Nationally honored teen is a natural at making a difference in journalism and advocacy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Over the many years that FOX 4 has brought you stories of outstanding young people in our weekly Reaching 4 Excellence segment we’ve reported on a number of very accomplished teen journalists. Now we are profiling one that just could be the most acclaimed of all. She’s the STN national Student of the Year who has equally high achievements in helping young people avoid substance abuse.

In high school broadcast journalism she has been a jack of all trades and master of all.

“And I’ve always liked it,” said FOX 4 Young Achiever Jordan Elder. “When I was in 4th grade I was the first anchor of our elementary school news program. And I loved that people were able to get information from me.”

Through her four years at Park Hill High School where she was a star scholar and dance team member, as well, Jordan did literally everything in the Trojan TV News operation and did it extremely well. News anchoring (her favorite thing), weather, reporting and writing, shooting video and editing, producing PSAs and sports coverage.

“And I like that with journalism I get to tell other people’s stories,” said Jordan. “I can use the gifts that I have to share the gifts they have. And I think that’s really powerful.”

Off camera Jordan was in charge as a newscast producer and executive producer of the whole operation, the student leader of the school’s daily Trojan TV newscast streamed live on the Web.

“She’s not just a very talented person, she’s extremely talented and she’s a team player,” said Park Hill High School broadcast journalism teacher Justin Ford who also directs the Trojan TV News operation. “She’ll do whatever she can to help the team. If she has to produce that day, if we need someone to do weather at the green screen. She’s picked up technical directing on the computer by her senior year to do that. So she’s very well-rounded.”

Jordan’s impressive body of work earned her top honors in numerous local, state and national journalism competitions all through high school. As a senior she really raked it in, winning a regional student Emmy award for overall craft talent and earning the national Mike Wallace Memorial Scholarship for student journalists. And STN, the Student Television Network, named Jordan its national Student of the Year.

“I definitely love being recognized,” said Jordan, “because I do put a lot of work in but what I love most is the experience that comes with it and everything that I learn because every award I’ve won there’s been lessons with it.”

“She is a natural,” said Ford. “She is a natural and I think the sky’s the limit for what she can accomplish.” Jordan dazzled people with the same kind of early and strong abilities in school and community service leadership involvement as she did in broadcast journalism.

“I really wanted to lead this group because they do amazing things,” said Jordan of her long involvement in Youth With Vision. For the past two years she was co-chair of the advocacy organization made up of Northland middle and high school students that puts on the annual Mud Mania Volleyball Tournament as a fund-raising event for its campaigns on youth substance abuse prevention.

“The things we are doing here in Kansas City, Missouri are setting an example for the entire country,” said Jordan. “So what we do is we offer the youth perspective and the youth voice.” Jordan joined Youth With Vision when she was 13 and was fearless and confident from the start as she spoke at public events and went into offices of high-powered elected leaders and decision-makers to urge them to take action.

“I’m at the point now where I’m not afraid to walk up to a senator or a representative and say, ‘Hey, we don’t agree and you’re representing me so this is what I’d like you to do for me,’” said Jordan.

Youth With Vision has been recognized at state and national levels before and with Jordan and co-chair Conor Henry, a past FOX 4 Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achiever, at the helm this year it happened again. They and other YWV leaders went to Washington DC to accept the national Group Youth Advocates of the Year award from The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

“She is one of the best persons I’ve ever met in almost any aspect,” said Conor. She’s always honest. She’s hard working. She’s a great leader. She knows how to get everyone involved and get them excited about it.”

“And I love helping people and that’s why I love journalism and Youth With Vision both is because they both help people,” said Jordan. “And It’s going to make a difference and I like that.” Doing what comes naturally.

Jordan left for Arizona State University in Tempe a couple of weeks ago and has started classes already in the famed Walter Cronkite School of Journalism there. At ASU she joins fellow 2016 Park Hill High graduate and past FOX 4 Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achiever Jordan Evans who is there studying meteorology and broadcast journalism.

Jordan said she is planning trips this fall to Branson, MO to receive her regional Emmy award and to New York City for the Emmy gala at which she will accept the national Mike Wallace Memorial Scholarship for student journalists.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.