“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 61st 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...
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.
Board of Directors 2023