WIESBADEN, Germany - One military youth took the next step in a competition to see who the best military youth is in the Department of Defense, June 23.

Elizabeth Jacobson, a member of the Ramstein Air Base Youth Center, took the title of Overseas Military Youth of the Year at the competition, held here at the Community Activity Center.

The Military Youth of the Year competition is a component of the National Youth of the Year program, held by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America each year. It recognizes a club member who served on a military installation, according to the Boys and Girls Club website.

"I consider myself lucky, because I've been a part of Boys and Girls Club-affiliated youth centers my whole life," Jacobson said. "Who I am today stems from my time with the youth center."

Jacobson faced off against Maya-Olivia Pugh, from the Asia region, for the overseas title, and was presented her award by Col. Todd J. Fish, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, and Ed Brown, Director of Organizational Development with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

"I'm inspired by the two young ladies I just heard speak," Fish said. "You are our future. A lot of people will let opportunity pass them by, but I don't get that feeling from you two."

Former Military Youth of the Year Winners Natalia Lynch, herself a USAG Wiesbaden community member, and RianSimone Harris both emceed the event and spoke at the event about their time as Military Youth of the Years.

"This youth of the year journey, for me, has been such a phenomenal ride," Harris, the 2015 winner, said. "I have grown and gained so much confidence this year."

Lynch emphasized why it's important to hold the Military Youth of the Year competition and recognize military youth.

"Though they don't wear a uniform, military youth serve too," Lynch said.

She also had some advice for Jacobson, as she goes on into the competition.

"Your experiences will stay with you," she said. "I am proud to be a military youth and a military alumni."

Jacobson, who said it feels amazing to have won, hopes to use her win to help military youth everywhere.

"It's great to be able to get so far in the journey and have my voice be heard," Jacobson said. "Now I can use that voice to advocate for our military youth."

As to why she won, and why she's doing well in the competition, she gives credit for that to others.
"I would attribute my success to my youth center," Jacobson said. "Everything I do, I am supported by the youth center."