Rotary values community leadership.  It is the core of Rotary values.
We recognize, however, that young people do not simply grow up to be such leaders.  They need mentors, role models, and training.  Sebastopol Rotary works hard to interest students in leadership and helps them learn what that means by supporting them as they take on community obligations for the first time.
               Interact ClubsInteract is a service club for young people ages 12-18 who want to be involved in their local community and around the world.  With the support of teachers and club members, they join together to tackle issues in their community they care most about.  Through Interact, young people can:
- Carry out hands-on service projects
- Make international connections
- Develop leadership skills
- Have fun!
Interact teaches students about the importance of community and international service.  Students learn leadership skills, citizenship, teamwork, organization, and project coordination. The Interact students are responsible for planning, financing, organizing, and carrying out their own activities and projects. 
There are currently four schools with about 125 students in total participating in Interact clubs that Sebastopol Rotary supports:
- Analy High School (began 1969); 
- Brook Haven Middle School: (began 1995, when it was just the second junior high school Interact club in the world);     
- Twin Hills School: (began 2012).
The clubs find many ways to sustain their communities, and every year, they all raise significant amounts of money for good causes.  
In 2019-20, the Analy club celebrated its 50th anniversary.  Until interrupted by the coronavirus shutdown, tits 30 members were having a busy and productive year.  At Christmas, they participated in Adopt-a-Family, which this year selected 26 local families who needed help to ensure their children had a joyful holiday season.  As always, the students prepared gift boxes for each family filled with gifts and goodies and delivered them with the help of the Sebastopol Fire Department.  The club next helped set up and serve at the Crab Feed, earning money for its charitable donations.  It funded 1000 books for a library in Malawi, $1000 for the Redwood Empire Food Bank, $500 for the Ceres Food Project in Sebastopol, and $500 to help coronavirus testing in Windsor.  In addition, the club received a donation of two trucks of toys, which it turned around and distributed to needy kids in West County.  For all its good work, the Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce recognized the club with its Youth Service Award this year.  
In 2019-20, the Brook Haven club had 25 members.  They held a successful coat drive for the homeless in the fall, but much of their effort centered on fundraisers for local charities. These included lollypop sales on Valentine's Day, a jog-a-thon, ice cream sales after school, and setting up and serving at the Club's Crab Feed.  Their efforts raised $1000, from which they donated $250 each to Ceres, the Interfaith Food Pantry, the Humane Society, the Humane Society, and the Living Room, which serves homeless and at-risk families.  
The Twin Hills club was just as active.  The club's 35 members had an active year in 2019-20.  In the fall, they ran a drive for socks for the Living Room to give to those in need and collected 275 pairs.  At Christmas, they were part of Adpot-A-Family, and, in addition, made about 20 fleece blankets for the Living Room.  In February, they helped set up the Crab Feed.  To raise additional money for charity, the held a game night, which raised about $700.  The money was divided three ways: $300 toward yearbooks for 8th graders who could not afford them; $300 for Ceres; and $300 for the Inter-faith Food Pantry.
The Analy club also raised money with dances.  In addition, it did a Lip Sync contest and waited tables at the club's February Crab Feed, where the students' tips went to support their charitable gifts.
All the clubs took part in the Adopt-A-Family program, which provides gifts and good cheer, all delivered by fire truck, to needy families at the holidays. 
In November, 2017, the Sonoma West Times published a lengthy story about our Interact clubs, about which we invite you to read more here
               - Rotary Youth Leadership Awards for Camp RYLA - Until 2018, every year Analy High School juniors eagerly applied to attend Camp RYLA, where they had fun while developing leadership skills from business, social, professional, and educational leaders who share their ideas, techniques, philosophy, and inspirational messages.  The Rotary Club of Sebastopol selected and sponsored as many as five applicants for one week at Leadership Camp during the summer before their senior year of high school.  They were part of a large group of approximately 65 students from all over District 5130.  Award recipients have exhibited notable efforts in class curriculum, sports, student government, clubs such as Interact, outside organizations, and the community.  The object was to award students who have demonstrated potential for quality leadership development, and to encourage growth of these leadership qualities through Camp RYLA. 
Gabriel, one of the club’s students who attended the camp said: “I would definitely recommend RYLA because "RYLA really changed my life for the better, and I want other students to have the opportunities that I had at RYLA.”
Our members were actively involved in RYLA from developing and updating applications forms, interview questions and flyers to meeting with high school counselors, sharing the Camp RYLA program at Interact meetings, interviewing the applicants, and co-hosting the welcome BBQ with the Sebastopol Sunrise Club on the first day of camp. 
In 2019, we participated in lengthy discussions at the District about overhauling the camp experience.  We had expected to resume RYLA with a new and improved program this year, but the coronavirus intervened.  We will report developments as soon as they happen.  You will be able to find out about any changes here or at the District's RYLA website, www.ROTARY5130RYLA.
               - Rotary International Youth Exchange – Rotary International’s Youth Exchange program sponsors more than 9000 high school student exchanges globally each year to advance cultural understanding, international goodwill, and peace. During the last four years, we have welcomed students from Denmark, Paraguay, Austria, and Finland.  Our kids have gone to Italy, Taiwan, Switzerland, and Denmark.  The coronavirus has caused the cancellation of all visits in 2020-21, but we will post further information when it is received.
Jackie Moreira, a club member who has been both a host and counselor for the program, says, “I continue to be amazed by the value of this program, the growth I see in these incredible young people, and the friendships built and sense of community it creates around the world. These students build lasting friendships with their host families as well as their fellow exchange students. They return home with intense feelings of goodwill toward America that most certainly helps promote world peace and understanding.“
All students who are a minimum of 15 ½ years old and not more than 18 ½ years of age at departure in August are eligible to apply.  A student’s relationship to a Rotarian is neither a preference nor a disqualification.  The keys to success as an exchange student are social flexibility, desire to learn about the host country and its people, courtesy, honesty, and participation in school and host family activities. 
Students are carefully assigned to a minimum of two and a maximum of four host families during their 10-month stay.  All Rotary Host Parents are non-paid volunteers who willingly open their homes and are dedicated to the student’s well-being.
For inbound exchange students, Rotary puts on a whitewater rafting trip in August and a fun weekend in San Francisco in October.  Inbound and students selected to be outbound the following school year attend the Rotary District Conference in May.
If you would like information on becoming an outbound student or are interested in becoming a host family, click here.