Sponsored by Engage Estero, LEAD Estero develops “Leadership Summer Camp at FGCU” for High School Students

“Students helping Students,” says Jeffrey Stevens, Founder and President of LEAD Estero. That motivated him and his brother Matthew Stevens to start LEAD Estero. They founded this 501c3 entity to provide better educational opportunities for their fellow students in greater Estero and have recruited many classmates to assist in the effort.

One of these opportunities was a Leadership Summer Camp held at FGCU Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship this past July. This week-long program, with net proceeds from “Breaking Par at Grandezza,” is organized by the LEAD Estero students from Estero High School and funded by Engage Estero. It concluded on Friday with “Shark Tank” type student-team presentations to a select panel of judges and guests. These presentations showed the students’ creativity and ideas on a path to the marketplace. 

Captain Codty Pierce, The Calusa Waterkeeper

Matthew Ortiz, Fredly Osias, and Akshar Patel won the competition. Each was awarded $1,000 scholarships to any school of choice, funded by LEAD Estero.

Their business innovation is best described as “Rollin Grub” or “Grub on Wheels.”  “We wanted to have an App where you could find all the Food Trucks,” said Akshar Patel. Their goal was “if you wanted a special type of food, you could pull up the App and see where that truck was located.” 

“In our week-long planning sessions, we had to start over, over, and over again on how this idea might work, “ continues Patel, an Estero High School Junior. “It was very challenging.”  In addition to “challenging,” he uses “fun” and “innovative” as the three words to sum up his experience that week. Finally, with great enthusiasm, he adds, “My experience was phenomenal!”  The camp gave him confidence in his leadership abilities. He adds the most important thing I learned, “You have to keep pushing forward.” 

The Leadership Summer Camp at FGCU was accessible to the 18 participating students. LEAD Estero paid all costs from the proceeds of the 11th annual “Breaking Par at Grandezza” event held this past April. The principal sponsor, Engage Estero, selected this year’s benefactor as Estero High School’s student-led group, “LEAD Estero,” to plan, organize, and execute the event. Net proceeds from the two-day event were $106,000. That was an all-time high dollar figure for The Breaking Par event. Since 2013, Breaking Par has totaled $561,000 in net proceeds, all for better education in greater Estero and beyond. 

In 2024, “Breaking Par at Grandezza” is April 13th – 14th with its traditional Shotgun Scramble Tournament on Saturday and the well-attended Sunday evening “Gala”. Always at The Club at Grandezza, Engage Estero’s event benefactor will be LEAD Estero again. All event net proceeds are for advancing educational opportunities for students in greater Estero.

Finishing second in the leadership camp competition was a 2-man team of Matthew Stevens, Founder and Treasurer of LEAD Estero (pictured on the left), and Trey Ramsey (shown on the right.)  They each won $500 scholarships.

Their idea was called “Hidden Gems.”  They wanted to help unknown or small singing groups get more recognition. They also wanted to build an App highlighting where these “Hidden Gems” would play in upcoming weeks. 

Katie Kuieck, a Junior at Estero High School, initially didn’t want to do the camp. She thought it would interrupt her summer of taking a break from learning. Jeffrey Stevens and fellow student Kyra Ritter convinced her to try it. 

“After I attended it, I liked it.”  Katie adds, “The instructors asked us to consider issues and solutions. And I learned about public speaking, how to make slide shows and present it to an audience.”  She compliments a camp instructor who helped her learn about talking to the audience instead of just reading the slides.

Captain Codty Pierce, The Calusa Waterkeeper

Katie’s team project was called “Stick & Style.”  “We brainstormed many ideas but settled on removable stickers for clothes,” she continues. For example, these could be used by nurses who wear scrubs and like to brighten up their clothes for patients. With removable stickers, this is easy to do. 

Katie is taking a Marine Science course in the Cambridge program at Estero High. She tends to like math and science courses instead of history and English. However, she is the Historian for Student Government and LEAD Estero. She enjoys being a Historian because she loves photography and taking pictures. She has a photo class and is a member of the Photography Club. She is also on the Varsity sports teams for Soccer, Volleyball, and Beach Volleyball.

She worked at the Breaking Par Golf Outing in April 2023 and volunteered to hand out lunches on Broadway Street after Hurricane Ian. Katie felt it was “gratifying to see these people have a nice lunch and how happy they were despite all the problems created by Hurricane Ian.” 

Lead Estero members are busy helping students in other ways as well. Matthew Stevensfriend Cayl Sturtevant has Childhood Apraxia, a rare speech disorder that makes it difficult for children to speak. They understand language well and know what they want to say. However, they struggle with the complex, sequenced movements necessary for intelligible speech.

Tammy Sturtevant started the Estero Walk for Apraxia to help children with this disorder. Matthew Stevens participated in the walk, and Lead Estero donated $500 to the cause.

“Happen 365” is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization tackling childhood obesity — a pressing issue for 14.1 million American teenagers, according to their website. LEAD Estero members felt strong enough about this issue to donate $500 to that cause.

Plans are also in the works for LEAD Estero to participate in the “Light Up Estero” event. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Estero, it includeS performances featuring the Horizons Children’s Choir, food trucks, bounce houses, games, prizes, and much more, including a visit by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus via Estero Fire Rescue truck.

At the end of last school year, LEAD Estero also provided four $1,000 Scholarships. Two recipients attended the University of Florida, one to Florida Gulf Coast University, and one student attended Lafayette College.

The six LEAD Estero Scholarships now available for this year totaling $36,000 from “Breaking Par” are:

  • LEAD Estero / Founders Scholarship:  $20,000
  • LEAD Estero / Nicholas Batos Scholarship: $5,000
  • LEAD Estero / Topper Family Scholarship: $5,000
  • LEAD Estero / Dr. Sandra Kauanui Scholarship: $1,000
  • LEAD Estero / Trade School Scholarship: $2,500
  • LEAD Estero / Trade School Scholarship: $2,500

Also, with funds earned from the 2023 Breaking Par event, LEAD Estero initiated a $25,000 LEAD Estero & Engage Estero Endowment Fund at FGCU.

Jeffrey Stevens, Founder and President of LEAD Estero, says the Leadership Summer Camp was a significant effort for him. Going through this experience, “I learned to put together a well-planned camp as a whole.”  He feels the participants learned many skills, including taking risks and recognizing potential. “You have to be smart with what you do.”

Jeffrey Stevens is a senior at Estero High School, and one future career he is considering is becoming a Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologist. He spent a day with a local anesthesiologist to learn more about their work. Other members of LEAD Estero are doing similar intern-type events with local businesspeople, etc. The members are feeding off each other’s ideas and energy.

Matthew Stevens, a sophomore at Estero High School and brother of Jeffrey’s, says, “We want to keep this going after we graduate high school. We are trying to develop more core members. I’m working to have first-year students join us.”

“The camp helped me out, and I would like other people to do it.” continues Matthew Stevens. The camp staff got everybody involved and taught me about problem-solving, understanding finances, and presentation skills. He rates the camp a “9 out of 10.”

He wants to start promoting it earlier next year to get more attendees. To make that happen, LEAD Estero is planning and developing the theme for the 2024 “Breaking Par at Grandezza” event on April 13th -14th at The Club at Grandezza. So, mark your calendars.

Matthew Stevens says gleefully, “Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement with more information.


engage Estero is an all-volunteer, nonpolitical, nonprofit Community Engagement Association. We exist to inform citizens of significant community issues and encourage citizen engagement to impact the quality of life in greater Estero favorably.

  Be Informed,
Get Engaged,
and Make an Impact!