Friday, March 23, 2018

Hardin High School junior Amanda Koehler recently addressed the Hardin Kiwanis Club to speak to them about her time at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership camp. Pictured from the left are Kiwanis members Walt Egged and Debbey Warren, Koehler, and members Jeff McDowell, Karl Burns and Linda Uffelman.

Hardin H.S. junior Amanda Koehler hones leadership skills at HOBY camp

Amanda Koehler spoke to Hardin Kiwanis Club recently on her experience at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership camp, held from June 1-4 at Montana State University-Bozeman. The Hardin High School junior had difficulty getting her points across, according to Kiwanis Treasurer Debbey Warren, but they encouraged her to continue her presentation.
School counselors had, after all, picked her as the person to attend Montana HOBY and Kiwanis had funded her trip. Just because someone has difficulty in communicating, Warren said, doesn’t mean they can’t offer anything leadership-wise.
“I think she’s a very shy person, but I think she has a lot of great ideas,” Warren said. “She has already begun to apply the lessons learned by volunteering to assist the high school softball team and our club feels she has wonderful potential.” 
Founded in 1958 by movie and television actor Hugh O’Brian, HOBY is designed “to motivate and empower individuals to make a positive difference within our global society,” according to its website. The camp’s core values are volunteerism – its “heart and soul” – integrity, excellence, diversity and community partnership. An estimated 10,000 students are involved in HOBY programs annually.
Upon entering HOBY, Koehler said, she expected to enter a formal, professional setting. While there were seminars, she found herself also participating in cheers, dances and group projects. One of these projects involved members padding, then dropping an egg without it breaking.
In the egg challenge, Koehler had some difficulty.
“I struggled telling everyone in my group what I wanted to do,” Koehler said while moving her hands about. The hand motions she explained, help slow her voice to a regular pace when talking to new people. “They already had a bunch of ideas that I agreed on, but I couldn’t really talk about it.”
She wanted to cushion the egg. The group decided to use a basket attached to a balloon to slow it down. The group won out and the egg test was successful.
According to Koehler, she’s “too shy to stand up and do something” at the moment, but group and independent projects offered by the camp have pushed her in a more outgoing direction. 
In the realm of volunteer work, she also assisted janitors in cleaning the MSU fieldhouse, which gave her more of a feel for helping others.
Overall, she said, she would recommend the camp.
“In school, you don’t really learn about leadership; they just help you and guide you along,” Koehler said. “HOBY helps you become your own individual and take action with all of what you’ve learned.”
More information on Montana HOBY may be found online at Those who wish to participate in Kiwanis, who raise funds for various youth programs throughout the year, may attend a meeting at 3 Brothers Bistro in Hardin, held at noon on Wednesdays.