Youth Advisory Board
What is it?
The Youth Advisory Board was created in 2019 with the hopes of getting more input from youth across our state. This was created to offer insight, ideas, and collaborate with Please Pass the Love to determine the strategic direction of our youth programming. Our board is compromised of amazing youth from across our state. We know that they are our future and they have a powerful voice that needs to be heard! Meet our Youth Advisory Board members!
Meet the Board
My name is Emily Ahrens and I am a junior at Adel Desoto Minburn high school. I have volunteered with a number of different organizations such as the local library, the food pantry and a summer camp for teens with special needs. At school I am involved with Academic Decathlon, a gifted and talented education (GATE) mentor program and student council. I have also been on the school journalism staff, the cheer squad and the speech team. When I have free time I love to swim, read and play with my dog. Mental health matters to me because I believe it is an extremely important part of a person and there needs to be more awareness surrounding it. My favorite quote is from Ellen DeGeneres and it is “be kind to one another” and I always add be kind to yourself. After high school I hope to go to college to become a pediatric or neonatal intensive care nurse.
Hello! My name is Alexis Bader, I'm 15, and I go to East High School in Sioux City. I am on East High's Student Council, Project Aware Youth Team, and this up-coming year I will be starting MVP! When not doing school activities, I volunteer at a local hospital and work at a movie theater. Mental Health is important to me because I want to bring awareness to my peers, specifically. Awareness of mental health is important to help get insight on what people might be going through, and maybe even understanding. I believe this could help students feel safer in a place they are at for over half of the year. After high school, I want to go to college to study psychology. I think the human mind/behavior is really interesting! I'm ready to make a difference! :)
I am a student at Waukee High School. I enjoy participating in many activities, such as taekwondo, in which I am a second degree black belt ( I will test for third later this year).Of course, apart from these activities, I enjoy volunteering my time and abilities to a wide variety of places, from martial art academies to Please Pass the Love itself! I find that helping others is a great way to push my own difficulties away. Mental health is a subject of great importance to me. I have been exposed to the impacts of poor mental health in a vast number of experiences. This is a topic that is gaining support and understanding, but the people of this world can always understand more. Now is the perfect opportunity for awareness to be spread. After high school, I hope to enroll in a college that allows me to study for a B.S/M.D degree explore the different fields of Health and Medicine!
Hey! My name is Karsyn. I go to Norwalk High School. I am in show choir, band, marching band, theatre, speech, and art club. Mental Health is extremely important to me because it effects everyone, even if they don’t notice it and in youth, it is one of the biggest contributing factors to not being able to succeed to you fullest potential. After high school, I want to go to college for live audio and show production, and then after that go for theatre and dance. Remember, you’re worth matters!!!
My name is Ashton Cheers and I currently go to Creston Community High School. Throughout my high school years, I have volunteered dealing with children; weather that be art camp or even being a Sunday School Assistant. Besides the volunteering, I participate in my high school band along with having a part-time job; in my free time I like to do photography, which is what I wish to pursue in after high school. Within my high school years, I have had my rounds fighting depression and didn’t always have someone to go to. I personally feel that everyone needs that one person they can talk to when having mentally rough times, and I wish to make that happen.
I am a 2nd year at Drake University. I am a Psychology major with a double minor in Political Science and Japanese. At Drake, I am a member of the Japanese club where we try to spread knowledge of the Japanese culture and language. I’ve volunteered with Please Pass the Love at their Pub Trivia event and the 2019 Youth Summit. I worked with the Madison County Democrats for the 2016 electoral caucuses. Mental health matters to me because growing up in this modern society I’ve had many first-hand experiences with mental health. Over the years I’ve seen how detrimental mental illness can be to a person no matter their age. I think now is a better time than ever to get the ball rolling on making a difference and getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness. After college, I am wanting to work overseas in Asia as a political advisor. I also want to continue to spread the word about mental illness in places that still shun the idea of it.
My name is Bella Fleming, and I will be entering my senior year at Waukee High School in the fall of 2019. I am involved in both club, and high school swim team, and my school’s mental health club. After graduating from Waukee, I plan to attend college to earn my bachelor's degree in psychology, while minoring in education. I have a big passion for mental health because I believe one person's story can help bring awareness, and help end negative stigmas associated with mental illnesses.
Hi! My name is Claudia Gay, and I am a sophomore at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids Iowa. I have volunteered at multiple kids camps and am on a teen advisory board for National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). I enjoy playing musical instruments, swimming, debate, and mock trial. Mental health matters to me because I have seen the affects of it first hand in my classmates and they dont get the support they need. After high school I plan to attend college to get a law degree.
Hello! My name is Kaylee Hardin and I am currently a senior at CAM High School in Anita, IA. After I graduate, I plan on attending Northwest Missouri State University and majoring in Agriculture Education. Over the course of my high school career, I have been working towards my Silver Cord, and I have also been involved in a lot of groups that have helped me give back by volunteering. I’ve helped at the Covered Bridge Festivals in Madison County, I’ve helped organize and put on a few Blood Drives, help put together an annual fundraiser for an individual in need, and a handful of different things. I feel like volunteer work is incredibly humbling, and it gives everyone a chance to really give back. My schedule is pretty packed as I am in Large Group and Individual Speech, I am the Secretary of my FFA Chapter, I am involved in our school’s newspaper, I’m a cheerleader and I’m also in National Honor Society. When I found out about Please Pass the Love, I was very excited because it was an organization that would help allow me to pass a message that mental health isn’t something that someone should go through alone.
I am a junior at Earlham High School. I do numerous volunteer work throughout the year. Some of my favorites include helping at county and state fair, Meals From the Heartland, dia de los muertos, and a range of camps. I am involved in volleyball, soccer, Spanish Club, Teens for L.O.V.E., renaissance, NHS, and StuCo. Mental Heath matters to me because when people are involved in multiple activities, plus school, they have less time to devote to themselves. I have also seen many people with poor mental health and I want to work to make sure that less people have that. After high school, I would like to go to college to be a PA or pediatrician because I love working with children. After college, I hope to give back to the community I live in and help support those with mental illness.
My name is Grace Kohler and I will be a Sophomore at Iowa City High School this fall. My volunteer experience is linked to the fact that I am a Senior in Girl Scouts and a member of St. Marks’s youth group. Girl Scouts is involved in partnering with organizations and hosting/co-hosting events, as well as helping the community any way we can. Every year, St. Marks travels to different locations in the U.S. to help serve struggling communities for a week. Activities I participate in are both fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball with three teams: City High, St. Marks, and Rec. I also am going to get back into backstage for theater as it was my passion during my Junior High years. Mental health is important to me because I have been suffering from anxiety and depression most of my life, but was just recently diagnosed. And many of my close friends also have mental illnesses. After college, I plan on either being a Forensic Psychologist or a Child Protective Services Agent. I want to focus on being a CPS Agent because I want to help children who are being raised in unsafe environments and by abusive guardians.
My name is Marissa Lindemann and this year I will be a sophomore at Nevada High School. Some of my extracurriculars include dance, serving as a student ambassador, key club, choir, and band. I'm also my school GSA's vice president and currently working to create a Teens for Love at Nevada. One of my favorite places to volunteer is kids@first, a youth program where I work mostly with elementary students. When I graduate from highschool, I plan on going to UNI to receive my bachelors degree in environmental science and eventually pursuing a job as a field conservationist. Mental health matters to me from a personal standpoint because many members of my family struggle with conditions. I know how hard it can be to have a mental health condition, but especially to be a loved one of someone who is struggling with that illness. I want to help support those individuals and give them the skills necessary to cope in that environment. I believe that Please Pass the Love can do great work to help improve teen mental health in the state of Iowa, which is why I'm so excited to serve on this year's youth board.
My name is Michael Mitchell, I am going into my junior year at Waukee High School. I have done a few different types of volunteering; I have volunteered at Meals From The Heartland multiple times, I also volunteered many times for the Fred Hubbell for Governor campaign while he was running. I am currently looking for volunteer opportunities with Bernie Sanders campaign as well. I am currently involved in a few extra-curricular activities at Waukee High School. First I am on Spirit, our junior varsity show choir. The second extra-curricular activity that I am apart of is the Junior Varsity Football Cheerleading squad. Lastly, I am a student council representative for my grade. I really enjoy being apart of these activities and hope to continue throughout my high school career.
Mental health is one of the most important aspects of society today. Personally, myself and friends have had struggles with mental health and some continue today. I do not want there to be a stigma around mental health for not only teenagers but adults too. I hope we can work together to help our society view mental illnesses and disorders like any other medical condition. By doing this and getting rid of the stigma behind mental illnesses we could help people be open to getting help. There could be more people looking for professionals to talk to and looking for treatment. Mental health should not ever be something that someone is ashamed of and I feel we could help. After high school, I hope to go to a university in Washington D.C. for political science, international studies, and German studies. After I finish my first four years I am expecting to go on to law school. After college I want to pursue a career in politics, hopefully starting in local and state elections. One day I want to work for the US Embassy in Germany. In whatever career I get into I hope to use that position to make a difference.
My name is Megan Nelson. I attend East High School, in Sioux City, Iowa. I am in 11th grade. My volunteer experience does not span very far, I have only ever volunteered at my local Humane Society. I am not involved in any extracurricular activities. Mental health matters to me because I know what it's like to feel like you are all by yourself. I want schools and communities to understand that there is always someone rooting them on, even if it is from the sidelines. Students should feel safe at their schools. Many students these days feel embarrassed to talk about mental health at school. They feel that people will tell them that they are "faking" a mental illness or doing it for attention. I strive to educate students and communities on how mental health should be talked about. It should never be something that someone is ashamed of. I plan to have a job in either early childhood development or social work after high school.
Jaelyn is now a Junior at Waukee High School. She has been with Please Pass the Love for the past year, starting as a youth attendee at the first annual youth summit before she became a Junior Board Member. Now, she is a part of our Youth Advisory Board. She founded, in co-part with Ardith Binhu, the Teens for LOVE sub-group at Waukee. Jaelyn became a mental health advocate after witnessing those around her struggling with mental health in school and in the community. Besides all of her work at Please Pass the Love, Jaelyn loves to spend her free time doing things she loves. She volunteers at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) and does theater programs at her school. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, performing, public speaking, and spending time with her friends and family. She has yet to decide on a career path. However, she has narrowed down her aspirations to human or animal sciences.
My name is DaLynn Pokorny. I will be a senior at North Tama High School. I am involved in NHS, FCCLA, yearbook club, band, color guard, TAG, Student Council and am a volleyball manager. Some of my volunteer experience includes making and serving food for the monthly Traer senior citizen meal as well as the annual CIRSI Christmas Party. I also enjoy volunteering within my community whenever help is needed. Mental health matters to me because when I was younger, my mom worked in a mental health institute and I grew up being exposed to mental health. I met several people who dealt with mental health problems along the way. I have always felt a deep connection with people who deal with mental health problems, so I feel like I need to be there for them, no matter what. After high school, I will attend college majoring in nursing and minoring in Spanish.
My name is Hanna Rehbein, I go to Norwalk High school. I like to volunteer at meals for the heartland and any place where I am helping people! At school I’m involved in soccer managing our girls soccer team I participate in other activities such as RSVP (raising students voices and participation). I personally struggle with mental illness, which is what makes me so passionate to help other teens know that they aren’t alone and that there is help. Along with my passion for helping people I would someday like to be an elementary teacher. Right now as I am in high school I am working towards my associates degree. Once I get that I plan on going to a university to get a degree in childhood education and a minor degree in special education.
Hi, my name is Sophia Schillinger. I will be a senior this upcoming year at the Cedar Falls High School in Cedar Falls. My volunteering started at my church. I worked the community meals, went to the food bank for youth group as well as the Waterloo Catholic Worker House. But my favorite volunteer opportunity at my church is the lasagna dinner we put on. I am usually a waiter and love getting to see so many faces that night. I was also a part of Teen Trust, a volunteer program for high school students in Black Hawk County that allocates a grant to a non-profit in need. My all time favorite volunteering is picking up trash around my school and cleaning out the recycling bins. The environment is a really big interest of mine and I love to know I am helping it. I am involved in cross country, track, our school environmental club, democrats club, Active Minds, Women's Leadership, and the school newspaper.
Mental health matters to me because it's real and more and more adolescents are experiencing mental health issues. It is as real as a broken leg. People may not acknowledge it as much as a broken leg, but I want to change that. I want everyone to feel like they can talk to someone, and that they have a support system, like I do. I am very excited about being on the student board for Please Pass the Love and bringing mental health awareness to my high school. I have a lot of interests, which makes choosing a major for college difficult. I hope to find myself in a career related to the environment, social justice, psychology and writing.
My name is Isabelle Schwab. I attend Hampton-Dumont-CAL High School. For volunteer work, I help coach cheerleaders who are blind or visually impaired. I also enjoy spending time and reading to my friends with special needs in the morning before school begins. My extracurricular activities include cheerleading, TAHT (Teens Against Human Trafficking), speech, drama, tennis, choir, and Knit Wits. After high school, I plan to attend college. Mental health matters to me because as a person with PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I understand what having a mental illness in a community and school is like. I want to be the change in how mental health is seen and talked about.
Hi, my name is Haylee Wilson. I go to lincoln high school. I’ve volunteered helping out the incoming freshman one year. Mental health is important to me because I’ve struggled with it for years, alongside a lot of my family. I went inpatient a few times and it opened my eyes to how much of a lack of mental health support we have all around Iowa, especially in schools. After I discharged, it was a struggle to get the support I needed at school and even sometimes outside of school. It did help open my eyes to what I want to do after high school though. My main priority is to be a tattoo artist but I’m gonna go to college for psychology. Both have always been a passion for me so I want to pursue them.
My name is Shreya Yeturu. I am a senior at Waukee High School. Outside of school, I tutor children, participate in Mock Trial, and play tennis. I am a member of uVoice, a youth philanthropy group. Mental health matters to me because it is a determining factor in your overall well being. Many people do not realize how important it is and how much of an impact it can make. I am unsure of my plans for the future, but I hope to attend college and continue spreading awareness about mental health!