While the average American cannot say they’ve had dinner with a U.S. congressman or received a firsthand lesson on economics from a Wall Street Journal editorialist, students from 30 states from across the country can testify to experiencing just that.
Young America’s Foundation held its 13th annual National High School Leadership Conference in Chevy Chase, Md., last month where students had the opportunity to hear from influential leaders in the conservative movement and interact with like-minded peers.
The conference commenced with a trip to Gettysburg, Pa., where foundation board member and Americans for Prosperity Washington State Director Kirby Wilbur provided the young conservatives with a play-by-play of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Alyssa Reinicke of El Cajon, Calif., said of the experience, “I wish all students could attend the Gettysburg tour. Mr. Wilbur knows so much about Gettysburg, you almost feel like you were there during the battle.”
Bay Buchanan, president of the American Cause, received an enthusiastic standing ovation after she spoke to the students about the importance of standing up for the rights of unborn children. Participant Kristin Gawlick of Closter, N.J., said, “Bay Buchanan really inspired me to do whatever it is I can possibly do in the pro-life movement.”
HUMAN EVENTS Editor Jason Mattera was a favorite speaker among the students and provided students with a humorous look at the liberal brainwashing of America’s youth during the 2008 presidential election. Christopher Stancato, a student from Pleasant Prarie, Wis., thought Mattera was inspiring, saying, “He offered a refreshing perspective on how the Obama Administration brainwashed my generation.”
Both nights of the conference featured a dinner banquet with a prominent conservative. The first night, Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio) discussed the importance of combating the three main challenges facing America: terrorism, the national debt, and the decline in the country’s values system.
Zachary Miller, a student from Lima, Ohio, sat with the congressman during the banquet and said, “Eating dinner with my own congressman was indeed an honor. I realized that he is just a regular great American that loves his country, his family, and God. I feel very blessed to have had a good conversation with him about our home district.”
Stephen Moore, economist and Wall Street Journal editorialist, addressed the students at the second dinner banquet. “Being able to hear from a Wall Street Journal editorialist was incredible. We had a private lesson on the economy from a really important figure in American news media—how many other people can say that,” said Kiana Dunn of Escondido, Calif.
The students were able to engage informally during bull sessions held each night that were moderated by Kirby Wilbur. Topics ranged from gay marriage to illegal immigration and terrorism, and the young conservatives passionately debated their own views on the issues.
The conference wrapped up with a monuments tour of Washington, D.C. The students made stops at the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial—and received a brief lesson on each of the monuments from Wilbur.
“While I loved hearing from all of the speakers, my favorite part of the conference was meeting such great and intelligent young people and having the opportunity to spend a few days with them learning about conservatism. It was the best thing I could ask for,” said Steven Bailey of Olmito, Tex.
The conference may have only been three days long but the students left the event armed with facts and resources for a lifetime of conservative activism.
Tyler Hormel of Bellevue, Wash., said, “The speakers inspired me in new ways and set a fire in me to spread conservatism. I look forward to returning home and continuing to promote conservatism with new energy and boldness.”
Other leaders who spoke at the conference include, Young America’s Foundation Vice Presidents Patrick Coyle and Kate Obenshain, Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review, Tim Goeglein of Focus on the Family, Hillsdale College professor Burt Folsom, Citizens United President Dave Bossie, Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute President Michelle Easton, Young Briton’s Foundation’s Development Director Mark Clarke, and best-selling author, Rebecca Hagelin.
For more information on how you can attend a Young America’s Foundation conference, or bring a prominent conservative speaker to your high school or college, please visit www.yaf.org or call 1-800-USA-1776.