YOUTH LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE EDUCATES THROUGH FUN AND GAMES
July 03, 2014
Sweltering, mid-summer heat couldn’t stop teenagers across the state from gathering at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana for the Alabama Farmers Federation 2014 Youth Leadership Conference June 30-July 2.
“This conference is a great opportunity to help youth in rural Alabama develop leadership and communication skills,” said Young Farmers Division Director Jennifer Himburg. “These fundamental skills will enable them to better serve their communities and schools in the future. Each year students leave not only with new knowledge and insight, but also with new friendships.”
Ninety-five teenagers got the chance to learn about leadership qualities, the importance of teamwork and Alabama agriculture. A two-hour scavenger hunt throughout the camp grounds taught the students about the Alabama Farmers Federation and agriculture across the state, while group work, relay races and ropes courses taught the 10 teams led by the State Young Farmers Committee the value of teamwork.
“I’ve learned that leadership isn’t just an officer position,” said Auburn High School senior Bubba Sorenson. “The conference taught me that I need to include the younger kids of our FFA chapter in leadership roles so they can step into our shoes one day and carry on the tradition we’ve started.”
The students heard two motivational speakers while at the conference. State Treasurer Young Boozer talked to the students about his leadership role in the state and what it took to get there. He shared what he considered to be the most important aspect of leadership—carrying out a call to action. Janice Johnson spoke to the students about the value of good choices by sharing how her bad choices resulted in a five-year prison sentence.
“Many things have changed about this conference throughout the years,” Himburg said. “Janice isn’t one of them. She has spoken to our kids for many years, and we hope she will continue to because she has always had the largest impact.”
The long, activity-filled days unwinded with devotionals and moments of self-reflection led by Auburn University’s Young Farmers, who served as chaperones for the conference. This time offered the high school students a chance to ask questions about college, how to get involved on the collegiate level and about managing schoolwork and a farm.
”This has brought me out of my shell,” said Danville High School junior Alex Tanner. “My FFA advisor encouraged me to attend two years ago so I could be equipped with leadership skills to bring back to our chapter’s officer team. Making new friends has been important for me not only because it’s helped me become more assertive, but because I’ve been able to learn some of their leadership skills. That’s something I can take with me for the rest of my life.”