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Students Attend Youth Leadership Conference

Chris Stephenson, P. J. Lewis, Kadie Richburg, Victoria Martin, Monica Davila and (front) Micheala Gilpin recently represented Houston County at the 51st annual Texas Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Conference in Stephenville.  The Houston County Farm Bureau sponsored the six students. (Courtesy Photo)Chris Stephenson, P. J. Lewis, Kadie Richburg, Victoria Martin, Monica Davila and (front) Micheala Gilpin recently represented Houston County at the 51st annual Texas Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Conference in Stephenville. The Houston County Farm Bureau sponsored the six students. (Courtesy Photo)

STEPHENVILLE - Chris Stephenson, P. J. Lewis, Kadie Richburg, Victoria Martin, Monica Davila and Micheala Gilpin, all sponsored by the Houston County Farm Bureau, attended the Texas Farm Bureau's 51st annual Youth Leadership Conference (YLC) at Tarleton State University, June 16-20. They joined more than 305 high school juniors and seniors from over 120 counties across the state.

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, said Than Richburg, president of the Houston County Farm Bureau.

During the weeklong event, three areas are emphasized: Patriotism, Leadership and Responsibility. Students discuss topics on the free enterprise system, the Constitution, money management, leadership and goal setting, and are encouraged to meet with school and civic groups upon their return home to share what they've learned.

"We are extremely proud to sponsor area students to attend this important program, which aims to encourage and develop the future leaders of Texas," Richburg said.

Tarleton State University President Dr. Dominic Dottavio welcomed students to campus and Vernie R. Glasson, executive director of Texas Farm Bureau, presented "Farm Bureau – Your Host" at Monday's opening session.

Dr. Ed Rister, Agricultural Economics and Entrepreneurship professor of Texas A&M University, presented sessions on "Basics of Free Enterprise," Ronald Trowbridge, former assistant dean at Hillsdale College in Michigan, presented 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, KY presented sessions on "Public Speaking." Special evening events included a presentation on Tuesday by Damian Mason on "Humor for the Heart of Youth Leadership Conference: a hilarious look at the future of America of America and Agriculture" and on Wednesday a music/devotional performance by Mark Swayze.

In addition, students participated on Thursday 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 $19,000 in scholarships.

After qualifying, students compete at the district level and the winners advance to finals at the TFB Annual Meeting in Corpus Christi in December.

The six state finalists will receive additional scholarships and an expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. with TFB representatives in the summer of 2015.