In Honor of Willa Cather’s Birthday

song of the larkToday is Nebraskan author Willa Cather’s birthday. Born in 1873, Cather wrote a dozen novels and many collections of stories. Her most famous works were O’ Pioneers! and My Ántonia.  

Growing up in Nebraska during my teens, I had a preacher friend who was from her hometown. He revered her, frequently quoting her in Sunday morning sermons and making light of his affection for her, as well Red Cloud, Nebraska, where they were both from. It took me a while to understand why he loved her so much. Since I was 16, I’ve read about eight of her books, and fell in love with a short story collection I owned. I certainly know now why my friend was enamored with her: Willa Cather is awesome.

In The Song of the Lark, Cather wrote, “Success is never so interesting as struggle.” I’ve always found her down-to-earth ways enlightened, and that is why: She never forgot her roots, her people, and her land.

In my own attempts at writing, I’ve struggled with finding a voice that reflects a true sense of purpose and roots for me. Maybe that’s because my roots are so muddled, and because I’ve always sensed the people around me shared that predicament. Whatever the reason, settling into my voice in its uncertainties and inabilities has been part of the gift Willa challenged to me when I was young. It was about being true to oneself and what they understood of the world.

In that same book, The Song of the Lark, Willa wrote, “If you love the good thing vitally, enough to give up for it all that one must give up, then you must hate the cheap thing just as hard. I tell you, there is such a thing as creative hate! A contempt that drives you through fire, makes you risk everything and lose everything, makes you a long sight better than you ever knew you could be.”

Not only was she connected to the land and the people like the roots of the deepest bluestem grasses, she was fully aware of who she was and engaged within herself! This miraculous feat, which seemed so smothered through the late Victorian age where she emerged from, seems spectacular to me.

So, I want to thank Willa Cather for showing me who I can be, out loud for everyone to see. Thank you, and happy birthday.

A Unique Introduction to Youth Engagement by Adam Fletcher

A Unique Introduction to Youth Engagement by Adam Fletcher


Now available from Adam Fletcher, A Unique Introduction to Youth Engagement is a powerful guide to what youth engagement is, how it happens, and much more.

Fletcher dispels the myth that youth engagement is only about certain youth doing certain things. Instead, in his comprehensive understanding, its about the lives of all children and youth everyday. 

And it is absolutely FREE.





Ending Discrimination Against Young People by Adam Fletcher

SELL SHEET for Ending Discrimination Against Young People


In Fall 2013, Adam Fletcher published a new book exploring the ways children and youth are treated throughout society. Ending Discrimination Against Young People is available on and from select distributors.

Most books about young people begin with the idea that children and youth are less than adults, and then proceed to offer various techniques to make them grow up. In his analysis, Fletcher begins instead by asking, “Who are young people today, and what do they truly face?” What follows from that place is a new understanding of the way the world works today, and powerful ideas that can change homes, schools, government, and businesses right now.


  • Name: Ending Discrimination Against Young People
  • Author: Adam Fletcher
  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (August 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492183822
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492183822
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.5 inches

Available at

Half sheet EDAYP

Press Kit

Review Quotes

“Having been an educator and working with youth for over 20 years, I have always considered myself an advocate for youth. This book really opened my eyes as to how deep rooted this discrimination is and how most of us don’t even give it a second thought. Anyone working with young people should absolutely read this book. It is an essential understanding for the change we wish to see in our education system today.”

—Donna Mikkelsen, founder of The Garden Road School, Crompond, NY

“Adam Fletcher provides an expert look at the revolutionary idea that youth endure, and are harmed by, pervasive age discrimination and supplies supportive advice on how young people and their adult allies can work against it in their daily lives. His perspective as an activist/youth worker/educator (pick whichever one you think is best), a father, and a former young person inform this excellent addition to the youth rights library.”

—Alex Koroknay-Palicz, former executive director of the National Youth Rights Association, Takoma Park, MD

“I loved it. The departure from the typical academic perspective combined with the invested wisdom brings it together well.”

— Jabreel Chisley, 18 year old virtual schooled student and community organizer, Institute for Democratic Education in America, Euclid, OH

“After reading this book, I have to believe youth discrimination is a part of everyone’s life. When you’re 20, you are an adult but society refuses to recognize you as one. That’s not fair, and its making our priorities messed up. This book makes me know I can do something about that!”

—Emily Richardson, young person, Omaha, NE

“This book was really eye-opening and left me with a lot to think about. Now that I understand what adultism is, I can see examples of it in my life and the world around me. I want to be a different kind of parent who gives my kids more appropriate choices.”

—Julian Apilado Lilienthal, mother of two, Deming, NM

“[Fletcher’s] fluid writing makes complicated realities easy to see. Now, I understand the role I have as a parent in youth discrimination. I’ll be a better parent and teacher for my daughters because of this book.”

Elizabeth Ahlstrom, homeschooling mother of four, Caroline, Alberta, Canada

Recent Press


Please send your review, blog, newsletter, or other press related to ENDING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST YOUNG PEOPLE to be listed here using this page. Thanks!


More Information

For more information, email or call (360) 489-9680. Order your copy.


North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center

The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center works statewide to develop, promote and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians.


In 2011, the Center wanted a nationally-respected, research-driven motivating keynote speaker focused on youth engagement to address their annual gathering called the Rural Partners Forum, with 750+ attendees from economic, academic, social, and political backgrounds. They also needed a facilitator to drive a conversation focused on youth engagement for the state’s mayors gathered at the forum.

The following year, the Center sought to publish a chapter about youth engagement for a forthcoming handbook they were creating for a statewide initiative.


After crafting a dynamic address for the forum and leading the mayor’s gathering effectively, Adam was contracted to draft a knowledge-sharing, skill-building publication for the Center called the New Generation Initiative Youth and Young Adult Engagement Guide. After providing more than 100+ pages of original content in less than three weeks, the Center then contracted with Adam to facilitate a statewide training workshop focused on the Guide’s contents in November 2012.

By providing motivational speeches, facilitation, technical assistance and professional development, Adam’s work drove a successful program launch and influenced ongoing action in North Carolina.




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Catalyst Miami

In 2011, Adam facilitated an Imagine Miami workshop on meaningful youth involvement. More than 150 nonprofit and community leaders participated in a seven-hour seminar focused on practically, purposefully engaging diverse youth in changing communities. The event was hosted by Catalyst Miami, formerly the Human Services Coalition of Miami/Dade County, with sponsorship from the Children’s Trust of Miami, SoundOut and The Freechild Project.

After that, Adam served as a consultant and trainer for the SoundOut Institute operated by Catalyst Miami from 2011-2014. He led the adaptation of the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum, a 250-page, 26-session, project-driven, hands-on student action curriculum, facilitated train-the-trainer activities for staff, and provided ongoing technical assistance for the program staff. In addition to training facilitators and adult allies, Adam worked with Catalyst Miami staff and school partners focused on successfully infusing student voice in Miami schools.

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Washington OSPI SIPP

Adam partnered with the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction School Improvement Planning Program in Olympia to provide a Meaningful Student Involvement Initiative from 2003-05. Partners also included Yakima Public Schools and the Washington State University Center for Bridging the Digital Divide.

Through this project Adam…

  • Coordinated a statewide pilot project in 45 elementary, middle, and senior high schools in 12 districts. 
  • Solely focused on meaningful student involvement in federally-mandated school improvement. 
  • Frameworks for meaningful student involvement adapted by U.S. Department of Education. 

Adam provided ongoing training and technical assistance to school improvement coaches and lead improvement coaches in 75+ schools across Washington State. The project included the development of a chapter in the School Improvement Planning Process Guide published by OSPI. 

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SoundOut provides training, tools, and technical assistance to schools focused on Meaningful Student Involvement. Adam developed the program and has promoted it nationally and internationally since 2002. Today, it is a resource to students and educators around the world. Through SoundOut, Adam has provided professional development and training for dozens of K-12 school across the US. Continuing to work with a variety of clients focused on engaging students as partners in school reform, he has written several publications for SoundOut, including the Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change and the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum.

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The Freechild Project

Working with a group of youth and youth advocates across the nation, Adam assumed responsibility for creating and maintaining The Freechild Project and its accompanying website since September, 2001. 

Through Freechild, Adam has partnered with hundreds of organizations in twelve countries and 43 states focused on engaging young people in social change. The website reaches hundreds of thousands of users around the world every year, and the publications I’ve written for it have been downloaded more than a million times. As of September 2017, The Freechild Project Facebook group has more than 3,000 members.

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