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Boys & Girls Club of the Wausau Area announces 2022 Youth of the Year


The Boys & Girls Club of the Wausau Area is pleased to announce Payton Steffen, a senior at Wausau East High School, as our 2022 Youth of the Year. Payton was chosen through a rigorous selection and interview process spanning several weeks and involving a number of community partners. Our community’s Youth of the Year is presented by Wisconsin Chevy Dealers and Kocourek Automotive.


Payton has been a Member of the Boys & Girls Club of the Wausau Area for almost eight years, during which time she has grown into a leader and role model for other Members. “As Youth of the Year, I can show others how to turn their ideas into actions and help them see the potential that’s within them and highlight the difference they can make for their Club and community,” Payton said.


Youth of the Year is a signature effort of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, aimed at fostering new generations of leaders, fully prepared to live and lead in a diverse, global and integrated world economy. Throughout the year, Members are honored as Members of the Month – and from that pool of candidates, the Youth of the Year is selected.


Candidates draft a resume, create a cover letter and submit three essays as part of the qualification process. The candidates participate in interview preparations, which include answering sample questions and learning best practices for interviewing.


A community panel interviewed each finalist and made their selection Monday night. The community panel included:


  • William Harris - Wisconsin Judicare, Boys & Girls Club Board Member

  • Fritz Lehrke- D.C. Everest Area School District

  • Steve Lipowski – Ruder Ware, Boys & Girls Club Board Member

  • Pat Palecek - K&M Electric

  • Amanda Sahr - Dwight & Linda Davis Foundation

  • Marcie Wicklund-Byers - Kocourek Automotive

  • Melissa Uhlenbrauck – Community volunteer


“I’m just amazed by each of the finalists’ stories and what they’ve accomplished,” said panelist Amanda Sahr – of the Dwight & Linda Davis Foundation. “Each of them are wonderful young people, who have overcome challenges and embraced opportunities. It’s incredible to see the impact the Club has had on them over the years and it’s inspiring to see and hear about their hopes and dreams for the future.”


Payton will go onto to compete with candidates from across the state to be named Wisconsin’s Youth of the Year. The state winner will go onto the regional competition, where the winner will head to the national stage. The National Youth of the Year serves as both an exemplary ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth and as a strong voice for all of our nation’s young people. Under the direction of BGCA staff, the National Youth of the Year will attend regional and national events, and serve as a leader on key issues, by inspiring people with their personal story and helping others to replicate the success they've realized in their young life.


Youth of the Year honorees at any level – local, state, regional and national – are shining examples and living proof that GREAT FUTURES START HERE – at the Boys & Girls Club.

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