Cassville FCCLA students represent school in California

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Students bring back leadership skills, sharpen talents

In early July, Cassville Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) members Robert Elliott and Coleman Hoppes represented their school, and Barry County, when they traveled across the country to San Diego, Calif., to attend the organization's National Leadership Conference, and brought back awards and new credentials.

The FCCLA is a national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address personal, family, work, and societal issues through family and consumer sciences education. The organization has more than 160,000 members and more than 5,400 chapters from 48 state associations, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

More than just an annual event, the conference gave the students opportunities to learn, be inspired, expand leadership skills, sharpen talents and explore career pathways, said Cassville High School FCCLA Student Adviser Samantha Cosper, who accompanied the students.

The event also helps members become strong leaders in their families, careers and communities, a hallmark of Cassville culture.

"The theme of this year's conference was 'Empowered,' which inspired attendees to make the right choices and commit themselves to making a positive impact within their families, schools, FCCLA and communities," Cosper said.

Elliott and Hoppes participated in Family and Consumer Sciences related competitive events at the conference, including Students Taking Action with Recognition (STAR) Events, the FCCLA/LifeSmarts Knowledge Bowl, and attended specialized leadership trainings.

"FCCLA events support foundational, leadership, and workplace skills in areas such as advocacy, culinary arts, and entrepreneurship," Cosper said. "Competing with over 4,500 STAR Event participants in San Diego, Robert Elliott received a gold medal in the event Sports Nutrition Senior. In addition, Coleman Hoppes completed the FCCLA State Officer training to fulfill his role as Missouri FCCLA vice president of public relations."

The students shared their perspectives.

"My favorite part of the conference was networking with other state and national officers, and seeing how they operate their state organizations," Hoppes said. "I learned new ways to increase membership and get our members more involved."

"The best experience for me was receiving a gold medal in the Sports Nutrition STAR Event competition," Elliott said. "This was my first year in FCCLA and my first time competing, and it was a great feeling to be so successful."

Along with new skills and new insights, the students benefited from the trip itself, Cosper said.

"I think our students come away with a lot by attending a national conference like this," she said. "First, they get to see the world outside of Cassville. Our small town is great, but this opens their eyes and hearts to new cultures, ways of life, and opportunities. They also get a chance to network and learn from other FCCLA members across the U.S. as well as professional people and organizations that are connected to FCCLA."

Cosper said she learned a few things as well.

"I, too, was able to attend some sessions during the conference to help me as a teacher and FCCLA advisor," she said. "I was able to learn about some new grant opportunities and lesson plans that I hope to be able to participate in and bring back to my classroom. I always like to share with the other teachers as well."

Due to the expense of a trip so far away, the group only attends a national conference when they have members who qualify, and thanks to support from the school, they were able to attend.

"It is a great conference, but is costly, so we only go when we have a reason to be there," Cosper said. "There are a lot of expenses to plan for. We are incredibly fortunate that our school district does what they can to support our students who qualify for state and nationals. The school covered 50 percent of the cost of transportation, registration, and hotel. Our FCCLA chapter held a lunch delivery fundraiser that was very successful and covered the remaining cost. We paid for our own meals and souvenirs on the trip."

This fall, Hoppes and Elliott will present workshops to members of the FCCLA region on a topic that they learned from the conference.

"The relationships developed and training experienced during this conference have empowered students to go into their schools and communities and make a difference, bringing with them the values and passions FCCLA brings to our members," said Sandy Spavone, executive director of FCCLA.

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