Burns Proves Spirit of Youth

Pictured above, from left to right: Award Nominator, Judge Vernon Daniels; Award Recipient, Thomas Burns; and NCJJ Chair, Cassy Rockwell.

Lincoln, NE — The Nebraska Coalition of Juvenile Justice honored Thomas Burns with the 2014 Spirit of Youth Award. Burns was recognized for using his experiences in the Juvenile Justice system to give back to youth involved in the system and to strive towards personal goals.

Burns became involved in the Juvenile Justice system as a teen due to involvement with drugs. He recalls his time in intensive treatment programs, drug court, and probation without bitterness. Judge Vernon Daniels, who nominated Thomas for the award, said in his nomination letter, “[Thomas] regularly tells how grateful he is to his treatment team, probation officer, attorney, and most especially his judge, the Honorable Lawrence Gendler. Thomas reports that they saved him… From their example, he has learned to never give up on others. He often tells me to give that [additional] chance.”

In March, Burns celebrated his fourth year of sobriety. He gives back at his local Chip Night events by celebrating sobriety birthdays and providing mentorship to his peers.

Since completing probation, Thomas has achieved a great deal. He overcame academic setbacks to graduate high school, received an academic transfer degree from Metropolitan Community College (MCC), and enrolled at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He hopes to pursue a degree in political science, attend law school, and become President of the United States.

While at MCC, Burns won a seat on the Student Advisory Council. His commitment to running a true campaign inspired others to run, resulting in the largest student voting turnout in MCC’s history. He has used these skills to serve on a state candidate’s campaign and wishes to continue exploring politics with an internship in Washington, D.C.

Burns was originally honored at the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association’s Annual Conference on May 8, but was unable to attend. The NCJJ celebrated him at their public coalition meeting in Lincoln on June 6, 2014.  Upon receiving the award and a $500 scholarship, Burns stated, “Thank you. I’m so grateful and honored to even be considered.”

Nominations are open for this year’s awards

Have you ever wished there was a way to thank a co-worker or your team for all the hard work they do? Or your boss for the leadership he/she provides? Nominate them for this year’s Service to Youth or Leadership Award. If selected, they will be recognized at the awards luncheon on May 8 during the annual conference. Nominate them today at www.njja.org/awards .

Closing Keynote – Brooks Gibbs

A video from the Friday NJJA Conference closing keynote speaker Brooks Gibbs interacting with NJJA Board member Trooper Keith Bell:


NJJA 2013 Annual Conference Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for our May 8-10, 2013 Annual Conference in Kearney. Register online here. Or print out the registration form and mail or fax in. Download the conference brochure and registration form here.

May 8 Pre-Conference Seminar

Eddie Slowikowski—world-class runner, internationally known speaker and author—will be our featured speaker at the May 8 Pre-Conference Seminar in Kearney. Cost of the seminar is included with your NJJA Conference fee; or attend the seminar only for $40.

Seating is limited; registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Full registration will be available by March 15, 2013. Download the flyer here.

NJJA 2013 Early Bird Conference Information

NJJA announces the line-up of speakers for our 2013 Conference on May 9-10 in Kearney. Full registration will be available by March 15, 2013. The Early Bird flyer can be downloaded here.

The deadline for scholarship and award nominations is April 1, 2013. Poster proposals are also due April 1, 2013.

Opportunities are available for sponsorships and exhibitors for the 2013 conference. If you are interested, please contact Monica Miles-Steffens, Executive Director, at 402-440-0373 or Monica@milesaheadconsult.com.

Save the date for the 2013 NJJA Conference

The 2013 NJJA Conference will be held May 8-10, 2013, at the Kearney Holiday Inn. Mark your calendars now!

Spirit of Youth Award

The Nebraska Crime Commission in collaboration with the Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice Youth Committee is now accepting nominations for their first annual Spirit of Youth Award.

The Spirit of Youth Award recognizes a young adult who has made great strides following involvement with the juvenile justice system; has overcome personal obstacles; and is making significant contributions to society.

Nomination form

Award Deadline Extended

The deadline for the NJJA Evelyn Labode Service to Youth Award, NJJA Leadership Award, and Scholarship Award has been extended to March 31st.  Please see the Awards section to access application and nomination forms.

NJJA 2012 Conference

Save the date for the May 2-4 NJJA Conference.  See our early bird flyer for information on Keynote Speakers, Award Nominations, and Call for Posters.

Download NJJA Conference Brochure here. Or you can signup for the conference online!