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Youth leaders plant trees in memory of 2014 tornado victims

Students in the Faulkner County Youth Leadership Institute planted an Oak sapling Saturday in both Vilonia and Mayflower in honor of the 2014 tornado victims.

In Vilonia, Mayor James Firestone cut a ribbon at the ceremony as well as touted the praises of the students.

“Every tree planted is a step to recovery,” Firestone said. “I want you to know, you really are making a difference.”

Program director Marie Abrams stood in the background watching as the students directed the events. More than 600 students, she said, have graduated from the program since it was established in the 90s.

The students, she said, are already leaders in their community. The top candidates who apply, she said, are selected to participate through a rigorous application process.

“The communities are in need of young leaders,” Abrams said. “We are teaching them to work together for the good of others.”

Students Noah Myers, Averi Ratliff, Jed Myers, Casey Williams, Straisley Dubois, Carson Davis and Riley Vetsch were in attendance for the Vilonia event. They also presented a check for $287 that was raised during a fundraiser held at Chick Filet, to Sandy Towles and Martha Martin of the Vilonia Disaster Recovery Alliance.

The trees were donated by Kami Marsh. And, a plaque for each location was donated by First Class Trophy in Vilonia.

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