LeadAR, one of the state’s oldest leadership programs, has a new class of 22 leaders who will spend the next two years learning about issues and opportunities facing Arkansas and strengthening their ability to make a difference in their respective communities.

Brittany Schmidt of Walnut Ridge is among the 22 participants selected. Schmidt serves as county executive director with the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The two-year leadership program, offered through the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, has been training community leaders for nearly four decades. A new class is selected every other year.

“Our overall goal is to equip emerging leaders with knowledge and skills they need to make a difference in their communities or organization,” Julie Robinson, LeadAR director, said. “They will learn about issues affecting rural and urban areas of Arkansans and how the state is interwoven, and they will walk away equipped with the tools necessary to catalyze change using strategies that are equitable, empowering, and sustainable.”

Participants will then apply that knowledge to lead projects that can make a positive difference in their communities.

For the next 22 months, participants will attend two-day seminars every other month in different communities and regions in Arkansas. They will interact with the state’s top industry leaders, practice their policy-making skills, tour communities throughout the state and visit with congressional leaders in Washington, D.C.

The program will culminate with an international study tour to learn how international issues compare to conditions in the United States, and how those issues impact Arkansas.

LeadAR, founded in 1984, was originally modeled after the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s leadership training program. In its 36 years, LeadAR has graduated more than 500 educators, farmers, advocates, bankers, state legislators, quorum court, city council and school board members who are leaders in their communities and states. As a result, there are hundreds of projects that helped improve the local economy, schools or situations for those in need.

To learn more about LeadAR, visit uaex.edu/ LeadAr.

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