By Nikki Sue Larkin, Utah FCCLA State Adviser
Last month, the 2013 FCCLA National Leadership Conference (NLC) was held in Nashville, Tennessee during July 7-11. With the theme “Discover Your Voice” 140 FCCLA student members and 70 FCCLA advisers and chaperones from Utah found their tune as they attended dynamic workshops and break-out sessions, participated in STAR Events (competitive events), met new people, and expanded their leadership potential. Great memories were made at the various tourist attractions which included the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman, and the Wildhorse Saloon.
The Gaylord Opryland Hotel/Convention Center where we stayed was absolutely amazing. With the meandering rivers, overhanging trees, vines and beautiful flowers, it was like Hawaii but with air-conditioning! Besides being beautiful and huge, it was laid out in the most complex maze-like configuration.
Our first full day was Saturday and many of the Utah delegation rode a bus through torrential rain to visit Music Row and other sights around the city. They ended up at the Ryman, where they learned the history of country music and got some great photos on stage. They dined and line-danced at the Wildhorse Saloon and did a little shopping on Broadway. That evening they walked to the Grand Ole Opry and enjoyed some down home country music. The last performer was Carrie Underwood who made enduring the evening of “twang” worthwhile.
On Monday the conference really got started. Half of the STAR Events began as well as the FCCLA exhibits and workshops. Monday night was the opening session and was exceptionally enjoyable. The Utah delegation received red-light-up foam tubes, which we all waved frantically whenever Utah was recognized. The FCCLA National Officers did a skit using the “Voice” as their model. The guest speaker was Doc Hendley, a young man who told us his personal story and how he turned his own personal failures into success through helping provide clean water for third world countries. He was a remarkable speaker and motivator.
Tuesday was the second day of competitions and workshops. The students enjoyed some great youth speakers, including the ruggedly handsome Mike Smith who spoke about his journey to help the disadvantaged. At the exhibits there were great ideas for activities and programs teachers could use to incorporate in their own FCCLA chapters. There were pamphlets and handouts to take and even cooking demos in the back of the room, with samples to taste. On Wednesday, advisers and students attended many wonderful workshops and at the closing session many Utah FCCLA members were recognized for their achievements.
“I thought the FCCLA National Leadership Conference was incredible! In my opinion, there is no better way to catch the fire and enthusiasm for FCCLA than attending NLC. It really gives you the big picture. This was my second time attending as an adviser, and both times I have attended I have left with so many great ideas and a larger desire to strengthen my FCCLA chapter back at home. Some of my favorite parts of NLC are the general sessions. I am always amazed by the grand scale of FCCLA on the national level, the professionalism of the national officers, and their ability to put on such an entertaining and enriching performance. Another favorite was the opportunity to judge STAR Events and again be amazed by the incredible abilities of FCCLA members. All in all, friendships were formed, much fun was had, and I was again and again reminded how much I love and believe in the FCCLA organization!” said Brittany Peterson, American Fork High School FCCLA Adviser.
The 2013 FCCLA National Leadership Conference culminated with an Awards Ceremony Thursday night. Congratulations to each Utah FCCLA student member who participated in a STAR Event. Students worked hard throughout the year to advance to the national competition and represented Utah extremely well.
Our Utah competitors finished with 34 gold medals, 62 silver medals, and 22 bronze medals. Kaitlyn Burgess from Syracuse High School won 1st overall in the Interior Design event and Edna Cuevas from Timpanogas High School won 2nd overall in Fashion Design event. Melissa Behunin, Madison Donohoe, and Kelin Bleazard from Cedar High School won 2nd overall in the Digital Stories for Change event.
The list of Utah FCCLA National STAR Events Medal Winners can be viewed HERE.
Maddie Barr, Utah FCCLA Vice President of Community Service and student at Carbon High School, described her time at the 2013 National FCCLA Leadership Conference saying, “My experience at the FCCLA National Leadership Conference was an unforgettable one! I learned new leadership skills, how to better communicate with adults and other members, and how to gain confidence for myself and build up others confidence. I loved meeting new people and I can’t wait for what this year will bring for Utah FCCLA!”
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