The next generation of rural North Carolina leaders began their leadership journey January 13 – 15, 2017 at the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Conference. The conference, which was held by the Center for Creative Leadership at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, kicked off the next year of the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program. Funded by the Golden LEAF Foundation, this program provides college students from rural North Carolina with world-class leadership training and the opportunity to participate in a paid summer internship in rural NC.
Attending the conference were XXX college freshmen, representing XX rural North Carolina counties and XX North Carolina colleges and universities. Ten facilitators provided these Scholars with compelling leadership training, and twenty-seven coaches were paired with groups of Scholars to guide them through the experience. Many volunteers also contributed greatly to the success of the conference, graciously donating XXX hours to the program.
During the action-packed weekend, Scholars participated in engaging conversation and activities focused on “Leading Self” and “Leading Others.” Scholars also had the opportunity to discover their spark (passion) and create goals for securing a summer internship related to their spark. Scholars left the conference eager not only for the opportunity to take on a professional role this summer, but also to make a positive contribution to rural North Carolina.
Each Scholar is assigned a coach who participated with them during the conference and facilitated activities. After the conference, coaches have monthly calls with the Scholars to help them locate internships in rural N.C., and to implement the leadership lessons learned at the conference. Many of the coaches currently live and work in rural N.C. and many others were born and raised in rural N.C. communities.
Feedback from the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Conference has been overwhelmingly positive. According to program surveys, Scholars feel that the conference “increased their connection to the GLF Scholars community and to GLF,” enabled them to “develop a new perspective on leadership,” and “identify leadership skills needed in rural communities.” One Scholar noted that the weekend was “Very memorable, worth every minute. Made me feel like a better person. I’ll take these experiences and learning[s] throughout life.” Another stated, “I feel inspired, dedicated, and supported. I also am honored to have a team that believes in me.”