Five local youths got a quality lesson in patriotism, leadership and responsibility, thanks to the Houston County Farm Bureau.
Palestine students Kennedy Bishop, Elizabeth Conner, Samantha Noyola, Zackary Downs and Lacy Hammond all traveled to Tarleton State University last month, where they joined 353 other high school juniors and seniors from across the state to participate in the Texas Farm Bureau’s 50th annual Youth Leadership Conference (YLC).
“We are extremely proud to celebrate the golden anniversary of this important program, which aims to encourage and develop the future leaders of Texas,” Houston County Farm Bureau President Than Richburg said.
The purpose of the conference is to provide the students with a better understanding of their American heritage, the capitalistic free enterprise system and to inspire leadership development, according to Richburg.
During the weeklong event, patriotism, leadership and responsibility are emphasized, and students not only learn about but also discuss topics such as the free enterprise system, constitutional government, Americanism, leadership and goal setting, and are encouraged to meet with school and civic groups upon their return home to share what they’ve learned.
Tarleton State University President Dr. Dominic Dottavio welcomed students to campus at Monday’s opening session, along with special guest Chance Cerda, Tarleton’s student body president and an YLC alum. Afterwards, Vernie R. Glasson, executive director of Texas Farm Bureau, presented “Farm Bureau – Your Host.”
TFB Director of Public Policy Jim Sartwelle and Dr. Roger Hanagriff, Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications professor of Texas A&M University, each presented sessions on “Basics of Free Enterprise;” Ronald Trowbridge, former assistant dean at Hillsdale College in Michigan, presented two-part sessions on “The Constitution;” Lou Kennedy, a professional development consultant, led a session on “Professionalism in Life;” and Gary Evans, a registered investment advisor, offered advice on “Managing Your Money.”
Gary Montgomery, a motivational communicator and story-teller from Louisville, Ken., presented sessions on public speaking and Sandra Grant, a communications instructor at Midwestern State University assisted students with their group president speeches and hosted the entertaining Mr. YLC contest.
Special evening events included a presentation on Tuesday by Trent McKnight on “My Life Story…So Far!” and on Wednesday a music/devotional performance by Mark Swayze.
In addition, students participated in a program called “Congressional Insight,” which allowed them to simulate a Congressional office and election.
At Thursday evening’s banquet, Gary Montgomery shared his personal message of “Living with an I CAN PLAY attitude!”
Students who complete the Youth Leadership Conference and have given a speech on free enterprise to at least five groups will have taken the first step toward qualifying for the Free Enterprise Speech contest, which awards more than $27,500 in scholarships.
After qualifying, students compete at the district level and the winners advance to finals at the TFB annual meeting in San Antonio in December. In addition, all 2013 district speech contest winners will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. with TFB representatives.