“Youth are everywhere, they will always be around, and they will always need leaders to help guide them. That’s why the work we do at Youth Farm is so important.” We couldn’t agree more with these words from Northside Project LEAD Michael Seye, who has time and again proven to be an influential leader. 

Michael serving up a Youth Farm salad bar at a summer community event.

Michael has been a dedicated member of the Youth Farm family for seven years. When he was just eight years old his mom saw a Youth Farm flyer and thought our programs might be a good way to get young Michael involved in community activities. We are happy she did because Michael has never looked back and is now in his second year as a Project LEAD.

Michael’s Youth Farm story is a testament as to why we so highly value our progressive programming model. As a Youth Farmer, he explored urban agriculture and cooking, he grew as a role model during his time as an All Star, and he is currently working on building strong leadership and career skills through his role as a Project LEAD.

“Since I started at Youth Farm, I have never taken a break from it,” Michael said. “I love it here and decided to take on the Project LEAD position because Youth Farm offers opportunities that other high school employment programs don’t. Here I am given responsibility to lead other youth and problem solve along the way. Because I am given such an important role, I feel like I am able to make changes in my community that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to make.”

It is always exciting to hear that our youth value our programs and feel as though they are learning from them, but so much of the change our youth are affecting in their communities is happening on their own terms. Michael is not only a leader at Youth Farm, he is also a leader in his own household and community.

“At Youth Farm I have learned a lot of life skills like cooking and gardening,” Michael said. “These skills are really practical and useful in my everyday life. At home I cook dinner for my family two days a week and, although at my house we only have a few potted plants, I have used my gardening skills to help my best friend’s mom plan, plant, and manage her garden.”

It is clear that Michael has a passion for cooking and gardening, but his interests only begin there. This year he is a sophomore at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts where he is able to further explore his interest and talent for acting. It has been awesome to watch as Michael brings his expertise in performance arts to the Youth Farm family. We can always count on him to feel comfortable in front of the microphone at community events and to instruct younger youth in a fun and engaging way. With so many skills going for him, we are excited to see where Michael ends up in high school and beyond.

Michael with climate activist Tara Houska after he attended an environmental justice panel this spring with important city leaders.

“Even though they are not similar at all, my two chosen career paths right now are either acting or chemical engineering,” Michael said. “No matter what I choose, I for sure want to stay involved at Youth Farm throughout high school and hopefully beyond that. I know that mentoring and leading youth will be part of my life, even into adulthood. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but I want young people to know what opportunities are available to them and that they can make a difference no matter how young they are. Youth are the future!”

As Michael advances throughout his high school career, we hope to continue to help him in developing valuable life skills. Beyond that though, we know we have a lot to learn from him. Our youth continue to teach us more and more about the world every day. If no one has told you lately, our future is in good hands.