More than 7,000 nationwide members, advisers, alumni, and guests of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) gathered in Nashville, Tenn., July 7-11 for the 2013 National Leadership Conference. Hannah Bernhardt, a 2013 graduate of South Side High School in Bee Branch, was among them.

This year’s student-originated theme for the annual national meeting was "Discover Your Voice." Throughout the five-day convention, participants examined and discussed several critical issues, including family, school and community violence prevention, physical as well as financial fitness, future career exploration and countless community service projects.

A number of relevant youth issues, such as the changing roles of men and women in the home and workplace, leadership, and obesity prevention were also explored at the meeting through presentations, workshops, and youth sessions. Hannah worked with other FCCLA members and advisers in Arkansas, learning how to encourage others to discover their strengths, motivate members to target career goals, and initiate a plan to ignite youth leadership in the community.

After participating in and winning District and State STAR Events (Students Taking Action with Recognition), Hannah went on to compete in the National STAR Events at this convention. She competed in the event called Recycle and Redesign, where she made bracelets, wind chimes, key racks, and money clips out of recycled silverware. She then donated her proceeds to the March of Dimes to help out pregnant women and parents with a child that was born prematurely. Hannah and her recycling project won a gold medal out of over 50 competitors.

Also at the meeting, a donation of $85,639.88 was presented to Share Our Strength from National FCCLA to fight childhood hunger.