I’m departing, for a bit, on my writing about writing to talk about Iowa HOBY and what it means to me. First of all, HOBY stands for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program and its aim is to develop leadership skills in high school sophomores by empowering them to step up and contribute to their communities. One high school sophomore from every high school in the US (and 20 other countries!) is invited to represent their school at a weekend long leadership seminar.
I was chosen from my high school to attend the Illinois-Central/South HOBY seminar back in 1994 and it changed my life. Before I went to the seminar, I was very shy and reserved. While I considered myself intelligent, I didn’t think I had the power to change anything about the world. After I attended the program, I learned that with hard work and by believing in myself that I could make a difference. I went back every year after that to participate on staff and hopefully inspire other students the way I was when I was a sophomore.
After I went to college in Iowa and moved here permanently, I looked up the Iowa HOBY organization and started volunteering on staff. I was asked to help out on the seminar planning committee after that and eventually got my shot as seminar chairperson for 2 years. I had the opportunity to give back what I had gotten out of HOBY. When I finished my two years as chairperson, I was appointed Iowa HOBY Corporate Board president. And to think that only about 10 years before that when I was chosen by my high school to go to HOBY, I didn’t think I had the power to get anywhere in life. I looked back and realized that I was the president of a Non-Profit corporation before I was 30. How many people can say that?
Unfortunately, Iowa HOBY has been shrinking in size due to lack of funding. HOBY International started charging a fee for service in 2003 and the small rural schools in Iowa just don’t have that sort of money in their budgets allocated to one student. We work hard as a corporate board to make up the difference and give even more students the opportunity of a lifetime, but sometimes we come up short. Hopefully we can raise enough this year to increase our numbers.