Larry Reverman talks about how he has been influenced by other leaders he has met through service programs and how it is shaping his choices for now and the future. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Larry Reverman talks about how he has been influenced by other leaders he has met through service programs and how it is shaping his choices for now and the future. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
When Larry Reverman was selected to attend the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership conference at Butler University the summer after his sophomore year, he was simply hoping for a nice addition for his college applications.

But the event offered much more than a few lines on his resume. Reverman, 18, and now a senior at Madison Consolidated High School, credits the program for helping him discover his sense of community and inspiration for volunteering.

"To be completely honest, when I first heard the intercom announcement for it, I thought, 'Oh, that will be something great to put on a resume,' but it turned out to be so much more than that," he said. "It's not about the resume; it's really about getting out there and making a difference."

The goal of the leadership conference is to provide students - who are selected by their schools - leadership training, service-learning and motivation-building experiences.

Before leaving his first conference, Reverman was so impressed that he had already decided to go back the next year and become a junior counselor for another student. And he had already decided to challenge himself to volunteer more in the community.

He logged 113 community service hours last year and wants to log at least 100 more hours this year.

Reverman earns a lot of his service hours coordinating events for Madison's National Honor Society, where he is the president. Through the National Honor Society, Reverman often conducts canned food drives and even created a haunted trail during Halloween, giving the proceeds to cystic fibrosis research.

In addition to school groups, he recently began volunteering at the Jefferson County Animal Shelter after school. And he also tutors students in math, which he said is his favorite subject.

Reverman said he's almost certain he will attend Indiana University in the fall and study mathematics, but he would also like to enroll in courses at the campus' School of Public and Environmental Affairs in order to learn more about working for nonprofits.

"It just has so many great preparations for a career in the nonprofit industry and public works. It could lead to a lot of fulfilling careers," he said.

After college, Reverman is also considering a stint in the Peace Corps, but he said "it's pretty far off" and that he does not want to make a decision about his career so early.

In the meantime, he hopes to encourage more area students to get involved at an earlier age. Reverman would like to see more opportunities for students to volunteer well before high school.

Because of the conferences, Reverman said he now thinks of leadership less as a sense of authority and more as a sense of action in the community.

"There's a large misconception that leadership is management. It's not at all. It's leading by doing," he said.

He plans to continue attending the conference in the future in hopes of inspiring other students to discover their sense of community.

"I had a great junior counselor in my group, and I knew that I wanted to give that back," he said. "Because if I'm able to go back and do that for those kids, collectively, they'll make a bigger impact than I will by myself."