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My Journey as a Leader

by Kayla Wagner, Central District Field Crew Leader/ AmeriCorps Member

Throughout high school, I found myself drawn to leadership roles. My first experience as a leader was being captain during my senior year for my high school swim team. We had to write a speech, perform it in front of the team, and be voted in as a captain. I remember staying up late making sure my speech was true to my heart. Becoming captain was one of my biggest joys because the reason I wanted to be captain was to cheer on and support my team. I wanted to lead for them. And to this day, my favorite memories of being captain are the ones where I am screaming at the top of my lungs to cheer for every girl on my team during swim meets.

Leadership has a complicated meaning in our world. Phrases like “You are a natural leader” and “You are born to lead” seem to coincide with the talk of leadership, which can form a barrier for many people. There is no magical ability or superpower to being a leader. All it takes is the drive, determination, and passion to be a leader. I firmly believe that ANYONE can be a leader. A title that calls a person a leader is just that. A title. That is what I want people to understand. A leader can still make mistakes. They are not above anyone else. However, their actions as a leader carry more weight, good or bad.

I want to be a leader to guide and inspire others. To help them find their passions and chase their dreams with determination. I want to be their mentor. And that is my goal as a crew leader this year. I am grateful to have come back for a second year as a crew leader. This year, I am grateful to Conservation Corps for giving me my first leadership role in a professional setting. I am excited to learn alongside my crew members and discover who I am as a leader.