 – Nathaniel Esley McDonald
2015 – Felicity Boney
2014 – Michael Horton
2013 – Darrin Hill
2012 – Aaron Hulsebus
2011 – Summer Johnson
2010 – Ivan Smith