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June 20, 2008   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
June 20, 2008

Attorney General Troy King, right, visits with students during the Alabama Farmers Federation's Youth Leadership Conference. From left are Emily Nestor of Montgomery County, Andrea Grace Pulaski of Morgan County, Hannah Wilson of Greene County and King.
COLUMBIANA, Ala., June 20 -- Alabama Attorney General Troy King challenged high school students from across the state to "realize their power and responsibility" as future leaders during the opening session of the Alabama Farmers Federation's Youth Leadership Conference June 20 in Columbiana.

"You've got a responsibility to our state to become leaders," King told the group of 100 teenagers gathered for the weekend at the Alabama 4-H Center. "Don't believe it when people tell you, 'You can't succeed.' You can succeed by doing the right thing."

King, who appealed to the group as a father whose children will grow up in a state led by the teens' generation, said the most important lesson he could share with young people is one he learned while working for former Gov. Fob James.

"There are some fights worth fighting, even if you are going to lose," King said. "Being a leader doesn't mean doing what is easy. It means standing up and doing the right thing."

The three-day conference includes workshops, teamwork activities, and seminars on agriculture and government. Featured speakers included State Treasurer Kay Ivey, who spoke to the young leaders about networking and consensus building.

The annual conference is sponsored by the Federation's Young Farmers Division. Brandon Moore, director of the program, said the event encourages up-and-coming leaders to get involved in associations and organizations that share their beliefs.

"Our message is that, regardless of what career path you choose, there are trade and industry associations that rely on well-spoken leaders to take the helm and influence their industry and government to bring about positive change," Moore said.

The conference is geared toward high school sophomores and juniors. Students from 28 counties were selected by their county Young Farmers committees to attend this year's event based on previous academic and extracurricular achievements. Moore said recent Youth Leadership Conference graduates have gone on to leadership roles in collegiate clubs, and several returned to the conference this year as chaperons and presenters.

Highlighting the conference agenda was a series of workshops that gave students an opportunity to hone their skills through hands-on activities. A ropes-style obstacle course forced the attendees to rely on one another to achieve goals, while "Operation Midas" gave the students a chance to develop a marketing plan for a new value-added product. Students also learned about common misconceptions in agriculture, and they attended seminars conducted by Alabama's state FFA officers and the Auburn University College of Agriculture.

The Young Farmers program is aimed at helping farmers and other agricultural professionals ages 17-35 achieve success in their businesses and to become leaders in their communities and the Farmers Federation. For more information, visit www.alfayoungfarmers.com.

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