The Youth and Nonprofit Leadership (YNL) program at Murray State University has set a national student enrollment record with 819 students for the 2011-12 academic year, leading the nation in student enrollment for 21 consecutive years. This includes students in the minor, major, university studies classes and graduate programs. The major is new to the program and grew to 75 students in the first year.

YNL prepares students for leadership roles in the nonprofit sector, which includes organizations such as the American Red Cross, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, 4-H, YMCAs, hospitals, colleges and ministries. The founders of YNL at MSU are former administrators at the university — Dr. Deno Curris, currently chair of the university’s board of regents, Dr. James Booth and Dr. Chad Stewart.

According to Robin Esau, YNL program coordinator, most of the classes include a community service component that actively involves students in a project. These hands-on experiences enhance student learning and ignite their passion to positively impact the world. YNL has worked with hundreds of community projects over the years and has helped in establishing the local Big Brothers Big Sisters (now West Kentucky Mentoring), YMCA, United Way, Service Learning Scholars program, Health Matters for Students and Giving Back Scholars, as well as generating over $2,000,000 for campus and community needs. For their efforts, students have received 36 local awards and 10 national awards. YNL faculty members wrote six textbooks that are used in the higher education nonprofit sector across the country.

“I am really excited to see the growth of the major on campus, but even more excited to see the impact that our students will have on their communities in the future. I think that YNL has become one of the drawing features of MSU and the experience within the major is unmatched,” said Trey Jurgens, president of the YNL Student Association. “I did my YNL internship with MSU athletics and I have a job when I graduate with the Cincinnati Reds baseball team working with their youth summer camps.”

MSU President Randy Dunn teaches a class in the program and had this to say, “ I think the success and growth we’re seeing in the YNL program continues a long tradition at Murray State in preparing many of the nation’s best nonprofit managers and leaders. This is a critical sector that is going to see severe staffing needs across the country over the coming years, and we are working to respond to that need.

“As a member of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance board, I hear concerns about the social sector’s human capital expressed continuously by CEOs of some of the nation’s largest nonprofit enterprises — so we’re doing what we should to address those concerns,” Dunn continued. “Also, the numbers we’re seeing here at Murray State further speak to the correct decision we made at the university to move YNL to an academic major status that has seen a rapid growth of new majors declared. All of these factors combine to tell us that YNL at MSU will continue its role as a leading light in the preparation of the next generation of nonprofit leaders.”

For information on YNL academic programs, contact Esau at or (270) 809-3824.

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