Jr. REAL events builds community leaders in SD high schools

Motivational speaker and author Holly Hoffman of Eureka passes the torch to juniors and seniors from Woonsocket, Wessington Springs and Sanborn Central Tuesday, Oct. 8, as part of the SD Farmers Union Junior REAL Development Program.

Holly Hoffman knows a thing or two about being a survivor. The Eureka native caught national attention on CBS’s Survivor Nicaragua, as the last woman standing in her tribe. This past week she stood in front of high school students from Woonsocket, Wessington Springs and Sanborn Central as part of the SD Farmers Union Junior Rural Economic and Leadership (Jr. REAL) Development Program.
“When you face your fears, you gain strength and courage,” Hoffman told the young crowd. “Do not let your past mistakes define your future.” Hoffman is a mother of three, motivational speaker, author and medical student and shared how her rural upbringing shaped her personal ambitions.
The Junior REAL program, now in its fifth year, invests in high school juniors and seniors and presents a comprehensive one-day seminar to students from Woonsocket, Wessington Springs and Sanborn Central. Student participants engage in hands-on exercises while learning techniques to articulate civic responsibility. The conference focuses on leadership development, credit issues and identity theft, life skills and motivation.
Jr. REAL spurs young people to give back and help out in their own communities and build their leadership skills. The program is specifically focused on building young leaders in rural South Dakota.
Motivational speaker and trainer John Beranek, of Miller, shared the microphone and reminded the youth about community service. “When you decide to do something good for someone, they are not always ready to receive that help. You must be careful not to shame them and always be respectful.” Beranek cited his experiences from the Pay It Forward group he founded to anonymously give to those in need. “Helping out others is incredibly rewarding.”

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