Developing leaders for communities and community-based organizations through education and training has become one of the most valuable activities in many communities, especially in most rural areas.
Leadership development programs provide the basis for improving the well-being of people in their communities. Similarly, it is based on the idea that citizens can work together to solve community problems and to effect positive change in communities they live in.
The benefits of community leadership include: Networking (get to know people) contacts and interact, increased community volunteerism and involvement in community, effective decision-making and the enhancement leadership skills and the ability to take on more leadership roles on issues that affect community.
Objectives of Leadership Fayette are: to create an in-depth understanding and knowledge of community assets, to create an in-depth understanding of the community issues, to enhance/develop individual leadership skills and knowledge that will allow personal and community growth, to motivate and encourage active participation and involvement in community civic affairs and to increase the importance of understanding diversity in community issues. This year’s class topics include: Real Colors; Discover your Distinctive Personality Type; Strength-Finder Leadership Styles; Communication/Public Speaking/Presentation Skills; Group/Team Building and Challenges; Government Day (County Month – City, Local, State & Federal Government); Industry Day (Economic Development); and Human & Social Services Day.
In addition, participants will embark on community tours to businesses and other important places in the community. Participants will also be divided into two separate groups; each group will identify a community challenge or problem; tap needed resources, design strategies and implement them to address the challenge or problem. Teams are encouraged to study the community comprehensive land use strategic plan to identify community challenges/problems and use the suggested guideline to help them.
Kristy Bowers, community development director for The Ranch of Opportunity, Leadership Fayette alumni, presented a project that she worked on with Joy Stanforth, Brenda Landis, Lori Moore, and Erin Rickman for Leadership Fayette in 2015. She noted that the project was about the Fayette County Historical Trail, which is a part of Geocaching locations in the county.
In cooperation with the Fayette County Historical Society and Fayette Travel & Tourism, 13 different Geocache locations of historical significance were added to the geocaching app. The goal was to create something for families to do at very low cost, as well as getting out to better view Fayette County and learning about some of the history of the county. This also has brought many people from around the state to Fayette County through the geocaching trail. Upon completion of the historical trail, you can get a collector coin from the Fayette County Museum. You can simply collect it, or put it in one of the caches and track where it goes around the country or around the world. The group of five ladies came together to do something that the community as well as people outside of the community can enjoy for years to come. Talking to the group as a whole, she recommends playing to strengths and interests to come together to achieve something that can benefit Fayette County.
Dan Dean, Fayette County Commissioner, observed that “small groups of determined people can affect real change in a community.” Envision Fayette, a comprehensive land use plan, is a guide for what the community thinks Fayette County should become, or where it is heading. Working with Ohio State University students who want to be community developers, a plan was made stating what was working well in Fayette County, and what needed improvement. One change that has come about was the creation of a parks district.
The goal for Leadership Fayette is to work within small groups to keep Envision Fayette moving forward. He challenged the participants to pick a project that is near and dear to them and work on them as a way to help better improve Fayette County for future generations. The steering committee members, Whitney Gentry, Susan Dunn and Chester Murphy took turns to comment on the benefits of the program to them as previous participants and the community as a whole.
The first class will be held on April 27.