Greetings Fellow Rotarians!
I write these words to you in the afterglow of our District 6250 Virtual Conference.  This conference, like our year together, has been different in many ways.  The conference was a week long.  We had inspirational presentations from our entire Rotary International President Line.  We had evening sessions that dived deep into our Seven Areas of Focus, our Foundation, our Membership and Public Image teams (working together!) , and our Youth Programs.  The virtual element allowed Rotarians to dip in and out of the agenda as our busy active lifestyles allowed.  The Conference team aimed to educate, inspire and engage.  I am proud of what was presented to the District, and I hope that you found the conference met our goals.
During the week, we had over 100 District Rotarians join each evening for our deep dives.  These are numbers not normally seen during a District Assembly, and it speaks to the deep desire of Rotarians to engage into what drives their passions.  The Youth Program night on Monday saw some of our largest turnout.  My thanks to our Youth Programs Chair Laura Lee and her Youth Program leaders for the great evening and passion.
The people who know me best – my family and the Rotarians of the La Crosse area – know that my passion for Rotary is boundless.  My family also knows that I don’t expect them to get involved in Rotary the way I have.  It’s a choice that is up to them.  But I must admit, I can’t help smiling when I see them making the right choice. 😊
This past year has had a large impact on my family.  Both my wife and my youngest daughter have had their eyes open to the great work done by Rotary in our communities and in our world.  My wife was impacted deeply by our time at the International Assembly and Zone gatherings that occurred late in 2020 and early 2021 before our world shut down due to COVID.  My youngest daughter was so moved by seeing Rotary programs that involved past exchange students and how it changed their lives that she was moved to join me in my plans to travel to the International Conference in Taipei.  We also know how that ended… but I’d bet that she will join me at our next opportunity.  But she will be joining me at the Virtual Youth Exchange Pre-convention in June!
If my passion for Rotary is boundless… there is an entirely next level for my passion for our Youth Programs.  I have been blessed to be involved with virtually all aspects of Youth Service within our District over the past decade.  Take Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) as one example.  I have seen firsthand how it transforms young people into more confident, focused individuals with a better understanding of the world around them.
Everywhere I go around the Rotary world, I meet people of all ages whose lives have been changed by our youth programs.  They tell me how, five or 15 or 25 years ago, Rotary Youth Exchange taught them a new language or introduced them to a new culture.  Their eyes light up when they talk about their Interact Clubs… and how membership in Rotaract first ignited their passion for giving back to the community.
Rotary’s programs for young leaders extend our ideals of service, friendship, and leadership development beyond the doors of our clubs to hundreds of thousands of young people in most years.  This year saw many of those programs frozen or heavily impacted.  But you can feel the energy winding up in these programs as they look forward to spring forward with the reopening of our world.  When we serve with and for these young people – as sponsors, project partners, and mentors, it brings out the best in us, and it brings out the best in Rotary.
May is Youth Services Month, and there are many ways your Rotary club can celebrate.  Check in with your Interact Club and make sure they are ready to jump at the opportunities that reopening our schools will present.  Consider a Rotaract Club – either University or Community based – to engage the young adults in your community to take action, become leaders, and gain a global perspective.  Team up with your Interact and Rotaract Clubs for a service project.  Get your club ready to welcome Youth Exchange Students (Long and Short Term) back into our communities, clubs and lives. 
This month, be open to the opportunities that young leaders in our communities by engaging them, mentoring them, and working side by side with them on meaningful projects.  It’s an investment in their future and in the world they will live in after we’re gone.  And it’s work that will forever enrich their lives… and our own.
Be well and healthy!
Bill Pritchard
6250 District Governor 2020-2021