This past September, a cohort of individuals who live, work, worship or who have children attending school in Redwood County began meeting through a newly-developed program known as LINC Redwood County.

The people, who come from all walks of life and represent different communities throughout Redwood County, gathered to develop and enhance skills they can use to become stronger leaders in the places where they live, work and otherwise interact with others.

Through LINC, the 20-plus individuals were being encouraged and taught to lead, inspire, network and create (LINC) all in an effort to help ensure a strong future for Redwood County.

Meeting one day each month through May, the group was able to not only learn about topics such as ethics and conflict resolution, participants also visited nine communities in the county to learn more about what each of those areas had to offer.

“The time went by fast,” said Paul Parsons, one of the participants in the inaugural LINC class. 

Parsons and the other program participants met with LINC leaders and supporters May 8 at the American Legion hall in Redwood Falls to celebrate their graduation from the program.

Parsons said after the initial event in September he could not wait for the next session, adding not only did he learn a lot about himself and how he can be a better leader, he also discovered there is so much more to Redwood County than he ever realized.

Claire Meyers and Amanda Monroe, co-founders of LINC Redwood County, congratulated the participants in the first class and expressed their appreciation to the people who invested financially in the program as well as the steering committee members who put in hundreds of hours to make sure LINC was successful.

“It is hard to believe we started this two years ago,” said Meyers, adding the time has truly flown by as the program was created and then initiated.

Monroe said she was involved in a similar program in Brown County and felt there was a need to do something in Redwood County as well. After all, she said, Redwood County is her home.

The local leadership program worked in conjunction with leaders from the University of Minnesota Extension Service and used an established model as the foundation for what took place at each session.

Not only did the LINC class have the opportunity to learn from leadership experts, they also heard from local community leaders and also had time to interact with each other.

The hope is that this first class has developed that network which spans the entire county. Ideally, when one of the graduates has an idea that person will start calling other graduates from their LINC class to see how they can utilize each other’s skills and assets to make that idea come to fruition.

Being a leader is not easy, and for some the idea of leading, getting up and speaking in front of a group, or even interacting in a group setting can cause anxiety.

Through LINC, the participants have had the opportunity in a smaller, less-threatening environment to develop those skills that can make them better people.

The list of the graduates of the first LINC Redwood County class includes: Jenifer Manthei, Shayna Prins, Stacey Heiling, Lisa Jones, Kara Siegfried, Chelsey Rettmann, Christie Rudenick, Heidi Wersal, Angie Gewerth, Barb Johnson, Duane Frank, Paul Parsons, Joel Harmoning, Josh Krause, Vanessa Hoffman, Marcus Kendall, Will Hermanson, Markeela Toreen, Doug Daub, Jenna Peterson, Brent Mack, Russ Lesniak and Matt Kurtz.

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2018-19 class.

More information about LINC can be found at lincredwoodcounty.org.