Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, the Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) is one of the many ways the National FFA Organization offers members exceptional leadership training designed to serve them for years to come. This year, the conference marks a significant milestone – its 50th anniversary.
WLC, held in Washington, D.C., is the culmination of a three-part, cohesive conference series called the Chapter Leadership Continuum. Members have the option of attending the weeklong WLC at various points in June and July, during which they are exposed to a curriculum based on four tenants: ME, WE, DO and SERVE.
The conference often helps attendees become engaged citizens who have made positive differences in their communities and beyond.
“WLC helped me see how I could give back to others through FFA, and it opened my eyes to the world far beyond my hometown,” says Margery Magill, who attended WLC in 2009 as a member of the Marysville FFA Chapter in northern California. She now lives in Washington, D.C., and works as the program coordinator for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. “It also showed me how transferrable the skills I was learning in FFA could be and how my participation in the organization could help take me anywhere I wanted to go.”
Each of the four tenants are taught during a dedicated full day of the conference and through the context of the nation’s capital. With an emphasis on ME, members begin their WLC experience by looking inward at their unique offerings. They are asked to identify their six top strengths and six top passions, and they have the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery and take a night tour of monuments. On day two, members focus on WE. They learn about diversity and visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Day three of WLC emphasizes advocacy (DO), with members visiting the U.S. Capitol to see firsthand how taking action can lead to issues facing the nation being heard, considered and debated and to resolutions being written into law.
The pinnacle of WLC takes place on the event’s final day, during which attendees put the last tenant, SERVE, into action by engaging in a service day project aimed at helping meet the needs of Washington, D.C., residents.
Wes Hays, who attended WLC in 1991 while part of western Iowa’s Adair-Casey FFA Chapter, says the conference helped shape his worldview. He recommends that current FFA members attend if at all possible.
“Going to WLC was an incredibly impactful experience for me,” says Hays, who now serves as a soybean germplasm and deployment lead at Bayer Crop Science. “To have the opportunity to interact with people from across the country and from different walks of life was important, and it helped broaden my perspective of FFA, the agriculture industry and the world. Plus, I was able to learn about leadership and work with others as part of a team, and those lessons are still with me today.”
Interested in attending the WLC? Learn more and register.