Welcome to the official website for Missouri Leadership Seminar!
MLS 2023, the 37th Missouri Leadership Seminar, will take place June 2-4th at the University of Central Missouri!
To nominate a student, please visit our Schools page.
What is Missouri Leadership Seminar?
Our mission is to empower young adults to expand their minds and be truer to themselves so they can develop into leaders who change lives and make a positive difference in their local communities and the world.
Missouri Leadership Seminar is an unforgettable weekend experience that immerses a select group of high school sophomores in an environment that brings out their inner leaders. Student ambassadors are exposed to panels of professional speakers on many of today’s most pressing issues, are encouraged to express their unique opinions in a supportive environment, and learn to lead through team-building activities. The MLS experience is free of charge to the ambassadors selected to attend.
Some testimonials from over the years:
“I love how we can all come together from across Missouri and connect in a matter of two days… we all share a common characteristic no matter how different we are and that’s to lead… This seminar is amazing, and I hope to talk to the friends I made, for a long time. It was truly a mind-boggling experience.” – Ambassador Matthew Harper, 2016 Seminar
“MLS is something I wish everyone had the chance to attend. Take the opportunity you have been given and do something great in your community with what you learn! As a Missouri Leadership Seminar ambassador, you learn leadership through hands-on experiences instead of lectures. I liked the Diversity Panel the most because it showed that although we all look and act so much alike we are all so different at the same time. No matter where you come from or what your story is you are in an atmosphere where no one will judge you and that is what makes it so great. Don’t second guess yourself on attending the seminar because you’ll miss out on so much!” – Ambassador Lauren Cox, 2016 Seminar
“I wanted to let you know that our daughter left that seminar with such enthusiasm and positivism, and I can’t thank Missouri Leadership enough. Sometimes kids need just a little motivation and confidence to know that they can make a difference. Our daughter struggles with that confidence daily, but I truly believe after this seminar, she feels she can conquer the world. She has made some friends that will hopefully last a lifetime.” – Parent, 2013 Seminar
What happens at MLS?
1. ACTIVITIES AND LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
There are many team building and group activities at MLS. From games and fun challenges to group discussions and projects, team building activities at seminar allow students to interact with other ambassadors and express opinions in a small group setting. Students have ample opportunity to lead at seminar. By expressing opinions in facilitated discussions, volunteering to lead group challenges, or introducing activities to the seminar as a whole, students have the opportunity to grow leadership skills as they feel comfortable.
Each year the MLS Board of Directors plans out several panels for seminar on current topics. Professionals with varying points of view are invited to come speak to the ambassadors on the panel topic. During small group break-outs, Ambassadors get the opportunity to interact with each panelist and ask questions.
During Vocation Conversation, ambassadors are invited to speak with professionals from a wide range of occupations. Ambassadors have the opportunity to learn about the professionals’ fields of work and ask the Pro questions in a small group setting. Ambassadors rotate several times so they can meet and converse with several different professionals during the course of the catered dinner. Some of the careers covered in previous years include:
MLS is an organization focused on giving back.
A charity event is always part of MLS. Last year ambassadors worked in groups to make and donate blankets to the local veteran’s home.
Every junior staff member who returns to seminar has completed 25 hours of community service. MLS continues to encourage ambassadors and alumni to volunteer throughout the year. Besides requiring hours of community service, MLS also sets up year-long volunteering activities. Some of the things we have done recently include:
Missouri Veterans Home
St. Louis Food Bank
The Optimists: MLS has a close bond with Optimist Clubs. Many of our staff members are Optimist Club members, and much of MLS’s funding comes from charitable donations from the Optimists. MLS alumni have several opportunities throughout the year to volunteer at Optimist Club Functions, including helping raise funds for other Optimist Events outside of MLS.
3. PERSONAL GROWTH
MLS embraces the opportunity to make strangers into chosen family. However, for every opportunity given at Missouri Leadership Seminar focused on community, there is time or an activity focused on self-reflection. Ambassadors will be given tools and prompts to reflect on their personality, goals, and life background. Every year, we are thanked for bringing issues and shared struggles to light in a safe space. In our society that constantly preaches fear and thrives off of personal insecurity, we proudly do the opposite. Even so, all of the growth is truly due to the ambassadors’ integrity and vulnerability. We hold the belief that “you get out of seminar what you put into seminar,” and as staff, we are never disappointed by the outcome.
As sophomores in high school, ambassadors already face a lot of hardship, adversity, and uncertainty. We seek to make ambassadors’ transitions into higher education, the workforce, and their adult lives as leaders less intimidating. Spending a (free) weekend at seminar means hundreds of things, but it also means building confidence in talking with people who come from all different backgrounds. Walking away from seminar, ambassadors will have met peers from all over the state, gotten to know their older group leaders well, and been able to chat and begin connections with BOD (our Board of Directors), MLS alumni, and particularly our Vocation Conversation professionals. Future volunteer and job opportunities, career advice, and new role models/mentors are potentially some of the later benefits of our ambassadors’ immersion into the MLS atmosphere. Many of our ambassadors come from small rural schools, making our experience rare.