Weaver leads youth programs

Back in August, the Southern Ute Education Department welcomed Dustin Weaver into two new roles, both as the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory (SCSYAC) and Youth Employment Program (YEP) Coordinator.

As the YEP coordinator, he is responsible for working directly with the Tribal Government (Permanent Fund and Growth Fund), Casino and other outside entities for summer employment opportunities for tribal member youth and first decedents aged 14-18 years. Collaborating with SCSYAC and YEP, Weaver stated that one of his goals is to, “get youth councilmembers working within YEP so they are able to shadow and hopefully learn from their own Tribal Council.” He will work with approximately 50 youth this summer to place them with the appropriate departments, track their working hours and monitor their work production.

Weaver is no stranger to the YEP program, as he was one of the first kids to start in the program when he was 15 years old. His first job with the program started in the Higher Education teaching program as an aid, he was working alongside Education Department Director, LaTitia Taylor at the time. Before starting with the education department this year, he was working with the Culture Department as a temporary worker and before that he spent seven years working for the Sky Ute Casino Resort.

With his years of experience and three college degrees, Weaver plans on keeping the programs running and hopes to implement new trainings for each. He graduated from Ignacio High School in 2002 and went on to receive his Associates degree from the University of Johnson and Wales in 2004 in Culinary Arts. Not stopping there, Weaver graduated from Johnson and Wales for a second time in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Food Service Management and again in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Event Management. “I’m grateful to the community and tribal members who pushed me to apply—I think this will be a great educational experience,” Weaver expressed.

As the SCSYAC coordinator, he will help the youth council schedule regular meetings, keep updated minutes and give them leadership opportunities. According to their website, SCSYAC is dedicated to being the voice of the Tribe’s youth. They are setting an example of leadership for the community by participating in tribal activities and events. In addition to going to school and extracurricular activities, the councilmembers are committed to some big projects on the reservation. The latest project being the youth skatepark which is currently in its planning and construction phase. For the past five years the youth council has hosted the Jimmy Newton Jr. Youth Conference. This year they are working to create the first ever youth general meeting. “The kids always work hard, but they find a way to make it fun,” Weaver said.

Both programs are dedicated to increasing awareness and empowering the Southern Ute Indian Tribal youth to use their voice within their communities. “I want to keep the kids hopeful, because they are our future—and we must all lead them by example,” Weaver stated.

In the by-laws of the SCSYAC, meetings are open to any Southern Ute tribal member under the age of 18 and they are encouraged to speak out about any topic that may be of interest or require the action of the council. Adults are allowed to attend the meetings, but only to supervise. To join or learn more about each program, visit Dustin Weaver at the Education Department located at 330 Burns Ave, in Ignacio, Colo. Or contact via Email: Phone: 970.563.2786


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