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August 01, 2012   Email to Friend 

Alabama Students Learn Valuable Lessons At Youth Leadership Conference
Melissa Martin

Student participants discuss the weekend agenda with chaperons during the opening session of the Youth Leadership Conference at the 4-H Center in Columbiana Friday, June 22. An annual event, the conference strengthens students’ leadership skills and educates them on agricultural issues. From left are State Young Farmers Committee Vice Chairman Clint McElmoyl of DeKalb County; Heather Waterhouse, Marshall County; Jovita Perez, Marshall County; Haley Gothard, Bibb County; Keyannah Mays, Bibb County; State Young Farmers Committee member Scott Poague of Elmore County; and Ryan Wood, Coffee County.
Nearly 140 high school students strengthened their leadership skills during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual Youth Leadership Conference at the 4-H Center in Columbiana June 22-24.

The conference seeks to develop the students as leaders in their chosen careers while helping them better understand Alabama agriculture.

During the three-day event, 136 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from 25 counties around the state participated in character-building activities and interactive workshops.

Federation Young Farmers Division Director Brandon Moore said the annual conference is a great way to bring the next generation of Alabama’s leaders together and teach them about the role of agriculture in the state and nation.

“Our focus is to teach them to recognize the responsibilities they have to develop into effective leaders so they can be prepared to give back to their communities, schools and churches,” said Moore, who organizes the annual conference.

According to Moore, the role of the conference is crucial to developing strong leaders, not only for the Federation, but for other industry and trade organizations around the globe.

“The Youth Leadership Conference teaches delegates that regardless of which career path they choose, there are industry organizations that depend on members who have developed skills they need to get involved and make a difference,” said Moore.

State Young Farmers Committee member Scott Poague, who served as a chaperon during the conference, echoed Moore’s remarks, adding that the event is beneficial in establishing a voice for farmers.

“In developing future leaders for this organization, it’s very important for counties to send young people to this conference. I think they take away a lot from the event,” said Poague. “It exposes them to different areas of agriculture they might not otherwise think about, while encouraging them to become service-minded leaders in whatever field they choose.”

Poague also emphasized how important it is to educate high school students about agriculture

“These students are going to be the future leaders of our state and this organization,” he said. “They are going to be voting age soon, and they need to be educated about agriculture in order to make wise decisions regarding the food they eat and their views toward farming.”

While organizers and conference chaperons recognize the importance of the event, students enjoy the amenities of the 4-H Center and the ability to share their interests with peers from across the state.

Jovita Perez, a student from Asbury High School in Marshall County, said her favorite part of the conference was meeting students from across the state who share similar interests.

“We’re all here to learn,” said Perez. “And if we can have fun together and make new friends in the process, what could be better?

For more information about the program, visit AlfaYoungFarmers.org.


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