I get pretty excited when I see youth leadership and enterprise funding trickle down from the business and sports industries.  As a Sea Hawks fan, I had to share this news clip with you.

Symetra and the Seattle Seahawks have awarded Auburn Mountainview High School with the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom® “MVP Award.” The $10,000 grant will be used by the Auburn, Wash., high school to fund an innovative student achievement program focused on sustainable agriculture.

“The best part is that students who may not fit into a traditional biology class will have the opportunity to earn alternative credits through this hands-on sustainable agriculture program — supporting an on-time graduation and a chance to acquire lifelong skills.”

The winning program, called “Cultivating Youth,” was announced late May and Auburn Mountainview teacher Regina Grubb was on hand to receive the $10,000 check from Jim Pirak, Symetra senior vice president, Marketing, and Mike Flood, Seattle Seahawks vice president, Community Relations and Special Projects. Grubb, who developed the Cultivating Youth program, is an environmental science, horticulture and floral design instructor and 2012 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom recipient.

“Auburn Mountainview is very proud to receive the MVP Award. Through the award’s grant, our winning Cultivating Youth program will allow students to connect with the community via farmers markets and food banks to address hunger issues and healthy food choices,” said school principal Terri Herren. “The best part is that students who may not fit into a traditional biology class will have the opportunity to earn alternative credits through this hands-on sustainable agriculture program — supporting an on-time graduation and a chance to acquire lifelong skills.”

From my perspective, future leadership development is all about focusing on strengths and interests. Combine the two in your own leadership team development programs and you will find high commitment, engagement and accountability as rewards.

The Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program honors K-12 teachers for educational excellence throughout the NFL football season. The school of each teacher Hero was eligible to compete for this year’s MVP Award. Nominated programs were evaluated on a range of criteria, including innovation, feasibility and demonstrated need.

About ‘Cultivating Youth’

Cultivating Youth will provide at-risk students with opportunities to gain or recapture core high school credit during summer school and after school programming focused on sustainable agriculture. Students from diverse backgrounds will grow and distribute food, practicing care for the land and community through bio-intensive gardening and aquaponics. The students will follow the process from seed to market, selling the food they grow at local markets and food shares and distributing food to relief organizations. Ultimately, the program aims to engage students in personal change — teaching critical lessons about diversity, service, leadership, small business and the environment, and the importance of community contribution.

About Symetra Heroes in the Classroom®

Since 2006, nearly 150 Puget Sound-area teachers have been honored as Symetra Heroes in the Classroom. Teachers are recognized in front of their students and peers at surprise in-school presentations.

Teachers may be nominated by their principal, district staff, student or student’s parent. Here’s to an effective 360 with a financial classroom bonus! The winners are selected based on their ability to make a real difference in students’ lives; to go above and beyond in their day-to-day responsibilities; and to help students build life skills.

About Symetra

Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE: SYA) is a diversified financial services company based in Bellevue, Wash. In business since 1957, Symetra provides employee benefits, annuities and life insurance through a national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions, and independent agents and advisers.

Do You Have an Interest In Developing Youth Teams for Public Good?

The TIGERS Team Wheel Game was piloted in a program for Middle School Leadership Students shortly after the Columbine shootings years ago. Not only did the out come from this facilitated activity blow the socks off school administrators, the resulting project adopted by the youth leadership team  mentored students who seemed to sit alone during lunch periods and who appeared disenfranchised, angry or lonely.  The results changed the lives for a number of troubled youth and produced profound empathy on the part of the mentors.

I am currently looking for a funding partner to bring TIGERS into school programs for leadership programs such as these.  One of our certified consultants is a former curriculum developer for public education so the team is in place pending funding of approximately $50,000.  Call 541-385-7465 and ask for Dianne Crampton if you have an interest in learning more about this project.