Why Redwood Falls?
For generations, that question has been asked by nearly every young adult who finishes their high-school requirements in the local community, heads off to college and then starts looking for a job, but more than that seeks a place they can call their home.
So, why should these future leaders, workers and families even consider the Redwood area as an option?
Benya Kraus has an answer for that question in a movement she helped to establish known as Lead For America as well as the more local arm – Lead For Minnesota.
Kraus, who through her parents has a connection to Waseca and Bangkok, Thailand, said she saw what was happening in the small-town community that was such an important part of who she was.
The community was struggling with a variety of challenges, and was experiencing that mentality that its high-school graduates were leaving and had no intention of ever coming back to their hometown.
Kraus said she knew many who left had a desire to come home, but the environment did not necessarily exist that would allow that to happen. She and others who helped establish Lead For America saw the same thing happening across the United States, and they knew there was an opportunity to develop a means through which those who wanted to go home could do that, and, through Lead For America, they could also learn the tools they would need to make a difference in those hometown communities.
Yes, said Kraus, the story of Waseca is a tale that could be told about many communities throughout the U.S., including those in Redwood County.
Through Lead For America and the more recently established Lead For Minnesota a program has been created that allows people who want to help their communities to learn those skills through a fellowship.
Kraus said she found a connection to Redwood County through the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program (MARL) and one of its participants – Bruce Tiffany.
Kraus came out to the area and from there began to move forward with the plan to develop a way to resolve the existing challenges in the area.
Kraus said Lead for Minnesota is looking for people who can help become the catalysts for change in their community.
Through the fellowship program, which is a two-year commitment, those who are involved are offered training that helps to develop their skills and passions and then helps them utilize what they learned to give back to the community and to stay there.
To learn more about Lead For Minnesota and its programming, as well as how to get involved, visit its Web site at www.leadforminnesota.org.