Youth Appreciation

In November the Optimist Clubs will recognize local youth for their efforts in community service work. Youth Appreciation Week (YAW) is the perfect opportunity for clubs to make a difference in their community and demonstrate the Optimists' commitment to young people.  During the month of November, the St. Cloud Optimists seek nominations for outstanding youth from various local youth service organizations. These nominees are invited to a Youth Appreciation Breakfast and given a plaque for their efforts. This year's breakfast will be at the Boy Scout Offices on Pinecone Rd. Sartell at 7:00 a.m. 

Essay Contest

Topic: "Is Optimism the Key to Achieving the Dreams You iMagine?"
When:The deadline to submit an essay is  January 31, 2020
Who: Youth under the age of 19 as of October 1, 2019 can participate. Student must NOT be enrolled as a degree seeking student of a post secondary institution.
How To Enter: Contact your local Optimist Club if a student is interested.
The Essay contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding the world in which they live. The approach can encompass a young person’s personal experience, the experience of their country or a more historical perspective.  In addition to developing skills for written expression, participants also have the opportunity to win a college scholarship. The District essay winner will receive a $2,500 scholarship.  An Essay Breakfast awarding our local winners will be in March. 

Speak Up

In February the 5th and 6th graders in St.Cloud's District 742 are asked to participate in a Speak Up program sponsored by the local Optimist Clubs.  The topic is chosen by the teacher in each classroom.  Each student prepares a speech no more than 2-3 minutes in length.  Each grade selects the best three speakers from that grade.  These selected students then gather to present their speeches to parents and friends one evening at a Junior High Auditorium.  From each grade level, judges select 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.  All students presenting are given either a gold, silver, or bronze medal for their efforts.

Oratorical Contest

 Beginning in 1928, the Oratorical Contest has become the longest-running program of Optimist International. The contest is designed for young people to gain experience in public speaking and provide them with an opportunity to compete for multiple college scholarships with a pre-assigned topic. District Scholarships: First Place: $2,500 • Second Place:$2,500 with a chance to win up to $22,500 at the World Championships level.

Topic:"Just iMagine a World without Boundaries"

When:  Local contest details and date will be announced in February.  Contest will be on March 14.

Who Can Participate: Youth under the age of 19 as of October 1, 2019 and are educated in the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean. Student must NOT be enrolled as a degree seeking student of a post secondary institution.

How To Enter: Interested students submit a speech on the preassigned topic to their local Optimist Club. For further information contact Dottie Seamans at

Two Scholarships of $2,500 are awarded at the District level.  

Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Topic: "Just iMagine a World Without Boundaries

When: Contest will be held in March
Who: Open to students through grade 12 with at least a 40-decibel hearing loss that are educated in the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean. Students with a permanent correction should contact the Optimist International Oratorical Contest. An audiogram within 24 months of the contest is required.
How To Enter: Interested students submit a speech on the preassigned topic to their local Optimist Club. The Central Mn Area CCDHH contest will be held on March 18. Please contact Ginny Bisek at 320-253-1462 or (use CCDHH on subject line) if you are interested in participating.  Winners at the local club level receive medals.   Scholarships of $2,500 are awarded at the District level. The Optimist CCDHH contest gives youngsters the chance to speak to the world through signing or voice.

Junior World Golf Tournament

The Optimist International Junior Golf Championships (OIJGC) is one of the largest and most prestigious events for junior golfers ages 10-18. Each year over 5,000 young people from the United States and Canada compete in qualifying tournaments; there are over 650 players from 25 countries that participate in the championship event.  This year's Championships are in July and August at a PGA National Resort in Florida.
Players compete in the 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18 age divisions. (Ages are determined by the age of the participant on the last day of the tournament. 14-15-year olds may play up in the 16-18 age division. 18-year olds must not have started college.) Players pre qualify at the local tournament in early June.  For Further Questions contact Bill Pennings 320-255-9283.

Childhood Cancer Campaign

Optimist Clubs are encouraged to participate in this program by building awareness of the disease, providing assistance for children and their families, and supporting research to find a cure.
Since 2000, the Optimist International Board of Directors established CCC as the organization's primary focus program.. The St. Cloud Optimist have teamed up with CentraCare in sponsoring a summer picnic for children and families receiving cancer treatment at the CentraCare Plaza in St. Cloud. The Club also contributes to Children's Cancer Research

Respect for Law Awards

Awards presented on August 7th at the Boy Scout Offices in Sartell. Local citizens and officers who provide positive images or programs to youth regarding respect for law are given this award.  This program inspires a healthy admiration for local law enforcement officials among young people.

Friend of Youth Awards

Awards will be presented on August 7th to individuals and businesses in our community who have made outstanding contributions to youth in our area. Contact Don Berger for an application if you want to nominate an individual you feel is worthy of this award. Call Don Berger at 320-248-0632

Achievement in Education Awards

Awards will be presented on August 14th to educators and community individuals who have made outstanding contributions in educating youth in our area.  Contact Don Berger for an application if you want to nominate an individual you feel is worthy of this award.  Call Don Berger at 320-248-0632