8 Things You Learn at the Youth Excellence Seminar

8 Things You Learn at the Youth Excellence Seminar

It’s with good reason that everyone says the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar, AQHYA’s leadership conference, is a once-in-lifetime experience.

Youth Excellence Seminar attendees

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Imagine a place where young horse enthusiasts of all walks come together: Ages 10 to 18, AQHYA members and nonmembers alike, horse-showers and ranchers, horse-crazed girls and their reluctant brothers, timid wallflowers and outgoing social butterflies. The Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar truly welcomes everyone. The three-day, fun-packed event offers valuable leadership skills, inspiring speakers and tons of fun.

The 2019 seminar, set for July 9-11 in Amarillo, Texas, is also where AQHYA national officer and regional director elections take place.

  1. Mentors come in all forms. Mimi Cate Copeland says her favorite part about AQHYA is that older kids aren’t afraid to be mentors and take her under their wings. She admires her older peers, especially their involvement as officers, and loves that they make sure she feels included.
  2. It’s OK to go outside of your comfort zone. That’s what the conference’s mixer games are all about, and many an attendee will tell you that the games are their favorite part of YES.
  3. No, really – YES is even for the shy horse kids. Former AQHYA President Ann Elizabeth Tebow will tell you that she was very shy and timid, yet eager to be involved. YES encouraged her to network with other kids, then step up to the task of running for a director, then officer position.
  4. You’ll find horse enthusiasts all over the world. Yes, AQHYA members from all over the world travel to YES to attend.
  5. You don’t have to own horses to attend. Heck, you don’t even have to ride horses to participate, as AQHYA Region 7 Director Paul Parker likes to say. Paul had an amazing time at his first YES and was hooked after that – and he has his horse-crazy sister to blame (or thank).
  6. AQHYA is so much more than showing horses. YES attendees get a closer look at the all the amazing programs AQHYA offers. Plus, they’ll meet members who have participated in amazing programs like the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program, AQHA Youth Racing Experience and American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup.
  7. Everyone has something in common: the American Quarter Horse. If attendees take only one thing away from YES, says former AQHYA Region 8 Director and now a national director from Kansas Alan Hinds, it should be that while we all have different experiences, disciplines and dreams for the future, we can all come together. This is a concept the outside world often doesn’t understand: Very different groups can come together to achieve a common goal because of one shared passion. This lesson can be transferred to almost everything in life.
  8. Involvement is bittersweet. You’ll love the time at YES, but when the event comes to a close, you’ll be sad to see it end. The same goes for your time as an officer, says AQHYA First Vice President Kylie Good. One of the most touching moments at YES is listening to speeches from the outgoing officers.