In the field of public health, there’s nothing quite like the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo. The world’s largest conference of public health professionals, the Annual Meeting welcomes thousands of practitioners from around the world to report the latest science, swap best practices and connect with new colleagues. But beyond the countless learning opportunities, the Annual Meeting is a place where science meets storytelling and evidence meets action. It’s a good bet that most — if not all — people leave an APHA Annual Meeting with a revitalized passion for public health.

group of students pose for photoAt APHA, we want to share this inspirational experience with as many public health students as possible. And that’s what the APHA Leadership Challenge is all about. Launched in 2011, the Challenge raises scholarship funds to help public health students attend the APHA Annual Meeting. To date and thanks to donations from APHA members, we’ve awarded more than 120 student scholarships, which help cover registration and travel expenses.

At the APHA Annual Meeting, students experience the diverse scope of public health practice, learn from seasoned practitioners, meet potential mentors, and connect with fellow students and young professionals from across the country. They can get active in the APHA Student Assembly, the country’s largest student-led public health organization, and hopefully find a lifelong home within the APHA community. All students attending a U.S. college or university are eligible to apply for the scholarships. After attending the Annual Meeting, scholarship recipients submit essays about their experiences, which are published in a special edition of the Student Assembly newsletter.

If you’re looking for ways to support the next generation of public health leaders, the APHA Leadership Challenge is a perfect fit. In fact, a handful of APHA leaders, including former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, have already committed $20,000 in matching funds — that means your $10 donation becomes $20, $50 becomes $100, and $100 becomes $200.

Your Leadership Challenge donation has a direct and potentially transformative impact: It supports students in finding their place and their voice in the world of public health. In addition, your donation supports APHA in engaging the newest members of the public health workforce — their innovative ideas and fresh perspectives are vital to ensuring that APHA remains a leading advocate for the nation’s health.

“The Leadership Challenge is important to me because when I was a student, the APHA Annual Meeting really taught me about the breadth and diversity of public health,” said APHA member and leader Lyndon Haviland, DrPH, MPH, who founded the Challenge in 2011. “Supporting the next generation of public health leadership is the single most important thing APHA can do.”

Visit APHA to learn more about donating to the APHA Leadership Challenge, email development@apha.org or call 202-777-2486.

2014 APHA Leadership Challenge scholarship recipients at the APHA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Photo by Natalie McGill/courtesy The Nation's Health