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Nieland to attend national leadership conference

By Staff | Mar 22, 2008

Derek Nieland will go to Washington, D.C., for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference April 13-18. At right is Derek’s father, Mike. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

Due to the leadership he has shown in and outside the classroom, Derek Nieland, 12, an Estherville Middle School seventh-grader, will be making a trip to Washington, D.C., April 13-18 to attend the 2008 Junior National Young Leaders Conference.

Derek was recommended by ELC Middle School Principal Mike Peterson. In his notification letter, Nieland was told that he was being selected because he is “an outstanding individual who has achieved academic excellence and possesses strong leadership potential.”

On the first day of the conference, Derek will attend a leadership group meeting that will address such traits as character, communication, goal setting, problem solving, respect, and teamwork.

Day two will take the group to Philadelphia and Independence National Historic Park and The National Constitution Center.

The third day they will go to Harpers Ferry, W.V., where participants will study the impact of the Civil War. The day will also include lunch at the historic Hilltop House.

On day four, the group will tour Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Korean War Veterans Memorial. They will also have a photo opportunity at the White House, tour the National Portrait Gallery, and visit Capitol Hill.

On day five, participants will hold leadership group meetings and have a sleepover and leadership activities at the Maryland Science Center.

The final day, day six, they will again have leadership group meetings and close with a commencement ceremony.

Derek had to raise $2,000 to help defray the cost of the trip, but he said it is really all worth it and he’s excited about this new experience. It will be the farthest he’s ever been away from home.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a good experience,” Derek said.

He hopes to learn leadership skills that will help later in life. As an adult, he hopes to excel at whatever he decides to do and to help others in the community.

Part of the conference will be to present a role model that has influenced him. Derek’s choice for a role model was Adam Haluska, former Iowa Hawkeye basketball standout who was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets and then traded to the Houston Rockets before he recently came onboard with the Iowa Energy, an NBA developmental league. To top it off, Haluska was an Academic All American. Derek had the chance to interview Haluska two weeks ago.