The moment finally arrived for the 21 members of the Leadership Jackson County Class of 2015 to give their project presentations and graduate.
In the 33 years of the leadership program for adults, many projects have made a lasting impact on the county.
This year’s projects can be counted among those, said Terrye Davidson, executive director of Leadership Jackson County for the past four years.
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“These all seem to be an ongoing emphasis that will ripple forward and be a benefit to our county,” Davidson said.
“In the past, sometimes, the projects have targeted a specific piece of the county. But all of these were sort of countywide,” she said. “Going forward, I hope our county realizes the strength that we have together on working to make this a great place for people to move to and work and raise families.”
Community Growth and Awareness
One of the groups decided to work with a partner to create a community calendar to promote events throughout Jackson County.
The idea came about in an open session during one of the class meetings.
“We went over several different ideas, but this is the one that came to the top that everyone felt like we could really benefit from,” said Mindy Roeder, who works at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour. “What we found is that as everyone realized this was a good forum to market events or different things that were going on in the community, there was certainly a need.”
When the group members met with the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, they found out the chamber has an online calendar, but it wasn’t being used as a community calendar with events around the county.
Now, on the chamber’s website, seymourchamber.com, there is a way for people to submit their events for the calendar.
Another group became familiar with the Jackson County United Way’s annual Rock ‘n Ready school supply program and found a way to boost funding to keep it going.
After consulting with the United Way board, the group created the first Rock ‘n Ready Race 5K Run/Walk and 10K Run. It’s set for Aug. 8 at Seymour High School and will take runners and walkers on a new route.
“Once we came up with it, it came out really good because 5Ks are really popular right now,” said Becky Capes, who works at Kocolene in Seymour. “We knew that Indiana Timing could help us out with the contract of taking care of the timing part of it. The advertising was pretty simple with the brochures. I was able to design those, and everyone approved them.”
Rock ‘n Ready helps provide a backpack and school supplies to children from low-income families throughout the county.
“I think the importance of our project was to bring more awareness to our community that there is a true need to help children,” Capes said. “The only way out of poverty is through education, so we need these kids to get a good education, and we want them to be on equal footing when they start school.”
Relying on a county native’s knowledge of local history and artistic abilities, another group created a “Moments In Time” timeline of the people and events of Jackson County in the past 200 years.
Nick Walden, a lifelong resident of Medora and the only one in his group originally from the county, helped create a 16-by-48-inch timeline display board.
“It was really neat for me because a lot of it I did know already, a lot of the basic stuff,” Walden said of local history. “But what really set it off for me, what made me like doing it, was finding out things that I didn’t know.”
It was perfect timing for the timeline, as Jackson County, Brownstown and the state of Indiana celebrate their bicentennials in 2016.
“I hope it sticks around for years,” Walden said. “My big dream of it is that 200 years from now, some group like Leadership Jackson County or whatever will use it as a first half of a 400-year timeline. I think that would be really cool.”
Youth and Education Project
The final group came up with a book for preschoolers to promote literacy and awareness by engaging children and their parents through story time.
Readers will follow the story of Jack, a boy originally from Jackson County, and Sonny, a girl new to the community, as they visit places around the county.
The group is talking to an illustrator and seeking funds to get the book published. They have submitted grants for the project, too.
Chuck Olson, who works at the Judge Robert Brown Jackson County Juvenile Home in Brownstown, said he encounters kids who can’t read, so he sees a lot of benefits from this book.
“It just creates all kinds of difficulties for (those who can’t read), and I believe that parents need to read to kids at a very early age just to afford them an opportunity,” he said. “I think it will be a fantastic project.”
Davidson said she is excited about this year’s projects and feels the class lived up to its theme of “The Engaging Leader.”
“They were brought together by their shared passion for a certain area of our county,” she said. “I think that all of them, because we asked them to engage others, were able to select something that they were passionate about that engaged multiple entities; and they brought their projects to fruition, and I think all of them have made a significant impact.”
Davidson said the class was unique in that there was a variety of ages, and half of them were relatively new to Jackson County.
“There was a group that had lived here a long time or all their life, and they just sort of really meshed in that ‘Let me show you how good this place is,’” she said. “It all came together so nicely, and they just moved forward and seemed to just engage. It was a pleasure to get to know them and to work with them, and I look forward to watching all the great things that they’ll do in the future individually.”
Members of the class said it was a good experience.
“It was really interesting to meet so many people that are not from here and seeing them get to see some things that we have in this community that they never knew existed,” Roeder said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and didn’t know a lot of things that were here.”
Walden said it was nice to make connections and learn a lot at the same time.
“Leadership is a great deal,” he said. “I’m definitely going to try to push some other people from my hometown to get into Leadership, for sure.”
Capes said the class helped her grow, step out of her comfort zone and think outside of the box, while Olson said it increased his confidence and showed him he could do things in other areas outside of his everyday job.
“I highly recommend Leadership,” Olson said. “I hope people keep joining this group. It’s wonderful.”
For information about Leadership Jackson County, call 812-522-4020.
To keep updated on the program, go to facebook.com/ljcencore and “like” the page.
Leadership Jackson County Class of 2015
Community Growth and Awareness: Linda Foster, Brent Jameson, Whitney Riggs, Mindy Roeder and Hope Sitterding
Social Concerns: Becky Capes, Jeff Davis, Janet Kiewit, Patrick LeClaire and Kay Schwade
History Project: Becky Bujwid, Charlotte Moss, Craig Rice, Amanda Richey and Nick Walden
Youth and Education Project: David Good, Amy Nierman, Chuck Olson, Lola Snyder, Amy Tracy and Kendra Zumhingst