Youth of the Year: Brattleboro teen to compete on regional level

BRATTLEBORO — Derrick Harnish is a true example of an extraordinary young man.

At age 17, he has just been selected to represent the state of Vermont in the northeast regional Youth of the Year competition in New York City this summer. He will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members from 14 northeast states for the title of the Northeast Regional Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship.

As the Youth of the Year for The Boys & Girls Clubs of Brattleboro, Harnish is among hundreds of local youth across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for his sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.

Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. The title recognizes outstanding contributions to a member's family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome.

Harnish is a junior at Brattleboro Union High School and is looking forward to attending college after graduation. When he gets to college Harnish is planning on studying writing, music and maybe politics and hopes to one day combine all of those to help make people laugh while making the world a better place.

A fixture at the club on Flat Street since he was 10 years old, Harnish is President of Keystone (teen leadership) Club and a club junior staff member. When he is not at the club, Derrick can often be found working on a project or a performance at the New England Youth Theater or doing a community service project with the Interfaith Youth Group.

In a heartfelt ceremony in Montpelier Thursday night attended by family, friends, members of the Legislature, and members of the Boys & Girls Clubs from all over the state of Vermont, Harnish was not only honored to be named the Vermont Youth of the Year winner, but he also received a $5,000 scholarship provided by Disney and Toyota, and a $1,000 scholarship from 99 Restaurants.

Derrick really shows what it means to be Youth of the Year. He works hard and gives back, for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. He is always a role model and positive influence to those around him. His good nature, sense of humor and caring for others just radiates off of him. He will represent Brattleboro and Vermont very well.

If Harnish wins at the Northeast Regional competition, he will compete for the title of National Youth of the Year and an additional $15,000 scholarship. The five regional winners will compete in Washington, D.C., in late September or early October 2017 for the title of BGCA's National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year receives the additional $15,000 college scholarship and is installed by the President in an Oval Office ceremony.

Ricky Davidson is the chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro. He can be contacted at


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