Rotary has been involved in youth exchange for a long time. However, prior to 1972, any exchange program was essentially a District to District exchange. Multi-district organizations involved in youth exchange were rare. In the late sixties and very early seventies two Rotary districts, 629 and 644, (6290 and 6440 today) cooperated in a semi-joint program. These districts would involve yet another district, 656, in sharing students and opportunities from time to time. Eventually the leadership in those districts saw the need for a multi-district youth exchange program. So, in February of 1972, eight District Governors from the Great Lakes area met and formed a large multi-district youth exchange program. They called the new organization Central States Rotary Youth Exchange. From the original eight Rotary Districts, the program has grown to include seventeen Districts in the Great Lakes area that include the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and the southern part of Ontario, Canada. Over 825 Rotary clubs are represented by the Central States Youth Exchange program.
The outbound program which had always been run by the districts was formally separated in 2008 under the name of Central States Outbound Exchanges, LLC(CSROBE)as a wholly owned subsidiary of CSRYE.
The first chairman of the new program and one of its founding fathers was Mr. Lawrence Meyering (Laurie). Laurie held the chairmanship from 1972-1976. Upon his retirement, Mr. Bob Shoemaker became the chairman and continued the trend of outstanding leadership in Central States for the next twelve years (1976-1988). In 1988, Vice-chairman and fellow founding father, Bob Brickman took over the chairmanship. Mr. Brickman continued as Chairman until 1992 when Vice Chairman, Bob Hosch took over the Chairmanship. Bob continued as Chairman until July 1, 1998. Since 1998, many more dedicated individual have served tirelessly to make Central States a great success.
The years the success of this program is the result of the quality of leadership in Central States and the supreme dedication of the District Chairmen, Correspondents, and District Governors, within the U.S., Canada and overseas. They are united in their efforts to provide students with the most memorable year of their lives, hoping one day that this experience may contribute to the ultimate goal of world understanding and peace.