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Idaho Enterprise

Aubree Palmer wins Gold at FCCLA National Leadership Conference

In April, local high school student Aubree Palmer won a top Gold Award at the state leadership conference of the FCCLA organization in Boise, which qualified her to compete in the national conference in San Diego last month.  After a competition involving other winning students from across the county, Palmer again took Gold in the STAR Event, Repurpose and Redesign.  Her winning project involved a “Fast Fashion” corset belt made from dog food bags and other household items, as well as a crotcheted handbag made from Walmart bags.

The FCCLA is a national organization, whose acronym stands for “Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America.”  The organization is dedicated to training students for success in endeavors, future fields and pursuits they plan to pursue, by providing solid foundations of goal-orientation, planning, and leadership.  The various projects throughout the program are directed toward reinforcing involvement with family and community, as well as practical applications to career paths.

“For most, FCCLA is about starting good habits for future responsibilities. For me, however, it resurfaced these good traits,” Palmer said. “I have always loved public speaking, service, and just socializing. FCCLA was honestly one of the best parts of my freshman experience. Whenever things got complicated and challenging, I always knew I could turn to FCCLA, whether it was to work on my project, or just be social with the people in my chapter.”

As is the case for many organizations, such as FFA and 4-H, Aubree’s experience with FCCLA began as a family tradition.  “My two older siblings both participated in FCCLA.  It was a given that when I entered high school, I too would join.  However, I never expected it to be this rewarding.  At first, I viewed it as a club where I would go to a monthly meeting and put it on a college application, but as I joined together with the rest of my chapter, I fell in love with FCCLA.  I love feeling proactive and helpful.  Not only is FCCLA beneficial to the community, but I loved being able to go and compete in my star event.”

Palmer’s particular event involved the idea of sustainability in clothing design.  “At the time, I was addicted to shopping, or to be more specific, fast fashion shopping. ‘Fast fashion’ is cheap clothing made to fulfill a trend that might be going around. I had heard that fast fashion was harmful and may be using unorthodox ways of producing these products, but never really gave it a thought as I have never seen the effects of fast fashion. As I researched, I found that in some parts of the world, nearly 10,000 items come from fast fashion and are loaded into landfills every five minutes! I decided to make an underbust corset (which was something I wanted to buy at the time) and a tote bag. I did this to not only fulfill my star event project requirements but to also show my part in reducing fast fashion. My idea of making the underbust corset was influenced by a Youtuber I watch who made a dress out of chicken feed bags. As far as the tote bag, I have been crocheting for almost 8 years and stumbled upon a rug my grandma Palmer had made using plastic bags. I combined my love for fashion and my newfound love for making sustainable choices into one project.”

At competitions, students were judged on their ability to organize, plan, create, and present their projects, as well as launch a business plan for their items. The presentation element is significant, as it allows judges to evaluate the students’ confidence and communication skills, as well as their rationale for their projects.

Due to the large number of attendees at the conference, the awards ceremonies were divided up by individual states, which Palmer noted created a less intimidating environment.  Nevertheless, it was still a unexpectedly suspenseful moment for her.

“Honestly, the award meeting is a humorous memory of mine,” Palmer said. “I had walked in late to my award meeting, and quite frankly had no idea what was going on. The state of Idaho had its meeting room which I am almost glad for. All 7000 FCCLA members from across the nation would have been nerve-wracking to even walk in front of. Most of what was being said was just names and medals that people had gotten. So for example, John Doe, Silver. Most medals that were called were bronze and silver. I was certain I must have gotten bronze or silver due to not having an email or confirmation that I had gotten gold. So even before I got the award I was starting to feel a little disappointed with myself. From top Gold in the state of Idaho scoring an almost perfect score of 99.3 to bronze or silver, is, to say the least, a bit of let down. Finally, when they got to my star event I was hoping for at least silver. So you can imagine my astonishment when I heard the words, ‘Aubree Palmer, Gold.’ It was honestly an indescribable experience to feel the whole room of Idaho national competitors clap and be proud of me.”

With regard to the conference itself, she explained “Above all, my favorite part of the National Leadership Conference was the people. I meet amazing, hard-working, funny people. I'm not sure how or why, but I seemed to attract soon-to-be seniors and juniors. We would exchange which year of high school we would be going into and most often they would mistake me for a senior or junior which I found hilarious. We would crowd the streets of downtown San Diego with our red blazers. Red for FCCLA symbolizes strength, determination, and courage. When we would all gather at the gates of the conference center, it was a sea of red, and anyone who walked through it was Moses.”

She also explained that part of the excitement of the trip was traveling so far out of town and experiencing a whole new environment.  San Diego, a city of millions, is a big change from the friendly confines of Malad.  “As far as California goes,” Palmer said, “I had what best is described as a transitional period of emotions. When I first arrived in San Diego, there was this totally weird thing called perfect weather. The weird part is how it stayed that way the whole time I was there! At first, it was a bit unnerving how everyone was unbelievably fast-paced, and so close together. The first night was a bit uncomfortable being that my closest neighbor was not 2 miles away, but rather 2 yards away. Don't even get me started on walking wherever you want! Everything that I could ever want or need was no less than two miles away! By the end of my trip, I have to admit, I sort of love California. My mom and I visited the beautiful beaches, Sea World, Hotel del Coronado, and more. But even just going to the convention center (which by the way I kid you not is like 3 miles long) made me feel like once again I was being proactive. I think the fast-paced life is for me.”

Down the road, Palmer is keeping her options open for what she might like to do professionally.  “As far as career choices, I've never really been sure. Attorney, Architect, and a couple of others have been my interests in the past, and circle around quite often. Sometimes I think about being a public speaker, but I have never really researched this, and wouldn't know where to start.”

For the present, though, Aubree is looking forward to her upcoming year in town, and what she hopes to accomplish at school and in the community.  “As much as I loved and was excited about my experience in California, I am maybe a little more excited for this upcoming year. I will be Malad High School Chapter FCCLA's Vice President. Not only this, but I will also be a district officer for FCCLA! Not only will I be involved in FCCLA, but also in The Mayor's Youth Council, where I will serve as the Public Relations officer! I am also planning on being in the drama club, doing cross country, and hopefully expanding my view in many other ways as well.”

Aubree was able to raise enough money to attend the conference through amazing contributions by her High School FCCLA club, teachers, faculty, community and especially through the student body support during her daily bake sale. Aubree and her family wish to give special thanks to Shantel Tavoian for her time and support to Aubree in the FCCLA program and competitions and a special thanks to fellow students who spent countless hours helping her in baking and helping to raise money to fundraise for this outstanding experience.  "I hope that through this experience, I can help more students catch the vision of joining FCCLA and learn of the great benefits it presents to both family and community," she said.