A group of local individuals representing several Redwood County communities from Wabasso to Walnut Grove and Belview to Morgan met with members of the Redwood County board to talk about a new concept that group has been working to develop in the county.

The premise behind the program is to address a growing issue countywide – a lack of people who feel qualified to lead and to take leadership positions. The most recent election was evidence of that, the group told members of the board, as in a number of communities no one filed to serve in public service roles.

To address that, LINC Redwood County has been initiated. LINC Redwood County is based on a leadership development program that “engages community members to lead, inspire, network and create to build a sustainable future in Redwood County.”

The program was developed by the University of Minnesota Extension Service. It offers training to those who live, work, worship or have kids in a school within the borders of Redwood County. The public will have the opportunity to learn more about LINC Redwood County at an event being held April 26 in two different locations.

That day from 12-2 p.m. at Daktronics in Redwood Falls and from 5-7 p.m. at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center in rural Lamberton, those in attendance will have the chance to hear Ben Winchester talk about LINC and some of his latest research on the leadership gap in rural Minnesota.

According to Winchester, “during the last census period in the U.S., while the population increased 10 percent, the number of non-profits increased 32 percent. These non-profits and government agencies reflect the need for leadership, for the need for people to set up and serve.”

LINC Redwood County is scheduled to launch this September with its first class of prospective leaders. Those students will participate in a nine-month program using the program from Extension that includes nine sessions and is limited to 24 people.

Those who are helping to develop the program in Redwood County will accept applications for the first class with the hope that the students not only represent a broad range of ages and industries in the county but also a number of the communities from Redwood County.

At its meeting, the Redwood County board opted to invest in LINC Redwood County, as it will help fund the program for the next four years. That investment includes $14,300 in the first year and $11,300 each year for the following three years.

The hope is to help create a program that is sustainable for years to come and that develops future leaders that can make Redwood County even greater.

According to Wade McKittrick, Wabasso Public Schools superintendent and a member of the LINC Redwood County planning team, the entire county has a vested interest in developing its greatest asset – people.

“We want people to get involved in their communities,” said McKittrick.

The idea is to network people together from across the county to get them out if their individual silos and to work together to create a stronger community.

The public is encouraged to attend one of the April 26 presentations to learn more about LINC Redwood County and how to get involved in the first class being held later this year.

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota Extension Service