We Heard Youth!


In order to fund grants that properly respond to the needs of Otsego County Youth, the OCCF Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) conducts a Youth Needs Survey. This year, our YAC came together and decided to revamp the survey to include questions that weren’t pertinent when the last survey was administered. After many edits, the survey was opened to responses from January 25th to March 1st. This year, five times as many responses were received than the last survey three years ago. What an amazing accomplishment, and we’d like to thank everyone who participated.

The Youth Needs Survey is one of, if not the most, important tool for the granting season of YAC. We had responses from all schools in the county this year, which has never happened before. We reached Gaylord Community Schools, St. Mary, Johannesburg, Vanderbilt, and Grace Baptist Schools. Noah Snyder, a member of YAC and a Vanderbilt School’s student, stated, “It’s important that Vanderbilt students take the Youth Needs Survey so we [YAC] have results relevant to the problems of the Vanderbilt student body. If, hypothetically, drug abuse is Vanderbilt’s biggest problem but there is no supporting data from the survey, the OCCF wouldn’t know that it would be beneficial to fund a pitch to combat drug abuse in our area.” Additionally, Caitlin Robbins, Gaylord Middle School eighth grade student and first year YAC member, noted, “It is important for the middle school aged students to take the Youth Needs Survey because it will provide well-educated information about the youth and what they need.” With many voices from all schools and home schoolers in the county, we hope to fund grants that best fit the current needs of the youth.

Your voice was heard. What was heard?  This year, the survey showed that the social issues that have the most negative impact on youth are Substance Abuse and Cyber-bullying, ranking the highest followed by Physical Bullying and Lack of Effort to Succeed. This ranking is completely different than results three years ago. The top three issues that cause youth stress are Education, College Prep, and Social Responsibilities. When asked about social media, 60% of youth surveyed felt that social media has a negative impact on youth. Most youth responded that they observe bullying online and in school. Otsego County’s close knit community feeling was considered to be one of the best aspects of the county.  

Hannah Johnston, Gaylord High School sophomore and YAC Secretary, served as creator and administrator of the survey. Hannah stated, “It was amazing to watch the results come in. I’d check the results and one hour later, the number increased almost exponentially,” The survey was conducted at schools across the county, and flyers were posted around the community. “Looking at the results,” said Hannah, “I was taken aback. I didn’t realize how many serious issues such as cyber-bullying and substance abuse plagued the community,” Each year, the results of the survey change, and as a Youth Advisory Committee, we couldn’t predict the results. “I wasn’t expecting such a large number of youth to feel that social media has such a negative impact, especially with the prevalence of technology.” commented Hannah. Issues such as cyber-bullying are all too common in the community, and we wish to fund grants that address this need.  

The next step is responding to the needs of local youth. During the Community Granting Program, the Youth Advisory Committee will use the survey data to make funding decisions. Lizzy Eaton, student at Johannesburg Schools and YAC member, commented, “I think the Youth Needs Survey impacts the decisions a lot because we get to see what the youth need in our community, and we can focus on grants that will help those needs. We can also see what resources are lacking and how we can fix them.” Recently, members of YAC met with representatives of the Otsego County Cop Fund of the OCCF on March 5th to discuss the results of the survey. We will be sharing the results with the Community Granting Program funding partners and other fund holders of the OCCF. 

If you would like to support the Youth Advisory Committee and their mission to provide the youth with a voice to empower the community through positive impact and growth, one grant at a time, please click here and specify the ‘Youth Fund’.