FAIRMONT - Leadership Martin County has been praised extensively by past participants who enjoyed gaining a comprehensive view of eight key aspects of local life: education, economic development, government, health care, public safety, quality of life, agriculture, and culture and diversity.
Students met at 7:30 a.m. the first Wednesday of the month, hopped on a school bus, and traveled the county, running almost nonstop until 4:30 p.m.
"I feel as though I fully understand and appreciate the great potential we have as a regional center for quality living. ... What a great way to learn about the community you serve in just nine action-packed days," wrote Joe Brown, superintendent of Fairmont Area Schools.
Participants like Brown clearly learned a lot, but organizers are paring back this year to keep the daily agenda from being too overwhelming. In 2012, not enough people signed up to run the program, but this year just a few spots remain.
The time, day and topics, will remain the same for the 2013-2014 program, with monthly classes from September through May, but the itinerary will include travel in the mornings, followed by leadership development sessions with Jim Krile in the afternoon. Krile is the retired director of community leadership programs for the Blandin Foundation.
"This is an unbelievable opportunity," said Bob Wallace, director of Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce, which has teamed with Riverland Community College to create Leadership Martin County.
"I'm working with Jim Krile to weave in some of the Top 20 concepts," Wallace said, referring to the Top 20 positive-thinking movement.
Applications for the leadership program are available online at www.fairmontchamber.org, or those interested may pick up an application at the Chamber office in Fairmont.
The cost of the class is $650. There are scholarships available for people who work with nonprofit organizations, and agricultural leaders in the community are providing a scholarship for someone working in an agricultural field.
Wallace is hoping for a diverse group this year.
"I've heard from so many individuals who lived their entire life and say they had no idea that's how things worked, and for people new to the area, what a way to become ingrained in the community," Wallace said.