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About Us

Our History

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can 

change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

It all began in the 1960’s, when a community saw the need for organized 

youth groups to have a place to meet. Boy Scouts, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Camp 

Fire Girls, F.F.A. and Junior Deputies were all involved and represented at 

the dedication of the Earnest Shepherd Memorial Youth Center.  Initial programs

consisted of overnight camp outs, softball, horse shows, youth meetings, day camps

and the annual 4-H fair.


Kemp Wood, first board president, was the driving force behind the 

vision of the Youth Center.  Numerous Clay County citizens, business 

leaders, farmers, civic groups, youth organizations, and the University 

of Missouri Extension staff played an important role in the development 

of the facility and youth programs.  However, none compared to the 

contribution of philanthropist, Edna Shepherd, who donated the land in 

memory of her late husband,  Earnest.  Her generous contribution of

60 acres encompassing woods, trails, meadows, and creeks on the outskirts of Liberty, Missouri provided the perfect setting for youth to explore and grow.  Both Kemp and Edna remained active on the board all their lives. In 2019, the current board 

of directors honored Edna by changing the Youth Center's name to DBA – Earnest & 

Edna Shepherd Youth Center.


The Youth Center is in its 62nd year of operation. Some of the programs and facility usage remains the same from those early years, however, new innovative programming was introduced in the late 1980’s which enhanced the Youth Center's mission.  These programs, focusing on youth team building and leadership skills, introduced area schools to the Youth Center and established long-term partnerships with area suburban, urban, and rural school districts. 


Generation upon generation have participated in the programs offered by the Youth Center to the community with over 850,000 youth and community members being served throughout the years.   The Youth Center's legacy continues...

Our Mission

At Earnest & Edna Shepherd Youth Center, we're committed to providing educational, leadership, and recreational programs and facilities for youth and the community that foster character development and create a learning laboratory to help youth help themselves.


Our Leadership

Board of Directors 2024

Ann Waterman


Kent Peterson

Vice President

Patricia Knauss


Mike Keleher

Corporate Secretary

Don Carlyle

Board Member

Stevie Green

Board Member

Mike Guidry

Board Member

Dail Hobbs

Board Member

Bryon Jeffers

Board Member

Brian Mason

Board Member

Robert Raulie

Board Member

Board Member

Jim Smith

George Townsend

Board Member

Jim Waterman

Board Member

John Woods

Board Member

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