The USPC National Youth Congress (NYC)is a program that recognizes outstanding upper level members (H-B through A) with an extraordinary opportunity for growth and development. Each year, this national conference of selected youth members and accomplished Pony Club alumni is held two days prior to the Equine Symposium and Convention Hosted by USPC. Youth delegates to the NYC are between 18-23 years of age, nominated by their clubs/centers and selected by their regions based on the qualities in the USPC mission statement, as well as leadership and volunteerism within and outside of Pony Club.
What the National Youth Congress Does
At the conference, NYC delegates come together with USPC Academy of Achievement alumni to focus on personal development and work together as a group on proposals to present to the Board of Governors. They also enjoy plenty of team building, leadership training, and opportunities to network with USPC graduates, alumni and leaders.
The USPC Academy of Achievement recognizes Pony Club alumni for being outstanding in their chosen fields of expertise. They come from diverse backgrounds and are selected for what their unique experiences can bring to the National Youth Congress.
The NYC provides numerous benefits for the selected Pony Club members. It rewards them for leadership in their clubs/regions by giving them opportunities to network with others who share their love of and experience with horses. It exposes them to wider experiences outside of Pony Club by introducing them to outstanding alumni from all walks of life. It gives them opportunities to develop leadership skills through participation in a national forum.
Coming Full Circle with the National Youth Congress
Jennifer Goss (H-A, Berks Pony Club, Eastern Pennsylvania Region) has a unique perspective of this program as a member of the inaugural NYC, an Academy of Achievement alumna, and current NYC committee member.
“In 1999 when I flew across the country to Seattle [for the NYC] was the first time I traveled solo in my life,” she recalls. Although she was anxious about meeting new people and rooming with girls she had never met, she says the NYC turned out to be an incredible experience for her in so many ways, and one that she is grateful to have had.
“I gained confidence from navigating travel on my own, and I met some incredible people with whom I remain in contact to this day. The Academy of Achievement members showed me, a freshman in college, that it was OK that I wasn’t choosing a career in horses. I could still continue to enjoy them in my life among other pursuits.”
Today, Goss says those messages continue to resonate as part of her day-to-day life. In 2015, things came full circle as Goss herself was inducted into the Academy of Achievement.
“Being named a member of the Academy of Achievement reconnected me with USPC at the national level. I also had the opportunity to meet other amazing alums who came from different parts of the country and different professional fields than myself and created new friendships and connections. The best part, though, was getting to know the delegates. To see so many incredibly motivated leaders passionate about both Pony Club and changing the world really gives me hope for the future!”
Making the Connection
Since 2017, Goss has served on the NYC committee. “It’s important for me to stay connected to Pony Club despite having a very full personal and professional life,” she says. “Being a part of this committee is incredibly fulfilling because year after year, we get the chance to meet some incredible alums who are inspiring in their own ways and we also get to interact with an incredible cadre of young people whose enthusiasm is contagious. It is really a privilege to be a part of this effort.”
Current NYC committee co-chair and 2019 Academy of Achievement inductee Jenny Mattingley agrees. “It is such a great honor and experience to come back as an Academy of Achievement alum to meet the next generation of leaders coming through Pony Club and spend time learning and growing with the delegates at the National Youth Congress meetings. It’s a great way to connect across the Pony Club generations, share career/life advice, and keep on supporting USPC.”
Mattingley (C-3, Silver Stirrups Pony Club, Red River Region) knows firsthand how important that connection is. “Through every career experience I can directly tie back lessons I learned and leadership experience I gained through Pony Club,” she says.
The deadline for NYC nominations is November 15, and there may be earlier deadlines for regional nominations. Click here to learn more about the National Youth Congress and the process to become involved.