Jordan Larson had an eye-opening experience recently as a participant in two Hugh O'Brien Youth (HOBY) conferences this summer - one at the campus of Graceland University and the other on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
The HOBY mission is to inspire and develop the global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation and to motivate and empower individuals to make a positive difference in the world through understanding and action based on effective and compassionate leadership. The conferences are designed for high school sophomores.
Larson was selected for participation in the conference first on the state level; 125 of Iowa's best young leaders took part in that event held in June at Graceland University. Larson was selected in an application process to attend the Washington, D.C. conference which was held July 25-Aug. 2.
"This opportunity was life-changing," said Larson, now a junior at Alta High School. "We learned to ask ourselves, 'What are we doing to change the world?' HOBY challenged us to put our leadership skills into action through community service."
Larson pointed out that the combined community service hours of the 125 Iowa HOBY participants and the participants at the World Leadership Congress have contributed "thousands of hours" of service during the two summer events.
"We met with community service organizations both at state and international levels. We strengthened our understanding of the value of service. Some examples at the WLC were working with Boys and Girls Clubs, Nets for Malaria, etc. At the state level we did community cleaning."
The WLC offered an array of activities including talks that challenged each of the participants to become stronger leaders. Such topics of discussion were, "Defining Leadership", "Personal Leadership Profiles - What Kind of a Leader Am I?", "How Can We Work Together as a Team?", and "Developing the Leader Within - How to Develop My Leadership Skills."
The group also talked understanding culture and religion, global perspectives, challenges and advancements in science, medicine and technology.
Larson and the other participants had the opportunity to tour the Smithsonian, take part in a dinner and reception at the Foreign Embassies and picnic on the National Mall.
One of Larson's favorite highlights was meeting several people who will now influence him in his leadership actions - Mike Huckabee, an alumnist of HOBY; Senator Tom Harkin, Hugh O'Brien, founder of HOBY; and CEOs of successful major businesses and their leaders.
From his experience, Larson has already made changes. He is involved on the student council and the Buena Vista University Youth Council and has ideas in mind for community service/leadership projects. He won't sit idle. He is geared up to make things happen.
"HOBY really opened my eyes to the big world out there!" he concluded.
Jordan is the son of Warren and Vicki Larson.