Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Brent Anderson, a senior at American Fork High, speaks to the Youth City Council during a meeting at City Hall.

AMERICAN FORK — Evan Nuttall, a senior at American Fork High School, has all the normal worries of a high school student, along with a few added pressures.

He is not only worrying about schoolwork and planning his future, but as he walks through the halls at school he is also concerned with the future of the city he has been appointed to help look after.

As the youth mayor of American Fork, Nuttall, 17, gets plenty of opportunities to influence what goes on in his community, but with the title comes responsibility.

"I feel a little pressure to make sure things run well, but I am really happy with the people that are working with me to make things go smoothly," Nuttall said.

The city's recently organized Youth City Council comes fully equipped with a mayor, five council members, a recorder and several youth committees that mirror American Fork's elected officials.

The idea is that as the youth council discusses issues and develops opinions, it will then work hand-in-hand with the City Council to find solutions to problems in the community.

"I have been a little bit surprised at the people that come up to me and are interested," Nuttall said. "We have only been working at this for a month, and we already have a decent amount of people getting involved."

The group has tripled in size since its beginnings, and the youths have hopes of seeing the entire council chambers full of their peers as they continue to spread word of their biweekly meetings.

Since their initial contact with city officials, the youths have been impressed with the way they have been accepted by their elders on the City Council.

"I was afraid that they wouldn't be excited to have a 17-year-old help them do their job, but my councilwoman has been very willing to let me help her," youth councilwoman Bethany Richards said.

But it's the leaders who are impressed with the strength of their younger colleagues.

"They are outstanding young people that want to make a difference in the community," Councilman Shirl LeBaron said. "They want to be a voice for the youth in the community and have been very enthused and proactive."

On Jan. 23, the youth council attended the annual Local Officials Day at the Legislature, where the youths accompanied American Fork officials and observed legislative committee meetings and Senate and House proceedings.

"I have been with this from the start, and it has been a huge learning experience to see how people work together to get things done within a community," youth councilwoman Mikayla Orton said. "It is amazing to see how accessible the government really is and to know that we all can make a difference."

While they have only been meeting for a short time, they are getting their feet wet by already planning a series of service projects to benefit the city throughout the coming months.

As the group grows, what the youths find most rewarding is the chance to see some of their ideas come to fruition.

"The ideas that we have can really happen when we are working together in this group," Orton said. "I have had some ideas from a long time ago that are tough to go at by myself, but now these ideas are happening, and it's really cool to see."

E-mail: [email protected]