Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, who became a household name after her widely publicized recovery by U.S. special operations forces, is set to speak at this weekends West Virginia Student Service and Civic Engagement Conference at Lakeview Golf Resort&Spa in Morgantown.

The annual event hosted by West Virginia Universitys Center for Civic Engagement joins students with top leaders from service-learning and political organizations from around the state for three days of presentations, forums, hands-on service and workshops on topics ranging from political involvement to how to plan a successful service event.

Activities get under way at 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 22) with remarks by Vicki Smith, a correspondent for The Associated Press. The speaker lineup also includes state Sen. John Unger II, WVU alumnus and the Universitys 24th Rhodes Scholar; Jessica Amburgey, National Youth CouncilYouth Service America member; and Jim Clinton, executive director of the Southern Growth Policies Board.

The theme of this years conference isMove MountainsDiscover Whats Inside,said Kimberly Colebank, director of the Center for Civic Engagement.

The whole idea is to share ideas and service projects,she said,with the ultimate goal being to energize young people and make a difference.

Throughout the weekend, participants will be able to network with state and national civic leaders, learn ways to become civically engaged and participate in professional development activities.

Were especially pleased to welcome Jessica Lynch, who received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for her service to our country,Colebank said.She founded the Jessica Lynch Foundation in 2003 to help children who have had a parent die while in military service.

Another goal of the foundation is to help the citizens of Wirt County and West Virginia.

Her story is one of true inspiration and the American spirit,Colebank said.

Lynch will discuss her foundation and experiences at noon Saturday (Feb. 23). Other conference highlights include Saturdays Youth Service Gala from 7-10 p.m. (guest speaker TBA ) and Sundays community service project.

The conference is sponsored by West Virginia Campus Compact, the West Virginia University Environmental Conservation Awareness Now (WE CAN ) program and GTR Labs, with support from the WVU Office of the Provost.

For a complete rundown of events, speaker bios and workshop descriptions, go to