Youth a focus for Rotary conference meeting

Youth a focus for Rotary conference meeting

CHAMPAIGN — Rotary isn't just for the grown-ups.

Clubs in Champaign sponsor local high school and college groups — with the goal of teaching them about community service at a young age.

"If they learn about service at a young age, it will be easy to develop that as you get older," said Cathy Rector of the Champaign West Rotary Club.

That's why youth will be a big focus this weekend when Rotarians from more than 50 clubs in 25 East Central Illinois counties gather for the annual District 6490 conference in Champaign. Last year's conference was in Bloomington; Champaign will host this year and next, Rector said.

Rector and husband Jon are co-chairs of the "Celebrate Service" conference, set for today and Sunday at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1501 S. Neil St.

Rector said there will be between 200 to 225 Rotarians at the event, and for the first time, many of the participants will be high school and college students.

"We really are focusing on the youth this year," said Rector, who explained that some of the speakers and programs at the conference will touch on youth themes. "We're making it a little more upbeat to get younger members, and women, more interested in the district level."

Rector said District 6490 is very progressive in a lot of ways. "It's very fun," she said.

In addition to district governor Larry Pennie of the Bloomington-Normal Sunset Rotary Club, special guests of the conference include Takanor Sugitani of Japan, who will be representing Rotary International.

In addition to various educational sessions at the conference, achievement awards will be given to clubs and individuals, and special recognition will be paid to Rotarians with 50-plus years of service and women with 25-plus years. Women didn't become members of Rotary until the 1980s.

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