Three Bell County students graduated from the Rogers Explorers program and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute this summer hosted by The Center for Rural Development.

Rogers Explorers

Two students graduated from the Rogers Explorers program – Meredith Allen and Kamryn Biliter.  Rogers Explorers is a summer youth leadership program that takes place on five different college campuses throughout the Commonwealth.

Allen is the daughter of Waylon and Angela Allen, of Middlesboro. She attended the Union College camp representing Bell Central School Center. At graduation, representatives from the college announced that students would receive a $2,000 scholarship offer upon high school graduation.

Biliter is the daughter of Chad and Danita Biliter, of Pineville. She attended the Asbury University camp representing Pineville Independent.

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.  

Rogers Explorers is a three-day and two-night program on a leading Kentucky college campus where experts will guide them through hands-on assignments. The program is provided at no cost to eligible students within The Center’s 45-county primary service area.

Rogers Explorers is presented by The Center in partnership with Lindsey Wilson College, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, Asbury University, and Union College. The 2022 application period is December 1, 2021 through February 28, 2022.  

Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute

Bell County High School student Austin Robbins graduated the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute in July. Robbins is the son of Lisa Robbins, of Middlesboro.

ELI is a weeklong summer leadership camp for student entrepreneurs. ELI provides high school students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky with an in-depth look at what it takes to start their own business venture — from idea development to building a model prototype of their business concept.

The 2022 application period is January 1, 2022 through March 31, 2022.

The Center for Rural Development partners with Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and Eastern Kentucky University to develop the program. During the camp, ELI business teams competed in the Business Concept Challenge competition. Members of the winning team earned a $16,000 scholarship from EKU.

2020 Rogers Scholars

Also honored at the graduation was 2020 Rogers Scholar Laurel Howard, a senior at Pineville Independent. The 2020 program was held virtually, so last year’s honorees were invited to the 2021 graduation. Toy is the daughter of James Howard and Melissa Howard, of Pineville.

The Center’s youth programs are made possible through the 2021 sponsors: TTAI of Somerset, South Kentucky RECC, Conley Bottom Resort, Outdoor Venture, Community Trust Bank of Somerset, First and Farmers Bank of Somerset, Kentucky Utilities, Lincoln Manufacturing, Forcht Bank of Somerset, and Vaughn and Melton of Middlesboro.

For more information about The Center’s youth programs, contact Allison Cross, community liaison and youth programs coordinator at The Center, at or call 606-677-6019.

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