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Supporting Tomorrow's Leaders Today

2023 Student Leadership Conference

Students discover leadership voices at conference

As a self-described introvert, Staples-Motley High School student Annie Schlosser didn’t consider herself a leader.

However, her mindset changed after she participated in an all-day Student Leadership Conference hosted by Sourcewell – Oct. 23, 2023, at Central Lakes College – Staples Campus.

“I didn’t really think I was much of a leader, and then I saw you can be a leader without being loud and extroverted,” Schlosser said. “Leaders can come in many different shapes and forms.”

More than 100 high school students representing central Minnesota school districts participated, according to event organizer and Sourcewell Student Academics Coordinator Phillip Olsen.

The day and presentations were based on the concept of GiANT Worldwide – an international program designed to help individuals understand their leadership voices and tools. Through a self-assessment, students were able to uncover their leadership voice, what their voice order means, and what makes them great leaders. Presentations were designed to help students explore who they are as leaders and how to bring new leadership skills back to their school, Olsen said.

“Each participating district hand-selected the students invited to the conference,” Olsen said. “The students were identified as young leaders who have the potential to positively impact their teams and clubs, as well as their school and community as a whole.”

This was the first year the conference was held. Olsen said it stemmed from conversations with local school districts that emphasized the need for leadership training for their students.

“Knowing there was a need and a desire from our districts, we went to the drawing board and created a conference focused on helping these young leaders learn and grow,” Olsen said.

 Presenters included certified GiANT leadership guide and coach Jeff Meacham; and Sourcewell education consultants Jordan Herman, Rachel Logan, Kevin Votaw, and Lisa Worden.

Brainerd High School student and athlete Odin Shoberg was also among those selected to participate in the conference. And while skeptical of what he’d take away from the day, he said it was truly an eye-opening experience that he can apply to athletics and school life.

“I kind of expected to go into it and come out a bit of a better leader, wanting to speak up more,” Shoberg said. “But I get that being a leader isn’t always about being loud and that there’s many types of it.”

Shoberg said there were many positive takeaways from the conference, but his biggest was not only taking his own leadership voice into account, but also the voices of others he may be leading.

“Not only do I know what kind of a leader I am and how I can apply it, but also what type of leader other people are and how I can help them see that or how I can be there for them.”

To learn more about this and other events for local students, visit sourcewell.co/studentprograms.

Participating districts included:

  • Brainerd
  • Crosby-Ironton
  • Menahga
  • Pierz-Healy
  • Pillager
  • Pine River-Backus
  • Staples-Motley
  • Upsala
  • Verndale
  • Walker-Hackensack-Akeley