Sale Lions Club is encouraging schools to begin thinking about next year’s Lions Youth of the Year competition.

The competition tests young people aged between 16 and 18 on public speaking, civic engagement and leadership.

Winners from local rounds go onto regional, district, state and national finals, and the national winner receives $1000 and a $4000 overseas trip.

Lions’ Roger Lurz said students should get involved early so they could plan for next year.

Sale’s winner Abbey Walsh, a year 11 student from Catholic College Sale, competed at the district round in Trafalgar and said it was rewarding.

“It was really great to meet some of the other competitors from around Gippsland – I made a few new friends,”she said. “It improves your skills so much and it looks really good if you are applying for a scholarship at uni because it’s not a school-based thing, it’s a community-based thing.”

Runner-up Marlow Fraser, from Maffra Secondary College, said it was all about getting out of your comfort zone.

“It can be as much as going to your local footy club and helping out,” he said.

It doesn’t have to be anything huge; it’s making that involvement (in the community).”

If you are interested in reading more or participating, visit the Lions Youth of the Year website.