Wouldn’t it be great if David Battey’s ’85 senior thesis were on-line?

David Battey almost wrote an undergraduate thesis on agricultural policy.

The world is probably a better place because he didn’t.

Despite some dubious professors, Battey and four fellow political economy majors at Williams College in Massachusetts delved into the subject of youth service during the spring of 1985.

The thesis inspired Battey to create the Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City and, later, of America.

The Kansas City chapter is completing its 20th summer. Battey’s Youth Volunteer Corps can also be found in 22 states and three Canadian cities. About 15,000 youth spent 216,000 hours volunteering with the program last year.

The Corps, a nonprofit organization based in Roeland Park, Kan., has become more than a career for Battey.

“I always look upon my job as really more of a mission in life,” said the Mission Hills native who now lives in Fairway.

Interesting stuff. Who were those “dubious professors?”

Battey and his classmates’ thesis concluded that the government should do more to promote voluntarism in youth. They said a “bottoms-up” approach, or supporting grassroots programs, was better than a bureaucracy. Their project earned an A-minus.

Battey earned Williams College’s bicentennial medal in 2000 for putting into practice what he envisioned years ago.

During the Corps’ fledgling stages, he said he encountered many people who were skeptical that young people would shoulder time-consuming jobs for no pay. Then, even school-organized community service was unusual.

“The landscape of service has changed a lot — a lot,” Battey said. “It’s been great to see it.”

And what will students in POLI-EC be writing about this year?

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