The Chickasaw Nation believes that setting up youth for roles as leaders must start at an early age. Since December 1988, the Chickasaw Youth Clubs' after-school and summer programs in Sulphur and Tishomingo have helped kids between the ages of 5 and 17 build a solid foundation of academic success, cultural literacy and life skills. To enroll, each student must meet the age requirements and be either a Chickasaw citizen or the child of an employee of the Chickasaw Nation. Applications are accepted from July 1 to August 1 for the after-school program and April 1-30 for the summer program. Every year at the Chickasaw Nation's Annual Meeting & Festival, girls and young women from across the state compete to be recognized as Chickasaw royalty. The Chickasaw Princess Program judges contestants on poise, traditional dress, talent, a question-and-answer session and an interview. Over the course of the following year, the crowned princesses serve as cultural ambassadors for the Chickasaw Nation, making appearances at events around the country. Each reigning princess also participates in a "homeland trip" to Tupelo, Miss., to connect with the ancestral lands of the Chickasaw people. The princesses learn to be role models for younger girls and bearers of the Chickasaw culture. The Chokka' Kilimpi' Recruitment and Retention Program is an initiative designed to aid Chickasaw students attending college outside the Nation's boundaries. Located at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Community College, Chokka' Kilimpi' provides academic assistance, preparation for potential employment with the Nation and a strong network of cultural bonds in a "home away from home" environment. With classes like cultural painting instruction and events including movies and bowling, the centers provide opportunities to put aside the stress of college life and cultivate new relationships. To learn more about programs for budding young leaders, visit www.Chickasaw.net.