Rhea Holleman named Bemidji Youth of the Year


Rhea Holleman, a junior at Bemidji High School, has been named the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area Youth of the Year.

She will represent the Bemidji Club at the Boys & Girls Club Minnesota Youth of the Year competition on March 19 in Bloomington. As a state finalist, she will receive a $1,000 scholarship and compete with teens from other Minnesota Clubs for $10,000 in state scholarships and the chance to advance to the Midwest Regional Youth of the Year event.

“We are pleased to have Rhea represent our Club and our community at the state level,” said Andrea Ohnstad, executive director. “She has grown into a leader and role model and is well respected by Club staff and peers for her kindness and inspiration to serve others.”

Holleman has been a Club member for nine years and has participated in formative programs, including Smart Girls to help her make good choices for emotional, social and physical well-being. She participates in Leadership Club for teens and Career Launch to build professional skills for work and education.

She is a member of the Environmental Science Club, the Headwater Science Center and the youth advisory board for Unity for Yoga, where she encourages youth to be healthy.

As a Club volunteer, Holleman helps in the Club cafeteria to serve and clean up after snacks. She has been a Club teen volunteer at the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, the Science Center and Senior Community Clean-Up Day. In February, she was a featured speaker at the Club’s annual gala.

At Bemidji High School, Holleman is a member of the band and pep band, part of the business academy and has been a mentor and coach as part of the Students First project. In 2017, she was a member of the BHS Junior ROTC program to build skills in character, leadership and citizenship.

Holleman plans to attend Bemidji State University and pursue a career in public relations.

Judges for the 2019 Bemidji Youth of the Year included: Betsy Gorski, Club board member and dean of students and behavioral specialist for the Laporte School District; Suzanne Liapis, board member of the George W. Neilson Foundation; Tim Lutz, superintendent of the Bemidji School District, ISD 31; and Karla Schumacher, Club volunteer and advocate.

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:

2019 – Rhea Holleman

2018 — Allie Shimkus, Minnesota State Youth of the Year

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