Leaders in Life Youth Conference  

For two decades, Kern County middle and high school students, along with adult mentors, have annually organized one of California’s largest youth leadership conferences. Leaders in Life was the brainchild of local businessman, Morgan Clayton, who in 1998, attended the Bakersfield Business Conference. The annual conference featuring nationally and internationally recognized speakers for adults on business and political issues inspired Clayton. He had the visionary idea of founding a local youth conference planned by young people to give them a voice and to provide a forum in which to discuss issues that impact teens. He contacted the Kern County Network for Children and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office to help organize students around this concept. As they say, the rest is history.

The foundation was laid for a student-led, student driven planning process to organize a conference “for teens, by teens.” The main goal was to help a diverse group of young people plan an event to enable other teens to see what was going on in their community and to help them become aware of community and school-based programs that addressed the problems they faced. The format of the conference — who would speak at workshops, what programs and topics should be addressed, what resources would be highlighted — would all be decided by the young people.

The 20th annual installment is planned for March 14 and will again enlighten participants on issues that are important to them so that they can make healthy and informed decisions regarding drug and alcohol abuse, future career exploration, and youth advocacy; and they are motivated to help others make positive decisions.

This year Josh Shipp will serve as keynote speaker. Josh has been featured by The New York Times, Good Morning America, OPRAH, and his documentary TV series from A&E followed his ground-breaking work with teens.

He’s the author of “The Grownups Guide to Teenage Humans” and has spoken at Harvard, Stanford, and to more than two million students, parents, teachers, and caring adults. Josh has established an international reputation as an inspiring youth motivational speaker with a simple and entertaining, yet challenging message.

Abandoned and abused as a child, Josh was able to triumph over the tragedy, and he continues to encourage everyone to overcome struggles and live life to the fullest. He is a former Foster Youth that has turned his many tough life experiences into a platform for promoting mentoring and caring adult relationships with kids as way to help teens become more resilient. And he does so through the power of laughter.

For more information about Leadership in Life, visit www.leadersinlife.org