South Texas: Youth Leadership Program

Inspiring ‘Can-Do’ Attitudes

The YOUth LEADership Conference is an annual program that equips middle school students with essential leadership skills needed to help them reach their education and career goals. The five-day conference is co-hosted by the Victoria Business and Education Coalition (VBEC) and Pioneer Natural Resources each June at the Victoria College campus.

Incoming seventh graders from throughout the Eagle Ford Shale region are nominated to participate by their principals, teachers, counselors and clergy members. One hundred are selected each summer, and 30 past participants return year after year to serve as team leaders.

Throughout the week, students find a new self-confidence as they build friendships and experience dynamic presentations from guest speakers. Each fun-filled day focuses on a different leadership theme, starting with identifying students’ goals and dreams. Engaging activities then teach them the importance of achieving success through continued education, honesty, integrity, perseverance, courage and diligence.

Team-building games, a rock-wall climb, community service projects, a water party and field trips also await attendees. The conference culminates in a closing awards ceremony where, in front of parents and friends, many students volunteer to share how the program has impacted their lives.

Whether they are learning valuable lessons on earning trust (via a team of incredibly trained dogs), listening to an armless man’s inspirational story of never giving up, or conducting exciting experiments on “YOUth LEADers in Science Day,” the hope is that when students return to their schools and communities, they bring with them an “I can” attitude and the motivation to lead by example.  

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