"What a Great Way to Learn!" Southern District AAHPERD Student Leadership Conference Provides Unique Professional Development Experiences
VanBuren, Antwan, Bey, Leon Wright, VAHPERD Journal
"What an experience! I learned so much about leadership and teamwork at the Southern District AAHPERD Student Leadership Conference. The people I met, professionals and students alike, were instrumental parts of my stay in Johnson City Tennessee." Given the enormous success of this event that was hosted by East Tennessee State University (ETSU) last fall, it's likely that Antwan VanBuren's comments have been echoed by a wide variety of attendees who also participated in that unique conference.
Asked by Henry Castelvecchi, Executive Director of VAHPERD, to serve as the state of Virginia's student representative at the conference, VanBuren joined a host of delegates from the other 12 states that comprise the Southern District. At that time, VanBuren was the alternate to the student representative on VAHPERD's Board of Directors. His faculty advisor, Dr. Leon Wright Bey, who is a professor in the Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Department at Virginia State University (VSU), accompanied him. He accepted Castelvecchi's invitation to serve as VAHPERD's professional representative at the conference.
Much of the success of the event was attributed to the tremendous hospitality that was displayed by Dr. Chris Ayres, who directed the conference, and his colleagues at ETSU. The comprehensive schedule of events (see Agenda below) included, but was not limited to: leadership development sessions, teambuilding opportunities and ropes course activities.
VanBuren, a senior at VSU, indicated that, "The activity I enjoyed the most was the 17-mile bike ride that was (luckily) mostly downhill. I enjoyed that so much that I may do it again in the near future. During the journey through the Virginia Creeper Trail, we also stopped by an old train station that had paraphernalia from the 1970's that is still there. Personally, I thought that was really cool!"
"Cool" may be a good operative word to describe the nature of that day. Despite the chill of the morning air and a steady drizzle, the determined bikers worked closely together to negotiate the muddy terrain and complete their journey. In fact, the challenge of completing their quest, as a unit on that misty day seemed to have underscored the esprit de corps that gradually heightened throughout the conference.
That level of enthusiasm and unity permeated the atmosphere when the entourage from 13 different states embarked upon another journey. This time, the group traveled to Bristol Motor Speedway where they were exposed to many of the marketing and event management aspects of that expansive and spectacular venue and learned more about what it takes to host a NASCAR event. During their tour, they were even driven around the racetrack in a van ... at a moderate pace, mind you.
It was apparent that the exciting tour provided an enriching educational experience for conference attendees. It also held particular significance for Bey who, along with many others, had helped to present VSU's first Diversity in NASCAR Symposium earlier that month (September). During that event, which was held on VSU's campus, students, faculty, administrators, and others had the opportunity to network with key leaders in the motorsports industry.
VanBuren and Bey were also impressed with the networking that took place at the leadership conference in Tennessee. "During my stay at ETSU I got to meet some really wonderful people. We all got the chance to network and fellowship with each other, especially all the students with whom I came in contact. It was something about meeting those students. I felt that everyone I met had a leadership quality of some sort that I appreciated, and respected. I enjoyed conversing with them and learning different ideas. By the end of the conference, I knew that we had become better leaders," said VanBuren.
Leading the way for VanBuren and his cohorts was a group of stellar practitioners (see Agenda below). …