Leadership On & Off the Field Conterence
November 2008

The Kansas Youth Leadership Academy hosted the Leadership on and off the field conference for high school student athletes on November 11, 2008. The conference took place at the Topeka Capitol Plaza, and approximately 90 students from 13 schools across the state attended the event.

Students attended training sessions that focused on various leadership topics, including goal setting, sportsmanship, and character education. Keynote speakers included Candace Whitaker, the Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Candace spoke about the importance of making good choices and staying positive even when times get tough. Richard Dedor, President and CEO of Richard Dedor Communications in Kansas City, encouraged students to live their dreams, and focused on the importance of civic engagement and social responsibility that every student athlete has in his or her community. Both speakers addressed the important role and responsibility these young athletes have been given. The call for leadership within their classroom environment and community in which they live is a charge they can step up and fill!


Leadership On & Off the Field to Hold Conference
September 2007

The stands are filling, the crowds are cheering, and the anticipation and excitement for the big game is overflowing. Whether they are the hometown hero or a national star, athletes are some of the most influential members of our community. With all of the pressure to succeed, it is critical that young Kansas athletes have the tools necessary to grow in their athletic event, in the classroom and socially. In order to meet the needs of our young student athletes, the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy (KYLA) will be hosting the second bi-annual Leadership on and off the field conference for student athletes November 5-6 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka.

“I strongly encourage school administrators, teachers and coaches to take advantage of this new cutting-edge program.” said Coach Bill Snyder, former Kansas State University Head Football Coach and a previous Leadership on & off the field conference keynote speaker. Leadership on and off the field: leadership development for the student athlete is a two-day conference designed to provide Kansas high school student athletes, regardless of sport, with comprehensive leadership training. This program has two objectives: first, to nurture and enhance the leadership behaviors that many young student athletes are beginning to display; and second, to help student athletes transfer these skills from the athletic arena to other areas of their lives. Utilizing leadership experts, coaches, athletic directors, and community leaders from across the country, this specialized curriculum focuses on character development, leadership and teambuilding skills, and citizenship.

Conference speakers will include Patti Phillips, Director of the Women’s Intersport Network of Kansas City (WIN for KS) and former Ottawa Lady Braves basketball coach, and Kendall Gammon, Kansas native and a 15-year veteran of the NFL.

Leadership on & off the field will kick off on Nov. 5, at 1:00 p.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, with “The Call for True Champions” a powerful video which encourages student athletes to assume a positive role in their communities and world. The conference is split into five 60-minute sessions. Each session includes hands-on application and discussion centering on five basic themes: leadership concepts and skills, competition and sportsmanship, team dynamics, character development, and active citizenship. A “coaching clinic” will be held in conjunction with the student conference for participating coaches and sponsors.

Kansas Youth Leadership Academy Kicks Off Fall Seminar Series
September 2007

The Kansas Youth Leadership Academy has scheduled the dates for its annual fall middle school and high school seminars to be held in Hays, Wichita and Topeka. KYLA seminars provide students hands-on leadership training, and the opportunity for youth to network with other developing leaders from neighboring schools. All Kansas middle and high school students are invited to attend a KYLA seminar near them and develop their life-long leadership skills.

Seminar sessions will focus on recognizing the traits and skills of a leader, the importance of networking and building relationships, knowing one’s role in the community, team building, communication, risk taking and thinking beyond boundaries.

“We’re really excited about this semester’s sessions,” said Cathie Klein, director of KYLA. “We have a variety of new session content and activities to engage students in discovering their own leadership skills.”

The seminar schedule is as follows: Hays middle schools: Tuesday, Oct. 2; Hays high schools: Thursday, Oct. 4; Topeka middle schools: Wednesday, Oct. 9; and Topeka high schools: Wednesday, Oct. 10; Wichita middle schools: Tuesday, Oct. 16; Wichita high schools: Wednesday, Oct. 17.

KYLA is a statewide, comprehensive program that promotes youth leadership development. Its primary emphasis is to provide practical tools and education to nurture the development of young people with strong character traits, engaging civic attitudes and a clear understanding of leadership development. In addition, the “soft skills” students gain from KYLA’s instruction aid students in their preparation for the 21 st century workplace.

The leadership opportunities provided by KYLA are made possible through a unique public/private partnership with the McDonald’s Owner-Operators of Kansas. This partnership, which began in 2005 and was renewed this year, illustrates the dedication of the Kansas McDonald’s Owner-Operators to make a difference in the lives of children.

Kansas Youth Leadership Academy Hosts 6th Annual Camps
June 2007

The Kansas Youth Leadership Academy held its annual middle school camp from June 6-8 and high school camp from June 19-22 on the Fort Hays State University campus.

106 middle school and 98 high school students from across the state of Kansas gathered to learn about concepts such as teamwork, problem solving, diversity, communication, and citizenship. Campers participated in Lead-O-lympics, interactive leadership sessions, and a community service project in which middle school students helped in filling luminary bags, hanging posters and other jobs in setting up for Relay for Life. High school students worked with Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents throughout the week learning new dance steps, proper dinner etiquette, playing Bingo and sharing stories about one another’s lives. The students also received some relaxation time at the Hays Aquatic Park and a BBQ dinner in Frontier Park.

Scholarships and/or monetary donations were made through both private and public entities helping to support KYLA’s efforts to maintain an affordable tuition fee for parents and students. Because of this generosity, many students were able to participate at camp.

Through the corporate partnership of McDonald’s owner-operators and their 153 restaurants, the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy has been able to impact the lives of youth, and develop future leaders through their seminars, specialized trainings, and camps.

Youth Leadership Inspires Youth And Encourages Seniors
June 2007- Story by Charlene Watson, The Kansas Senior Times

The noise was palpable and the energy out the top of the reactor scale when the doors to the gym of the Hays Recreation Center opened Friday afternoon, June 22, and 105 high school students, from all across Kansas, bound into the room. The event was the final afternoon of the annual Kansas Youth Leadership Academy camp hosted by Fort Hays University (FHSU) each year. High School students, grades 9-12...
Click here for the complete story

New high school athlete leadership program marks first conference
April 2007

Promoting youth leadership development has always been the mission of the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy, but recently it developed a new method for reaching its audience: through the influence of high school student athletes.

Leadership on & off the field: leadership development for the student athlete is a youth leadership program aimed to instruct student athletes on how to transfer their leadership skills from the field to the classroom and to other areas of their lives.

Hundreds of high school athletes from 26 schools across the state attended the first two-day conference at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Wichita. It was split into several 75-minute sessions and included hands-on application and discussion centering on five basic themes: leadership concepts and skills, competition and sportsmanship, team dynamics, character development, and active citizenship.

Conference speakers included former Kansas State University Head Football Coach Bill Snyder, former collegiate and professional baseball player and Target Corporation executive, Will Baker, and founder of Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) and former high school hockey coach, Bob Anastas. Each speaker addressed his audience from the stage of the Warren Theatre in Wichita’s Old Town.

“I tell kids ‘I am giving you a formula to follow. If you do what I tell you, colleges will break down doors to get you. You'll be more than athletes and students; you'll be good people who are also athletes,’" said Anastas, who cashed in his retirement to begin SADD after losing two of his athletes to alcohol-related accidents.

Anastas began SADD in 1983 when the national average of alcohol-related deaths among 16- to 19-year-olds was six thousand a year. Today the average is down to just over one thousand.

According to Anastas, parents and teachers are sending the wrong message; they say “don’t drink; don’t do drugs,” but they don’t explain to kids why they’re doing it in the first place. They don’t explain peer pressure.”

Snyder also warned students of the dangers of alcohol abuse when sharing the story of his daughter’s traumatic alcohol-related accident. Snyder's daughter Meredith sat in the passenger seat while her intoxicated friend lost control of her vehicle. Meredith flew through the windshield and slammed into a tree. The doctors declared her paralyzed for life from the neck down.

"It takes perseverance and persistence to reach your goals," Snyder said. "My daughter showed amazing persistence. Today she not only walks on her own, but she owns and operates two businesses."

Baker, who typically speaks to business executives and college students, altered his message to relate to the younger crowd.

"The basics of my message are the same," said Baker. "They are what I stand for as a business leader and as a coach: Learn. Teach. Communicate. I use the same methods and lessons coaching my Target team as I do my team of 11-year-old baseball players."

Baker admits that although he strives to create a diverse team of employees, he tries to recruit a fair share of former athletes.

"They have the drive, determination and multitasking skills it takes to be successful in this business," he said. "And they learn it on the field."

Bringing a dramatic end to the conference, KYLA presented their recently-developed video titled "The Call for True Champions" urging the youth to take action and volunteer in their communities. The video finished with a quote from Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

“The conference changed my life and the lives of the students,” said Roxanne Whaley, business teacher at Junction City High School. “The messages from the speakers were truly amazing…I have since obtained the video to show all my classes and ask them how they could be change agents…It was a great, great conference. It was definitely a foundation to build and expand from.”

The next Leadership on & off the field conference is scheduled for November 5 and 6. Leadership on & off the field is sponsored by the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy in partnership with the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, and is funded by Sunflower Bank and the McDonald’s owner-operators of Kansas. KYLA is part of the Center for Civic Leadership at Fort Hays State University.

Kansas Youth Leadership Academy kicks off Leadership on and off the Field
January 2007

Ask a kid to name a role model and chances are high he or she will name an athlete -- hopefully one with a positive moral character. Because even high school athletes are likely to influence children, the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy is beginning a new initiative to foster the leadership skills athletes demonstrate.

The program, "Leadership on and off the Field: leadership development for the student athlete,” is a two-day youth conference -- sponsored by Sunflower Bank -- that aims to instruct student athletes on how to transfer their leadership skills from the field to the classroom and to other areas of their lives.

Bill Snyder, former Kansas State University head football coach will serve as one of three conference speakers.

“Some of these athletes are unaware that they’re already demonstrating exemplary leadership skills,” said Cathie Klein, director of KYLA. “Our goal is to help them transfer these skills from their given sports arenas to the other areas of their lives.”

The first day begins with registration at 1 p.m. The conference is from 2:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, and from 8:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum, 238 Meade, in Wichita.

The conference is split into several 75-minute sessions. Each session includes hands-on application and discussion centering on five basic themes: leadership concepts and skills, competition and sportsmanship, team dynamics, character development, and active citizenship.

Other speakers are Bob Anastas, founder and former executive director of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), and Will Baker, a business executive for Target Corporation and former baseball player for Mesa State College in Colorado.

KYLA Gains National Exposure in TIME Magazine
August 2006

In the August 7, 2006 issue of Time magazine, Lewis Toyota in Hays is featured and awarded for their contributions to young people through the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy (KYLA). Lewis Toyota provided camp scholarships this summer for six middle and high school students. The article gives a brief description of KYLA and the summer camps and features a photograph with former KYLA director Kelley Kuhlmann, KYLA participants Elizabeth Rupp and Reid O’Brien, Lewis Toyota owner Jim Lewis, and his daughter Jamey Harms.

Canton-Galva Eagle Leaders
August 2006

KYLA assisted the Canton-Galva Eagle Leaders, a new group that will play a leadership role within their school and surrounding community. The Eagle Leaders responsibilities include welcoming new students, assisting students that may be struggling at school, and providing a service element to Canton-Galva High School. KYLA acted as a facilitator in uniting the newly established group. Once the members became acquainted, the group addressed the importance of communication, team dynamics and the roles leaders and followers play in any organization. The morning concluded with an “Action Plan” activity that would assist the group in carrying out a service project.

Governor forges business-education alliance Owner-operators of McDonald’s restaurants in Kansas pledge $100,000 for Kansas Youth Leadership Academy
January 2005

On January 12, 2005, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius announced that the Owner-Operators of the 152 McDonald’s restaurants in Kansas joined in a partnership with the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy to educate the state’s future leaders.

“The McDonald’s Restaurant owner-operators donated $100,000 over a two-year period,” Gov. Sebelius said. “This made it possible for young Kansans to learn about leadership and develop the tools necessary to become effective citizen leaders. Aside from the obvious benefit of this gift for the future of our state, I’m also optimistic their generosity can serve as the model for other partnerships between business and education.”

The KYLA is based at Fort Hays State University’s Center for Civic Leadership but conducts seminars and camps at various sites so that middle-school and high-school students throughout the state can participate. It was founded in June 2004 with a $50,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, but new sources of funding were needed to continue and expand the program. Gov. Sebelius asked the McDonald’s Owner-Operators to help, and the answer was yes.

“The opportunity to contribute to young people’s development in the areas of character, leadership and civic involvement was an invitation we couldn’t pass up,” said Lee Renz, vice president, general manager of McDonald’s Corporation Heartland Region.

“We are privileged to be asked and proudly accept this partnership in a statewide youth leadership development initiative.”

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, was the moderator for today’s news conference to announce the new partnership. “I also want to thank the governor for her leadership and assistance in building this partnership in support of the KYLA,” he said.

Gail Kuehl, who owns and operates the McDonald’s restaurants in Hays, WaKeeney and Russell with her husband, Rick, explained why her group was willing to answer the governor’s request. “Community leadership and responsibility are inherent to McDonald’s heritage and values,” she said. “The cornerstone of the McDonald’s system’s approach to philanthropy is to make a difference in the lives of children. We accomplish this through the dedication and commitment of the 48 owner-operators of the 148 McDonald’s Restaurants across the state of Kansas. I have had the privilege of being involved with KYLA since its inception. They are doing such important work in the development of our future leaders. It has been very rewarding to see the growth in these kids as they begin their journeys of personal development.”

Kuehl said that as far she knew, this was the first time the family of McDonald’s Restaurants in Kansas had joined together unanimously on a single project.

“We look forward to being the cornerstone in the project as we all move forward together toward a brighter future which will be created by these exceptional young people,” she said.

Dr. Curt Brungardt, director of FHSU’s Center for Civic Leadership, said the $100,000 partnership with the McDonald’s restaurants of Kansas was vital to the future of KYLA. “This contribution makes it possible to fulfill the KYLA mission of encouraging young Kansans to, first, live safe and healthy lives with strong character and, second, be active community members who serve as lifelong citizen leaders,” he said.

“I thank the generous McDonald’s owner-operators not only for the $100,000 gift but for their support of KYLA,” President Hammond said. “This partnership will be an ongoing benefit to all Kansans.”

The KYLA program is divided into four main components: academy seminars, resident camps and conferences, specialized programs, and teacher preparation.

The academy seminars, the first step in the civic leadership process, are presented yearly to middle-school and high-school students at different college-level institutions. During each seminar, students are introduced to the basic principles of civic leadership through discussion and activities. At the conclusion of the seminar, students will return to their schools with a leadership plan developed to implement the theories they have learned.

Seminars were conducted Sept. 27 at FHSU in Hays, Oct. 14 at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, and Nov. 11 at the Kaw Area Technical School in Topeka. The themes KYLA focuses on for 2004-2005 are integrity, team dynamics, effective communication, leadership concepts (the skills and concepts needed to make a good leader), diversity appreciation, and citizenship.

Specialized Programs, another component of KYLA, are designed to provide a statewide public outreach for school districts and other organizations. KYLA Director Kara Moore and Certified Leadership Trainers from KYLA travel from school to school assisting sixth- through 12th-graders with leadership development. After a brief interview with interested students about their goals and expectations for the training, the staff of KYLA tailors a program specifically for that school or organization. These instructed students then assume leadership roles and disseminate the information to their school systems to help the schools develop individual and unique leadership programs.

The next component, resident camps and conferences, was first implemented four years ago by the Center for Civic Leadership at FHSU. During each summer session, an in-depth understanding of leadership is introduced to middle-school and high-school students through daily leadership activities.

The final component, teacher preparation, will instill leadership programs into the school systems for academic use and will ensure that teachers receive adequate instruction to teach the programs.

For more information about the academy or to become involved in KYLA, visit or call (785) 628-5399.

Kansas Youth Leadership Academy holds Eastern Kansas Summer Camps - 7/26/05
The Kansas Youth Leadership Academy held the Eastern Kansas Summer Leadership Camps July 9-11 and July 24-25 at Tall Oaks Conference Center near Lawrence, Kansas.

The Academy is a state-wide, youth leadership program designed to assist 6-12 grade students in leadership development. The campe were created last summer by Fort Hays State University’s Center for Civic Leadership in Hays, Kansas and has seen a great deal of success throughout the school year.

The Eastern Kansas High School camp, held July 9-11th for students entering grades nine through twelve, involved an intense and in-depth look at leadership. Camp participants were involved in a series of leadership session workshops which included an introduction to leadership styles, a leadership based activity called Trade or Invade, and Leadership Jeopardy. High school aged participants also had workshops in diversity appreciation, integrity, citizenship, etiquette training. There were various teambuilding exercises such as an adventure ropes course, a team-building team discussion and The Amazing Race: Academy Style, an activity based on the popular reality show.

“I believe this camp develops leadership while promoting integrity, teamwork, and citizenship,” says Joel Krause, a junior from Wichita who attends Campus High School. “The activities that we participate in are high tempo and upbeat. Each day is like a new adventure.”

The Eastern Kansas Middle School camp, held July 24-25 for students entering grades six through eight, also involved a more in-depth study of leadership topics. Participants attended workshops dealing with integrity, diversity appreciation, leadership concepts, and citizenship. They also learned teambuilding through participating in an adventure ropes course and through competing in a condensed version of The Amazing Race: Academy Style.

“I think that KYLA camp is good for a lot of people,” says Carson Claybrook, an 8th grader at Maize South Middle School. “It teaches you how to be a better leader, person, and role model. If more people attended than everyone would be helping their communities and it would be great! KYLA teaches you the skills you need to be a great leader, and the counselors and staff are awesome!”

Students at both camps also had the opportunity to participate in a civic project for the Kansas City Area’s Ronald McDonald House, a program which houses families of terminally ill children receiving treatment at local hospitals. Campers painted wooden toys, jewelry boxes, and door hangers to be given to children and families who stay at the Ronald McDonald Houses.

The Kansas Youth Leadership Academy will be holding day long Academy seminars across the state for middle school and high school students. The seminars will focus on leadership themes chosen as the area of focus for the 2005-2006 academic year. The seminars will be held in four locations across the state. The northwest Kansas seminar will be held at the Sternberg Museum in Hays on September 13th for high school students and September 15th for middle school. The northeast Kansas seminar will be held at KAW Area Technical School in Topeka on October 4th for middle school students and on October 5th for high school students. The southwest Kansas seminar will be held on the Garden City Community College campus in Garden City on October 25th for middle school students and on October 26th for high school students.


"In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything that we say or do."
-Stephen Covey

Kansas Youth Leadership Academy, Center for Civic Leadership, 600 Park Street, Hays, KS 67601 • Tel 785-628-5399 • Fax 785-628-4051• Email
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