Legacy Youth Institute - Graduation Banquet
Press Release:

Legacy Youth Institute class of 2016 presents initiatives at graduation banquet

Branson, MO – April 14, 2016 – Students participating in this year’s Legacy Youth Institute (LYI), a six-session leadership and mentoring program designed to equip student leaders to pass on the area’s “Ozark Mountain Spirit” to future generations, celebrated their completion of the program at a graduation banquet held at the Best Western Inn and Conference Center in Branson West.

LYI students from Branson, Forsyth, Galena, Hollister, Reeds Spring, and School of the Ozarks presented their legacy initiatives, which are designed to champion one or more of the legacy values—Family, Faith, Friends, Flag, and Future—in their schools.

“We have encouraged LYI students to not only personally commit to preserving the values of the area, but also to model for their peers how to do that too,” said Jory Rolf from Ozark Mountain Legacy. “These school initiatives are a great way for them to practice being legacy leaders right now.”

Students from Forsyth plan to do a Penny Drive between May 2 and 6 during the 7th hour class to raise money for Temporary Home, an organization that provides temporary, emergency shelter for youth in need. The students chose Temporary Home as the recipient of the funds because they have seen a real need in their community for young people to have a safe place to go when they face family and other difficulties. The class the raises the most money will receive cookies sponsored by Branson Bank.

The Galena students created a Facebook page (Camp Galena) to help raise money to send students to Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp for kids and teens who have life-threatening illnesses and disabilities. The students organized a bake sale to raise funds and have awarded fellow student Aarika Whitted the opportunity to attend camp this summer. They plan to have an auction on May 6 to raise additional funds so they can send more kids to Camp Barnabas in the future.

School of the Ozarks students plan to partner with two non-profit organizations. S of O boys will work with Teen Challenge, a ministry that helps people struggling with life-controlling problems. S of O girls will work with The Caring People, a ministry for single moms.

Branson students plan to give 40 fellow students who cannot afford senior pictures the opportunity to have them taken. Through their faculty sponsor, Barbie Kolb, the LYI students will make contact with these students and their families through the social work and school counseling offices. Two Branson LYI students who are skilled at photography will take the pictures, which will be printed and given to the senior students. Their hope is that by this simple act of kindness, they can touch these students’ lives.

Students from Reeds Spring are working alongside the school to promote a new tool called Naviance, a comprehensive college and career readiness solution for middle and high school students that helps align student strengths and interests to post-secondary goals, and to improve student outcomes. The LYI students plan to work individually with the many transfer students in the district during guided study hall to help them learn how to use Naviance.

Hollister students are planning “Tiger Nights”—free monthly movie nights for the community. They hope that these evenings will provide an opportunity for those who can’t afford to go out to the movies to enjoy a night out with their families. The students will work to find sponsors so that the events can be free.

After presenting their initiatives, LYI students heard from Jim Barber, who discussed how life’s hardships can be a catalyst for extending help and hope to others. Barber shared that he recently lost his wife, Diane, to cancer. During her illness, they discovered the need for a palliative care facility in the Branson area, so that people who are at the end of their lives can have a place, besides their homes, to pass peacefully and in comfort. In Diane’s honor, Barber, in partnership with the Skaggs Foundation, started the Palliative Care Memorial Fund.

“That’s what Branson is about. It’s about helping people, helping the community,” said Barber. “We want to stay here. We love this community. We want to give back in whatever ways we can.”

Barber encouraged the students to find ways to invest in their community. Rolf is confident that these LYI students are ready.

“We have been so impressed with the passion and enthusiasm of these students to contribute to their communities,” said Rolf. “Getting to know these young leaders has given me confidence that our community is in good hands in the future.”

For more information about the Legacy Youth Institute, please contact Ozark Mountain Legacy at (417) 598-1314, or visit or


Ozark Mountain Legacy is our area’s non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting, and championing our core values of Family, Faith, Friends, Flag, and Future to ensure the continued success of our Ozark Mountain Spirit as we Pass It On to future generations. (

Students from Forsyth High School share their Legacy Initiative

Students from Galena High School take a “selfie” with the crowd before
sharing their “Camp Galena” Legacy Initiative

Students from Branson High School Share their Legacy Initiative

Students from Reeds Spring High School share their Legacy Initiative

Students from Hollister High School share their Legacy Initiative

Students from School of the Ozarks share their Legacy Initiative

Laura Topel, Postmaster from Kirbyville, shares her testimony
before leading the Pledge of Allegiance

LYI Graduation Banquet 2016, students, families and city leaders

Jim Barber shares his testimony honoring his late wife Diane Barber

Jim Barber shares a powerful and emotional message at the LYI Banquet

LYI Graduating Class of 2015-2016


2016 LYI Initiatives:

Click Below to View 2016 LYI School Initiatives
lyi lyi lyi lyi
Branson LYI Initiative Forsyth LYI Initiative Galena LYI Initiative Reeds Spring LYI Initiative

















Legacy Youth Institute | PO Box 7070 | Branson, MO 65615 | 417-598-1314 |