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Five Russell County students graduated The Center for Rural Development’s youth programs this summer

Five students from Russell County graduated The Center for Rural Development’s youth programs this summer. 

Rogers Scholars

Lincoln Helm, a student at Russell County High School, graduated the 25th annual Rogers Scholars youth leadership program. Helm is the son of Gene and Sherie Helm, of Jamestown. 

Rogers Scholars, The Center’s flagship youth program, was established through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) that “no young person should have to leave home to find his or her future.” The camp focuses on honing skills in leadership, team building, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, community service, and students participate in different career pathway majors. 

The Center hosted two camps of Rogers Scholars at Morehead State University in Morehead, KY and Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY. Sixty-eight students graduated the program.

As a graduate of the program, students earn potential access to exclusive scholarships at some of the state’s top-ranked colleges and universities. In order to complete their eligibility, students have to organize their own community service project in their hometown. 

“Every summer we are impressed and inspired by the students who graduate from the program,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “They are focused on their future and passionate about the communities in which they live. These are the students who, in the future, will be leading our communities, our schools, our businesses, and our government. They give us hope for a better Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”

Rogers Scholars, along with The Center’s other youth programs, are provided tuition-free. Lodging and food are provided at no cost to participants. The application period for the 2023 Rogers Scholars Program will run from October 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023. 

Rogers Explorers

Four Russell County Middle School students graduated from the Rogers Explorers Program: Asa Woodcock, Laila Hammond, Ella Pierce, and Marlei DeVore.  

Woodcock is the son of Jason and Cynthia Woodock, and Khari Gaskins, of Nancy; Hammond is the daughter of Greg and Julie Hammond, of Russell Springs; Pierce is the daughter of Kelly Pierce and the late Shawn Pierce, of Russell Springs; DeVore is the daughter of Jeric and Davene DeVore, of Russell Springs. 

Rogers Explorers is open to eighth-grade students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky who have a strong interest in developing their skills in leadership, team building, community service, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields of study.  

Explorers is a three-day and two-night program on six different college campuses: Lindsey Wilson College, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, Asbury University, University of the Cumberlands, and Union College.

The application period for the 2023 Rogers Explorers Program will run from November 1, 2022 to February 28, 2023. 

For more information about The Center’s youth programs, contact Amy Ellis at The Center at or call 606-677-6000. To apply for any of The Center’s youth programs, visit

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In its 45-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation

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