Youths learns lessons on leadership with LeadAmerica, Fort McPherson Soldiers
Maj. Claudia Jefferson, U.S. Army Reserve Command public affairs officer, leads a group of students in the LeadAmerica program into the USARC Headquarters June 17. The students learned leaderships skills from Soldiers on Fort McPherson throughout the day.

Leaders aren't born, they are sculpted through time through experience, education, trials and tribulation.

Seventy students from around the country participating in the LeadAmerica Youth Leadership Organization received such lessons in leadership from the hammer and chisel of the U.S. Army at Fort McPherson June 17.

The students, taking part in a 10-day leadership conference, stopped by the post to interact with Soldiers in three of the tenant commands here: U.S. Army Central, U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command.

Each interaction lasted approximately 45 minutes. At the end of the event, all of the groups came together for a briefing by U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Deborah Grays.

"You're all starting on the road to being leaders," said Col. Charles Phillips, USARC chief of staff, adding that the road is a lifelong pursuit. "Leadership isn't learned overnight; it is something tested over time."

Phillips began his lessons in leadership for the students by listing three traits necessary for leaders.

"In order to be a leader, you have to be there and take responsibility," he said. The other two traits Phillips listed were to always make your surroundings a better place to work and live, and setting priorities and delegating. He also said a good starting point to being a good leader is to be a good person.

Learning leadership lessons from today's Soldiers was important for the students, because the military is a possible career plan for many of them.

Gregory Copplin, 16, a student at Lakewood High School, Lakewood, Calif., said he plans to follow in the footsteps of his tank-officer father and attend West Point, a family tradition that dates all the way back to the Civil War. with Union general Maj. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.

Scott Wehrmeyer, 17, a student at Montwood High School, El Paso, Texas, said he plans to continue his family's tradition of serving in the armed forces by joining the Marine Corps.

"It's been fun going off learning about different things, going on adventures," Wehrmeyer said of the trip, which will include trips to Stone Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, the Museum of Patriotism and Camp Frank D. Merrill, Ga., home of the 5th Ranger Training Battalion and the mountain phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School.

"It's good to be here, see different people and see what they have in common."
Though not all in attendance were sure of their future plans, speaking with Soldiers did provide insight into potential opportunities.

"I'm interested in helping people around the world and in computers and science, but I'm not sure yet (if I want to join the military)," said military brat Elizabeth Lamke, 15, a Raleigh, N.C. native. "What I learn here now will help me make my decision."

Lamke, a student at Wake Early college, a five-year high school program were attendees graduate with an associate degree, said she has been learned a lot about the different branches of service and which branch would be the best fit for her skills and interests if she chooses to join the service.

In this sense, LeadAmerica accomplished one of its main themes to help transform and educate the next generation of leaders in America.

Phillips encouraged the students to learn in all they do, and to educate themselves into better leaders through good and bad experiences.

"Dead flowers last longer," Phillips said. "Sometimes the most valuable lessons in life aren't from the most pleasant things."

Page last updated Fri June 26th, 2009 at 09:58