Non-profit organizations, charitable groups and other board-driven societies are stumbling upon a common problem: how do they work to connect youth so that their programs continue?

One of the ways this is being done is through the Youth @ The Table initiative, created by Volunteer Alberta. 

The program pairs young people with governance boards of charitable organizations so that they can experience what it takes to run a board and carry those legacies into the future. 

Pam Snowden is the Executive Director of Volunteer Central in Red Deer, where there are currently two young women involved in the program. 

"A lot of organizations are struggling right now with succession and getting people interested in joining their boards, and it's a necessary part of running a non-profit or organization. You need to have those boards running things," Snowden explained. 

She said a focus has shifted to how to engage young people in these boards and to change the perception that it's a boring job. 

"They think, "Oh, it's not for me, that's something my grandparents do, it's boring, you have to listen to minutes...I don't want to do that" but there's so much more to being on a board than that," Snowden said.

"There's leadership and developing new skills and being able to use the skills that you do have. You're giving back to the community but you're also developing yourself as a community member. It's also really good experience to put on your resume if you're looking to follow certain career paths. This initiative just strengthens the boards that govern the non-profit sector in Alberta."

Snowden said that with over 2000 charitable organizations in Alberta, it's going to take a lot of manpower to continue those programs, and as the volunteering population ages out, new people need to get involved. 

Aisley Miles is one of the Volunteer Central Youth @ The Table participants and is currently employed in the non-profit sector in Red Deer. 

"It's been a really valuable experience for me. I've been wanting to sit on a board for a while now, but didn't think I would have the skill set to do so," said Miles. 

Miles said she first saw the Youth @ The Table notice with the Volunteer Central newsletter and said it was pleasing to get paired up with them.

 "I originally thought it was just going to be about learning how to sit on a board, but since we are the first cohorts to go through the program, they are using our input to establish a Best-Practice Guidelines for Youth Engagement document which should be out in the spring," Miles said. 

"It's been really interesting being connected to so many other youths across the province and hearing their experiences," she added.

More information on the program will be released in Spring 2020 as they programs initial participants can provide feedback and direction going forward.