Chester student attends HOBY youth seminar
Chester’s Mabry Wingerter is feeling inspired this summer.
The rising Chester High School junior just returned from the four-day Hugh O’Brian South Central Illinois Youth Leadership Seminar June 16-19 at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.
Better known as HOBY, the leadership conference brings together selected students to develop leadership and critical thinking skills. According to their website, HOBY was started by actor Hugh O’Brian in 1958 as a “non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire a global community of young people and volunteers to a life of leadership. , service and innovation”.
Six decades later, HOBY continues to inspire young people around the world. Currently, more than 10,000 students who have just completed 10th grade attend HOBY seminars each year. The seminars are led by volunteers with community leaders, business leaders, educators and parents. Each seminar strives to follow the HOBY motto of teaching students “how to think, not what to think!”
Wingerter was nominated to represent the CHS by Councilor Kristin Wolter for her strong leadership skills and desire to help make her school and community better places. She was one of 72 young people from across the south-central Illinois region to attend.
“It was a bit daunting at first because I was the only student in the Chester area,” Wingerter said. “There was a student from Carbondale, one from DuQuoin, one from Nashville, one from Belleville West and one from Mascoutah, but even those five schools are quite far apart.
“The other 66 were even further away. Once we all settled in, we all became good friends and it didn’t matter how far or how big other schools were.”
This year’s HOBY ILCS seminar had a 90s theme – “Leadership is ALL THAT and a bag of chips.” Wingerter and 71 other Ambassadors, as the students are called, came together for four days to develop their leadership skills and learn to think for themselves.
“It was awesome when we arrived at Illinois Wesleyan University. There was a really high energy level and everyone was wearing ’90s clothes to go with the theme of the event,” Wingerter said. .
“Everyone was so friendly that it didn’t take long to start feeling good about themselves.”
Leadership seminar chair Kiersten Grathwohl, known at the seminars as ‘HOBY MAMA’, told the ambassadors, “You have been chosen to represent your school and your community because someone sees something special in you, even though you may not be. From this moment on, you are a leader!”
Wingerter said the four days were filled with seminars, group activities, speakers and fun. “They kept us busy all day,” she said.
Highlights included a ‘Shark Tank’ activity on the first day Wingerter’s group won the ‘Most Creative’ award for their idea – a ‘Gutter Buster’ tool for cleaning gutters. During the session, each group had 20 minutes to come up with an idea and make a presentation to the whole group of 72 people.
In one of the individual activities, Wingerter was asked to fill in an “identity circle” to describe herself. Mabry described herself as positive, competitive, encouraging and supportive, in addition to being determined, organized, successful and a perfectionist.
On day three, the 72 HOBY Ambassadors worked all morning packing meals into rice pouches for Florida-based Meals of Hope. The students worked on a production line to prepare and package healthy meals of rice, beans, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to feed a family of four. Individual meals were packed into crates to send to food pantries and organizations that feed the hungry.
Wingerter took two cases of the product home for the Chester Area Christian Food Pantry (CACFP). She presented the crates to Pantry Manager Bob Koenegstein on Monday, June 27.
Charged with the idea of doing something to help those at home, Wingerter and other students in the area decided to organize a 5k race called “Run for Resources”. Proceeds from the races would help fund much-needed improvements in schools and in the community.
“It was definitely an amazing experience! It was awesome to spend four days with 72 other amazing people who all wanted to do better and be better,” Wingerter said. “I now intend to bring what I have learned to Chester High School and the community of Chester and implement the leadership skills to better both the school and the city of Chester. “
Mabry is the daughter of Chris and Nicki Wingerter and is an excellent student at CHS. She is active in both sports and studies and maintains a perfect average of 4.0. She was sponsored by the Chester Rotary Club and will be presenting to the organization on the HOBY seminar.