What is HOBY?

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) is a non-profit organization committed to inspiring and developing our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. Founded in Los Angeles, California in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian, HOBY programs provide youth selected by their schools to participate in unique leadership training, service-learning and motivation-building experiences. HOBY also provides adults with opportunities to make a significant impact on the lives of youth by volunteering. Over 4,000 committed HOBY volunteers plan and execute the programs each year, serving both at the local HOBY affiliate level and on HOBY’s Board of Trustees. Due to the selfless efforts of volunteers and the contributions of generous donors, nearly 9,000 students participate in HOBY programs annually. Today, over 375,000 proud alumni make HOBY stronger than ever. HOBY alumni are leaders in their schools and communities, throughout the United States and the world, making a difference for others through service.

What is the purpose of the state leadership seminar?

The seminar supports the primary objectives of Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership: motivate and empower individuals to make a positive difference within our global society through understanding and action based on effective and compassionate leadership; to interface these potential leaders with recognized leaders in business, industry, government, science, education, and the professions through give and take workshops; to stimulate opportunities for these young people to demonstrate their leadership abilities when they return home for betterment of community and country.

How are students selected to attend a HOBY Leadership Seminar?

HOBY seeks students who are outstanding communicators, critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, strong decision-makers, sensitive to others, have a charismatic personality, have the courage to speak out and challenge, have an interest in community service. Each school in Virginia is invited to nominate outstanding sophomores based on their leadership potential and according to the school’s own criteria to attend the HOBY Virginia Leadership Seminar.

Sophomore students also have the opportunity to be selected through the Community Nomination program. Community Nomination is an outreach program that allows organizations to register through HOBY’s website rather than being nominated by a student’s school. Every year, countless students, parents, and HOBY partner organizations want to register students for the Seminar but encounter obstacles. For example, a high school may not participate in HOBY or a new school counselor is unaware of/unwilling to participate in the program. This also ensures as many students as possible are able to have the life-changing HOBY experience.

What do students receive by attending their state leadership seminar?

Known as HOBY’s flagship program, the Leadership Seminar is designed for seminar attendees, or HOBY Ambassadors as they are called, to recognize their leadership talents and apply them in becoming effective, ethical leaders in their home, schools, workplace and community. The high level of energy, encouragement and motivation as well as the interaction with peers, panelists and volunteers are important elements in nurturing the students’ future leadership roles. In addition, students participate in hands-on leadership activities and meet state leaders in such as areas as business, government, education, media and the non-profit sector. Ambassadors will also participate in a service learning community project. Throughout the seminar, students build new friendships and networks for the future.

What are the benefits after attending a HOBY Leadership Seminar?

Many Ambassadors return home with a new vitality, a greater sense of purpose, and a new set of resources that they can use to make their schools and communities better places in which to live. With this new enthusiasm, HOBY Ambassadors can create a ripple effect of social responsibility in their communities. Ambassadors are asked to become part of HOBY’s commitment to the “President’s Summit for America’s Future.” By undertaking a community service project(s) involving at least 100 hours, they have the opportunity to join 8,000 other HOBY Ambassadors in making a difference in their schools, communities, places of worship, or other “environments.” Alumni can continue their involvement by attending Alumni functions, volunteering for the annual Leadership Seminar, or volunteering at a one-day Community Leadership Workshop (CLeW) held in local communities. HOBY Seminar attendance can be added to resumes and college applications. Alumni are eligible to receive Ambassador Leadership Scholarships from various colleges and universities to help fund higher education through graduate school.

Who pays for the seminar?

The 2024 registration fee for a student to attend the seminar is as follows:

$275 – Early bird registration fee from September 25th, 2023 – December 8th, 2023.
$325 – Registration fee from December 9th, 2023 – April 12th, 2024, when registration will close.

In most instances, the school covers all or at least a part of the registration fee; sometimes this fee is paid by the parent or a cooperating organization. The all-volunteer Virginia committee raises the additional state seminar expenses for room & board, copies & postage, and program supplies (approximately $200 per student) from generous sponsorships from the private sector, service organizations, and individuals.

What kind of supervision is provided at the leadership seminar?

The seminar is chaperoned by qualified adult male and female Facilitators who stay at the facility 24 hours a day. Most Facilitators were HOBY Ambassadors and now volunteer their time. Groups of 10-12 Ambassadors are organized into small teams led by an adult Facilitator. Recent HOBY Alumni are assigned as assistants or on the Operations team.

If necessary, how may I contact HOBY during the seminar weekend?

Parents, friends, and family members are discouraged from calling students during the seminar due to the disruption caused to workshops, speakers, and activities.  In case of an emergency during the seminar, your parent/guardian may contact our Director of Ambassador Relations. No outside guests are allowed in or around the seminar facility except for the Closing Ceremony.

What transportation arrangements have been made?

You are responsible for your transportation to and from the seminar.  You will be asked to include all details of your itinerary on the Pre-Seminar Materials, which will be sent out prior to the seminar. If other schools in your area are sending a student, you may be able to make your own carpool arrangements.

What are the accommodations like?

All HOBY participants are housed on-campus in a residence hall.

Males and females are housed in separate wings of the building. Each student will be assigned to a room with another student of the same gender.

You will need bring all your own bedding (sheets, pillows, or sleeping bag). The dorm beds are XL Twin beds. Please do not forget your towel(s)/washcloth(s), and toiletries. Everyone will receive nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

What if I am unable to attend the seminar?

If circumstances arise that prevent you from attending the entire seminar, including overnight, we would like to give another student the opportunity to attend. Please inform the person at your school who selected you, and follow up with a message to the Director of Ambassador Relations.

Where and when is the seminar held?

The 2024 HOBY Virginia Seminar will be held May 31-June 2, 2024 at James Madison University.

Who may I contact should I have additional questions?

Additional questions or concerns should be directed to the Director of Ambassador Relations.

What happens if I have a conflict for that weekend?

Due to liability and fairness to all students, all participants must remain on site all weekend for the entire Seminar, which includes spending the night Friday and Saturday nights.  If you find that this prevents you from attending, please notify the Director of Ambassador Relations and your school counselor immediately so that an alternate may be selected to attend.

Where should I go when I arrive?

Please follow signs to the residence hall where you will be housed. You will see HOBY signs and members of our staff near the entrance. Once you check-in, you will given your room assignment, key, meal card, and be directed to your dorm room to drop off your bags, and then meet your Facilitator and team members.

What kind of program is planned?

During your HOBY Leadership Seminar, many dynamic leaders—all volunteers from the fields of business, education, government, and other professions—will address aspects of our changing world and the challenges future leaders will confront. The program will not promote any specific political party, religion, or way of thinking, but is designed to develop critical thinking skills by actively involving participants in discussions and informal debate. During the seminar, you will be asked to undertake a community service project(s) involving at least 100 hours during the year following your seminar, to make a difference in your school, community, place of worship, or other environment where you see a need. The program also includes outstanding speakers, leadership activities, and social events.

Will meals be provided?

Everyone will receive nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  The dining hall offers a wide variety of choices in food so it can accommodate anyone’s special dietary requirements.  Your first meal will be lunch on Friday so it is important that you eat breakfast before you arrive on campus.

Will I need cash during the seminar?

Your housing, meals, and snacks will all be provided. However, there will be a HOBY Store open at various times throughout the seminar. If you would like to purchase HOBY items, you can do so at these times. Cash, checks, credit cards, and Venmo are accepted.

What if I take medication while I am at the seminar?

Please provide information about your medication on the Medical History Records Form and bring the Physician Medication Verification Form with you to the seminar (documents are included in your registration forms). Make sure to read and comply with the Policy for Use of Medication During a HOBY Event.

What should I wear at the seminar?

  • Dress is casual and comfortable throughout the weekend, however, be respectful of the fact that we will have professional speakers visiting the seminar.  You will be provided a HOBY t-shirt at the seminar and will be asked to wear that t-shirt on Saturday.  We recommend jeans, slacks, or shorts rather than skirts, as we are involved in some group activities.  Dress for Sunday’s Closing Ceremony is “dress-up” or “Sunday best.”
  • The meeting areas and dorm rooms can be cool, so it is a good idea to bring a sweater, sweatshirt, or jacket for the weekend. We will also be walking outside, so bringing a raincoat and/or umbrella is a good idea in case of rain. Shower shoes are recommended for the bathroom.


Can my parents attend on Sunday?

Your family is invited to attend our Closing Ceremony on the Sunday of the seminar. The Closing Ceremony will be held on campus. Additional information regarding the Closing Ceremony will be sent at a later date.