Six members of the Wessington Springs FCCLA chapters joined over 8,600 Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) members, advisers, alumni, and guests from across the nation in Anaheim, CA for the 2019 National Leadership Conference (NLC) June 30 - July 4. 
“The conference was an incredible opportunity for Wessington Springs members to develop leadership skills by attending a multitude of workshops and training programs,” said adviser Charlotte Mohling. 
Mohling said that students listened to well-known motivational speakers and were able to confer with the FCCLA National Executive Council. Members explored career paths, attended leadership trainings, networked with members from across the country attending the conference learning new ways to “BElieve in YOUrself”.
South Dakota FCCLA state finalists had the opportunity to represent the state association on the national level in several Competitive Events. 
“Wessington Springs FCCLA Chapters are pleased to announce four members participated in STAR Events bringing home two gold medals and two silver medals,” Mohling said.  
Emma Lammey competed in Entrepreneurship STAR Event and received a silver medal. Linzi Olinger competed in Advocacy STAR Event and received a silver medal. Chasity Vissia competed in the Teach and Train STAR Event and received a gold medal. Brock Stevens competed in the Sports Nutrition STAR Event. Brock received a gold medal and the second highest score in the nation. 
Houston Mees and Linzi Olinger had the opportunity to judge the national STAR Events, Promote and Publicize FCCLA! and Teach and Train. 
Members also showcased projects in the national Showcase of Projects. Sarah Raterman accepted the national invitation to showcase the Chapter Service Project – Jessy’s Toy Box. Several chapters from other states expressed interest in starting the Jessy’s Toy Box Project in their chapters and states.
Mohling praised the students, “I am so proud of these students! They worked hard for this opportunity and represented Wessington Springs and South Dakota is a positive, respectful manner. Thank you to the Wessington Springs School Community for instilling high standards of character in our students.”
The students weren’t the only attendees from Wessington Springs that earned accolades at the national conference. Charlotte Mohling, who is in her 18th year of taking students to nationals, received the FCCLA Spirit of Advising Award. This award recognizes chapter advisers who are constantly faithful, often quietly working behind the scenes to ensure the success of their students. Mrs. Mohling was nominated by the South Dakota FCCLA State Adviser Kris Brockhoft and was one of 23 advisers across the nation to receive this award. 
The group from Wessington Springs brought home memories from a wide variety of cultural experiences including a day at the beach, an evening at Disneyland, a trip to downtown Hollywood and an exceptionally moving experience: feeling a large earthquake rattle southern California while they were in Anaheim.
For Vissia and Olinger, the earthquake experience left the students feeling unnerved and a tad homesick. “I’d rather have tornadoes than earthquakes,” Vissia said. 
“The whole trip was a great experience and a lot of fun but the earthquake made me feel ready to come home,” Olinger said. “I’m so glad I was able to go to California for the first time but coming home made me realize how safe it is here and how much I love South Dakota."
Spending a relaxing day at Huntington Beach was a favorite across the board for all students. 
Lammey said that she had never been to Disneyland or Disney World and being able to spend time at Disney made her “feel like a kid again.”
“I was so excited to see the castle. It was great to be there at night with all the lights on and see the firework show. We all made a lot of memories together,” Lammey recalled. 
For Stevens, he said meeting FCCLA members from across the nation was a big highlight for him. “I really liked trading pins with kids from other states. To us, they had such strong accents —  but then they would turn around and say we had accents,” he remembers, laughing.
Serving as a judge at the conference opened Olinger’s eyes when it comes to varying standards across different states. “We have a harder state than many others,” she said. For example, while some states can go to nationals with a score of 70 or over, South Dakota has to have over 90.”
Raterman, the youngest in the group heading into her sophomore year, said that showcasing her “Jessy’s Toy Box” project was her favorite part of the trip. “Now other chapters in other states want to start Jessy’s Toy Box where they live,” she said. “It was an awesome experience and I want to go to nationals next year. This trip makes me want to strive to make it back.”
Also joining the members in Anaheim were Crystal Lammey, Stanna Olinger, and Michelle Vissia.
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a dynamic and effective national student organization with the goal to help men and women grow as youth leaders in their communities and remain strong leaders into the future. FCCLA pursues to address personal, family, work, and societal issues and find solutions through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA reaches these goals thanks to the 200,000 members that are active within the organization. Over 5,500 chapters are spread among forty-nine state associations, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Since 1945, more than ten million youth have been involved and have grown within FCCLA.