(This article originally appeared in the Omaha Jewish Press.)

On Friday, August 31, the OTYG leadership board drove to Kansas City for the annual NFTY Leadership Training Institute, a weekend program during which regional board members come together to learn the skills necessary to lead the group in the coming year.

“They learn how to write programs, how to lead groups, facilitate discussions, write evaluations, encourage participation,” OTYG Youth Advisor Amy Katz said. “It’s important for them to learn how to lead.”

The LTI weekend is divided up between leadership training with regional counterparts and brainstorming for the coming year.

“Part of the time you’re working with your regional counterpart, who teach you how to do your job and how to work as a board, and the other part is working together with your board,” OTYG President Hannah Perry said. “We had time as a board where we were planning things for what we want to do this semester.”

Perry, who has attended LTI before, said the training is “invaluable, especially for first-time board members, because it teaches you how to do your position and it also teaches you what they’re looking for from your position.”

Among first-time board members who went to Kansas City was Abby Hack, Co-Vice President of Membership, who came away from LTI excited and encouraged about the coming year.

“Our board was actually one of the few boards that didn’t have any problems,” Hack said. “We all felt really good about our board, because we’re all so close and work together really well and get our stuff done on time. That was one of our strengths.”

Hack also mentioned the “need to work on getting more members.

“A lot of the other youth groups, because they have more Jews in their cities, are a lot bigger, but also are so connected,” she said. “I’m hoping we can pull more members in and really make sure people feel involved and a part of something. That’s how I felt at LTI.”

Justin Norton, who plans services for OTYG as its Religious and Cultural Vice President, enjoyed meeting with his regional counterpart. In addition to learning “how to integrate religious aspects into [OTYG] programs,” Norton also learned about what he called a “Play-Doh service,” in which everyone is given Play-Doh and, while a story is being told during the service, you’re supposed to shape and mold the Play-Doh based on the story and how it makes you feel.

OTYG Vice President of Communication and Visual Jacob Arnold learned a lot about the technical aspects of his position. He learned how to take and upload pictures, and to make presentations and movies. He looks forward to being able to make scrapbooks and slideshows for the Temple Israel website.

Overall, the OTYG board came away from LTI with enthusiasm, something Hannah Perry thought was lacking.

“What I was really looking for at LTI was getting the board as a whole excited for the year,” Perry said. “The summer is always a little slow leading up to [LTI], but after LTI things come really fast with High Holidays, and we’re hosting fall conclave. I think the best thing our board got out of LTI was getting ready and pumped up to go and do all these things.”