With a little help and guidance, people of all ages can become leaders.
Thanks to an organization called the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), students can gain leadership skills before they even finish high school. FCCLA is a nonprofit national organization for middle and high school students. With family as its central focus, FCCLA aims to promote leadership development in young people across America through career exploration, chapter activities, community service, and leadership opportunities.
In April, South Dakota FCCLA members gathered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the State Leadership Conference. During the conference, students could attend workshops, run for office, participate in competitive events, and listen to motivational speakers. Over 1,300 students attended this event.
Kiana Sauer, a sophomore from the Harrisburg chapter, knows that FCCLA has had a positive impact on her life.
“I feel like I’ve gained a lot of leadership skills and I’ve learned how to go outside of my comfort zone,” she said.
FCCLA has given Kiana the opportunity to serve as a chapter officer and participate in a variety of community service activities, such as her chapter’s annual Children’s Halloween Carnival.
Emma Pulfrey, a junior from the Alcester-Hudson chapter, said that FCCLA has helped her “grow and develop more leadership.”
Emma is a member of the Current Trends State Leadership Team, a team comprised of ten FCCLA members from across South Dakota who educate other students about current issues that affect teens. She joined the Current Trends Team because she “wanted to have more of an involvement in FCCLA.”
Each year, the Current Trends Team provides fun, educational activities and workshops at the FCCLA state meeting. This year, the team chose to focus on safety, with a special emphasis on driving safety, personal safety, and mental health. Throughout the school year, team members gave safety workshops at the FCCLA region meetings, wrote articles for their school newspapers, and gave presentations to community members. At the FCCLA state meeting, the team invited self-defense speakers to teach basic self-defense techniques to members.
Emma said the self-defense speakers were her favorite part of the weekend. The team members also presented a workshop about different types of safety.
“Someone could really relate to at least one thing we talked about, which I thought was really important, to get across at least some kind of message to someone because safety is one thing that can help make us all happier,” Emma said.
Community service is an important part of FCCLA, so the Current Trends Team hosted a service project at the state meeting. They invited chapters to bring supplies for tie blankets, and throughout the meeting, members could stop at the tie-blanket table and make blankets. The blankets were then donated to hospitals and shelters across South Dakota.