By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
A newly formed group of young professionals will ramp up membership in 2021 as they strive to become Yukon’s next generation of business leaders.
Yukon Young Professionals is open to anyone age 21-42 years. Their mission is to build a solid foundation for its members to thrive in the Yukon community.
Yukon Young Professionals is focusing on professional growth as they build their new organization.
“We are looking for individuals who just love our city and want to see it grow,” said co-chair Jalynn Smith.
Smith said she found that many business leaders who have made Yukon one of Oklahoma’s fastest-growing cities will retire soon. This new group is aiming to carry the torch.
“There really isn’t much in place to help them feel comfortable leaving it to us,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that we could show the older generation that we are educated, we are strong, and we are looking forward, along with our city,” Smith said.
Smith leads Yukon Young Professionals’ advisory board alongside co-chair Rae James.
“I grew up in Yukon and love this town with all my heart,” James said. “I look forward to learning and growing with other young professionals in the area as well as taking part in molding the future of the community that molded me.”
The new organization will help members develop professionally.
Smith gave examples of how the group can “help the young professionals moving forward” – such as understanding the importance of dressing correctly to a job interview or how to properly respond to a business email.
Yukon Young Professionals also will partner with area schools to help prepare that “next generation” of young professionals before they join the workforce.
“I think that will help us understand how to communicate and bridge the generational gap,” Smith said.
The group recently convened an organizational advisory board meeting at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce office, 10 W Main.
Other advisory board members talked about why they wanted to become part of Yukon Young Professionals. Member Melissa Wedman, a 2003 Yukon High School graduate, had moved away from her hometown for eight years before returning to her roots.
“For me, it was time to come home and raise our kids,” Wedman said. “This is the community I’ve grown up in and watched the growth happen – from the new Walmart being a farm field for years before.
“We need to provide a community that our kids can thrive in professionally going forward.”
‘FROM THE GROUND UP’
Although he’s not a Yukon native, Justin Urbina has lived here for five years. He embraces this chance to serve in a leadership capacity.
“It’s exciting to be part of something from the ground up, see what that entails and doing the work toward that,” Urbina said.
Urbina, who grew up in Altus, believes Yukon Young Professionals’ members will share valuable knowledge and tools needed “to succeed in whatever it is they’re doing.”
“You’re also giving them the avenue to achieve that, through networking,” he said.
With the Internet and social media, Urbina said many local young professionals are finding success without having a “storefront” business.
Yukon Chamber CEO Pam Shelton said the Yukon Young Professionals will “bring some excitement” to the local business community.
“It’s nice to see a new view and people who bring new ideas,” Shelton said.
Young professional Alexa McNeil sees several benefits to joining this upstart Yukon organization.
“For me, the biggest bonus for this group is networking,” McNeil said. “And getting to meet other young professionals to see how they run their businesses or how they contribute to their business if they work for someone else.
“So much of the time, we put our head down and ‘work, work, work’. And we don’t look up to see who else can help us and what community is around us to lock arms with to help us be successful.”
Learn more about becoming part of Yukon Young Professionals by contacting Smith at (405) 482-4554 or James at (405) 996-7356.