Thursday, July 13, 2017

EXCEL program will make a difference by developing new leaders and engaging Missourians

We are introducing the EXCCEL program to western Greene County. Here are details on the program and an application form.

What would be the goal of the program? – To develop individuals in western Greene County who can be leaders in their community or area and to also develop that important tie between a local newspaper and the development community leaders that want to find and implement community solutions.

How did this idea come about? – EXCEL is a statewide program offered by University of Missouri Extension to develop leaders. We learned this spring during statewide community conversations that rural communities are really struggling to find community leaders of any type. That is an expressed need statewide that this program is designed to respond to that need. But the program can be tailored to local resources and in western Greene County our main communities have a newspaper in common and so our program incorporates the local newspaper. There is a ton of research on the importance of newspapers and community engagement to finding answers to community issues. That is one of our goals and we think it can be accomplished while also developing leaders. Ryan Squibb and I have been talking about this type of model for several years and right now I have some funds to be able to totally underwrite the cost of launching this program. I think once we get it started it will be sustainable.

What are you most looking forward to by having this editorial board? – I’m excited to have an opportunity to learn about community issues and needs as well as networking with emerging leaders. That is part of the education and then sharing that information with the community as part of an editorial board really helps to get the entire community talking and engaged in finding solutions and working together. Sitting at home alone is not a very good way to find community issues, develop working relationships, or get engagement.

How do you think it would serve the Extension? The County/Southwest Missouri area? - MU Extension is all about engagement. This is a great example of engagement with long-term impacts. But we need people to commit to the meetings for 9 months and we need people to apply. Ideally we want 6 from Republic, 3 from Ash Grove, 3 from Willard and 2 from non-incorporated areas.

Can you describe to me how the process will work? Ryan mentioned something about small classes or workshops being conducted and from there a person would be selected to write an editorial piece on a select topic. Does this sound about right? – We will meet monthly. Program participants will work in teams to set up an engaging meeting. Each month we will focus on one community or one issue and invite existing leaders to come visit with the group, From that month’s team will write an editorial. Over the course of the entire program the entire group will develop a community event or activity to address a particular need as an ending project. We will also have a trip to Jefferson City and a meal and tour of the Greene County jail.


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