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HOBY (Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership) for High School Sophomores

Updated on September 13, 2017
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She happily lives in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.


HOBY is a Great Opportunity for Sophomore High School Students

The HOBY Youth Leadership Seminar is a fantastic way for high school sophomores to learn leadership skills, service to the community, and innovative ways to help others.

History of HOBY

The HOBY program was started way back in 1958 by actor Hugh O'Brien. Mr. O'Brien had received an invitation from Dr. Albert Schweitzer to visit him at his clinic in Africa. To Dr. Schweitzer's surprise and delight, the actor did come down for a visit. He spent nine days in Africa volunteering with the Schweitzer, and a group of doctors, nurses and other volunteers all giving graciously of their time and talents to help people needed medical care. At night, Mr. O'Brien and Dr. Schweitzer would talk for hours about the condition of the world and the need for people to reach out to others. As he was preparing to leave to return to the United States, Dr. Schweitzer asked Mr. O'Brien what he planned to do with what he had observed and learned during his time there. That was the challenge that Mr. O'Brien used to create the HOBY Leadership Program for youth.

HOBY Goals

The goals of HOBY is to help youth in the United States sharpen their leadership skills and to achieve their highest potential as human beings. Those are quite lofty goals! It serves approximately 9,000 high school sophomores in the United States annually. Each of these sophomores is chosen by their high school to participate. Only one sophomore is chosen to attend the HOBY Leadership conference each year from each high school. Those considered for this honor should have some or all of the following characteristics: good oral or written communication skills, the ability to think creatively, good decision-making skills,sensitivity to the needs of others, a charismatic personality, the courage to speak out for his or her beliefs,the courage to challenge authority and participation in community service.

The goals for HOBY participants are to come away from the conference with enhanced skills in critical thinking, leadership abilities, goal setting and understanding the importance of leadership and its impact on the world.

Originally the HOBY Conference was in Los Angeles, California each year. By 1982, each state had their own conference held on a college campus within their state. The conferences last 3-4 days in June. Once the conference is completed for the participant, they have the opportunity to continue volunteering as a mentor with the HOBY program in the future.

How to Apply for HOBY

Sophomore students interested in becoming an HOBY participant should talk to their guidance counselor or career center staff at their high school in September. Applications are sent to all high schools in September of each year, and the chosen participants names must be submitted to the HOBY organization by the end of November. The number of applicants from each high school is not very high unless the guidance department is on top of their game. But also, a lot of students don't want to be bothered with the effort to apply. It is definitely worth the time to apply because winning this award and the skills they will then develop will help them in any future endeavors.

HOBY is a wonderful opportunity for those students inspired to make a difference in the world around them. Because HOBY is recognized across the nation, it also looks great on college and scholarship applications to have been an HOBY participant.

Need Helping Finding College Scholarships?

If you are a student or parent looking for help with scholarships for college, you will find the book below to be a great help. I used this not only for my own daughter but for my work running the career center in a high school I worked at helping students prepare for college.


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    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 5 years ago from Georgia


      Thanks for commenting. I don't think many high school students are aware that this great opportunity exists. The students I know that have gone have really gotten a lot out of the program, so I thought I would spread the word!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this useful information. As a long time youth volunteer and organizer, I can tell you how important this is