A record number of 159 students, grades 10-12, attended the senior session of the AFR Leadership Summit, July 25-28 at the Heartland Conference Center in Oklahoma City.
Summit sessions focused on leadership and personal development through team building exercises and personal reflection.
The theme this year was “Spark” which translated to encourage participants to become more involved, be more connected and to make changes in our daily lives that leave lasting legacies, said Micaela Danker, AFR/OFU youth development coordinator.
“The students had the opportunity to learn, grow and develop into leaders who are ready to take change back to their schools,” Danker said.
Summit participants engaged in a robust discussion of state issues during a policy session lead by Steve Thompson, AFR/OFU director of governmental relations. The students had the opportunity to research and debate issues such as teacher pay, animal welfare and four-day school weeks.
One of several team-building exercises included a service project where participants were broken into 16 groups. Each group was then given the task of advocating for their state, national or global level non-profit. At the conclusion of the service project, a $1,000 donation was made to Special Olympics Oklahoma, a sports training and competition program for persons with intellectual disabilities.
“This is a great opportunity for our participants to learn about different needs around the world and right here in Oklahoma,” Danker said.
The history of AFR is rich with culture and growth which began with Oklahoma Farmers Union. For more than 40 years the farm organization has sponsored a Leadership Summit for the state’s top young leaders. Many of the students have taken what they have learned back to their communities and served in greater leadership roles at the local and state levels.