Jaci Currie, Coleman Public School

Senior Junior Chamber members may submit an essay for consideration by the Economic Development Committee of the JCCC for a scholarship. Junior Chamber members meet every other month and do team building or learn about local points of interest and hear about various careers. This year they met with Wanda Gray, INCA Community Services; Joanne Ryan, Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge; and Kenny Power, Johnston County EMS. They learned about what chambers of commerce do and why they are important to their communities. Their time was cut a bit short due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop them from completing a sock drive and donating more than 500 pairs of socks to The Promise Room and a family shelter, participating in various Chamber events, and collectively volunteering almost 200 hours in Johnston County.

Jaci Currie is a $500 scholarship recipient that has been accepted to the University of Oklahoma and wrote the following essay:

“Chambers of commerce have been serving American communities since colonial times. These organizations are important for all communities, but are critical for the growth of small towns. Chambers promote their communities and stimulate economies, which attracts businesses and people to the towns. One of the chamber’s main purposes is to help businesses, and they do this by advising on marketing and the economy, expanding industries, and acting as the collective voice for their businesses. This increases the community’s prosperity, along with the chamber’s duty to provide job opportunities, manage recreational areas and activities, and add stores and restaurants. Many of the chambers, including the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce, also contribute to areas of the community that are not financial.

The Johnston County Chamber of Commerce created a Junior Chamber. This program helps high school students participate in community service activities, practice leadership skills, and learn about chambers of commerce. During the group’s first year, when I was a junior, I joined the Junior Chamber. It has taught me a lot about what the chamber does since I grew up and live in a small, rural town that has few businesses. Now I know how important chambers of commerce are and how they help my community grow and the small businesses there prosper. I was elected president of the Junior Chamber, which has helped me become a better leader. It allowed me to see how formal meetings are conducted, and even though I was unable to because of the current global situation, it inspired me to become a page for the Oklahoma State Legislature. In addition, the Junior Chamber has allowed me to participate and volunteer for many community events, like the Fourth of July celebration and the Chamber of Commerce banquet. Two of my favorite activities were helping raise money for a local park by volunteering at a haunted trail fundraiser and planning and organizing a sock drive for homeless shelters and emergency clothing banks.

Chambers of commerce, like Johnston County’s, not only help their communities in its economic aspects, but also try to personally help its people. The Junior Chamber is one way the Johnston County Chamber has done this. This program has inspired its members, including myself, to improve our towns through community service. It has taught us the importance of the chamber of commerce and how it improves our county. We have gained leadership skills and volunteered in community events. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a member of the Johnston County Junior Chamber of Commerce. This experience has taught me many valuable lessons and has made me a better person.”

We are so proud of you, Jaci!

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