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AHS Senior Leads Hendricks County Speakers Bureau

Life as a high school senior is a whirlwind. Amid keeping up with classes, planning for college and career, and making the most of each special experience before graduation, there's little time to do much else.

Not for Avon High School senior Katherine Langford.

While remaining fully engaged for her remaining months at AHS and serving as the Indiana DECA State President (where she was recently recognized as the Central Region Member of the Month), she's also leading the nonprofit organization she founded: the Hendricks County Speakers Bureau. To learn more, we conducted an email interview with Katherine. The following has been lightly edited.

You're a busy high school senior. What drove you — in the midst of all you have going on — to start this organization?

During the summer of 2021, I decided that my 4-H project would be public speaking. In the 4-H public speaking event that year, the speakers were directed to write and make a presentation addressing a need for your local community and making a proposal to address that need.

It seemed to me that due in part to the Pandemic, our community had developed an issue with a lack of personal connectivity. Even though our the individual communities in our county are geographically close, I also thought Hendricks County, with its 167,000 people, shouldn’t feel divided by town or school borders. 

After identifying this issue of lack of personal connectivity in our county, I started thinking about concrete ways to address the issue. Ultimately, I gave a presentation about the idea of a countywide speakers bureau where local experts could share information about their jobs, hobbies and passions to community organizations and classrooms.

This idea and my presentation were well received at both the Hendrick County Fair and the Indiana State Fair. In fact, I was fortunate enough to win 4-H Grand Champion in public speaking at both the county and state fair.

Once the State Fair was over, I decided to actually put the idea in action. So I developed a website and used lots of contacts to spread the word about the need for speakers. Once I had about 20 speakers committed to participating in the Speakers Bureau, I posted the speakers’ topics and biographies, and the website went live. I then used social media and direct outreach to community organizations to let them know about the Speakers Bureau, and how at no cost, they could find public speakers. We now have 30 speakers engaged with the Hendricks County Speakers Bureau, and the Bureau has grown nearly every month since its creation about a year ago.

Do you have any success stories? 

Gratefully, we certainly do. Several community organizations regularly utilize the Hendricks Speakers Bureau to retain free guest speakers for their periodic meetings. We now have 30 speakers available to be booked through the Bureau. The speakers and their topics are as diverse as they are interesting. For example, topics range from family travel to the history of the Saturday Evening Post to indoor gardening to astronomy to photo organization and so many more. One recent presentation that really stood out was our speaker, Joe Wilson from Danville, speaking to the Avon Rotary Club about the science, the business, and the laws of water cremation. It was one of the moments where a lot of curious people learned about a topic that they previously knew nothing about and in the process made some terrific personal connections.

Tell us about your short- and long-term goals for the HCSB.

Short-term, we hope to continue to grow our speaker list and increase awareness by our community organizations and local educators of the Speakers Bureau and encourage even more organizations and educators to take advantage of the service. My personal goal is to have 60 speakers in the bureau by next summer.

Long-term, we are committed to keeping the service free to all involved. I would also love to see other counties adopt a similar Speakers Bureau for their counties. It would really be great if counties across Indiana modeled the Hendricks County Speakers Bureau. After all, we could all use a little more connectivity.

What are your plans for college and beyond? How does HCSB fit?

In college, I plan to major in one or more social sciences, including political science, economics, sociology, or applied statistics. I have applied to several universities, but I am currently undecided as to where I will be attending. Wherever I end up for college, I hope to keep running the HCSB's website and making connections in our county. Additionally, I hope to use my knowledge from my major to continue to create and grow programs that connect communities, like the HCSB.

If someone wanted to be involved — to become a speaker or to book a speaker — how do they proceed?

Those interested should go to hcspeakersbureau.com and then click on either the “Become a Speaker” or “Contact a Speaker” tabs.  

Clicking the "Become a Speaker" will lead a new speaker to fill out a short form about themselves and their topic. I then create their bio and put it up on the website and Facebook.

To contact a speaker, browse the "speaker list" and find what speaker best fits your event. You then can click "Contact a Speaker" and fill out both the name of the speaker and date requested. Within 24 hours, you will receive an email connecting you and the requested speaker.

You can also email with any questions or requests. 

We know you're a member of the AHS Speech & Debate team. In just the last few years, this team has become a powerhouse. How can our readers learn more or witness your competitions?

During season, our Twitter @ahsspeechteam is a great place to see pictures from our weekend competitions and learn more about our team. In February, we will hold a "Showcase Night" at AHS where you can watch student's performances.

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