Two days of learning at the Alfa Youth Leadership Conference should help launch a lifetime of leadership success for 119 ninth- and 10th-graders.
Held in Columbiana at the Alabama 4-H Center Sept. 30-Oct. 1, the annual conference was sponsored by the Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation and county Federations.
“These students aren’t the leaders of tomorrow; they’re the leaders of today,” said Wiley Bailey, the Federation’s Area 2 Organization director who helped coordinate the conference. “It’s important to energize young leaders and get them involved in agriculture at an early age so they can advocate for the industry and serve their communities.”
Attendees hailed from 49 counties and worked to pinpoint potential, develop talents and discover a passion for service.
The agenda included team-building activities at the 4-H Center’s challenge course; ag advocacy training with former National FFA officer Brennan Costello; high-energy leadership development with nationally renowned speaker Kelly Barnes; a political overview with Alabama Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster; and an interactive personal growth workshop with leadership consultant Nicole Pinkham.
Bailey, also a former National FFA officer, said the network students formed will last through college and into their careers. That includes students like Alana Barnes from Crenshaw County, who created connections with fellow leaders from across the state.
“I wanted to gain more leadership skills and learn how to encourage others to become leaders, too,” said Barnes, a ninth grader at Brantley High School.
During the conference, students amplified their patriotic pride during a flag-raising presentation with re-enactors from the American Village in Montevallo and snacked on s’mores during a fireside cookout.