McLeod for Tomorrow pays dividends back to McLeod County in many ways. Post program surveys filled out by participants indicate an increase in self-efficacy, self-awareness, civic engagement, cross community knowledge and shared vision for the future (Kallevig & Jackola, 2023). Participants report looking for more ways to get involved with their community after completing the program. The dividends to the county that are a ripple effect of the McLeod For Tomorrow program, is greater than just these pieces.
I myself am not a program alumni, but McLeod For Tomorrow has completely changed my life and my community forever. I talk a lot of Stewart. This isn’t even my hometown. I am a transplant to Stewart from Sibley County. My husband grew up here, but the people here have taken me in and created this beautiful community I am so proud of. Together with other members of the community, a non-profit was started to support events in Stewart. In the end of August, 2023 we had the reinstatement of Stewartfest after 7 years without a town festival. While the community was hungry for this to return, I never would have taken the plunge without McLeod For Tomorrow.
Building the Resources in the Community
McLeod For Tomorrow invests in the greatest resource of the community, our people. We build on the strengths of the community (More here), educate the cohort about themselves, and empower them to make changes in the county around them. Change doesn’t always require large leaps forward to create a difference, sometimes it just requires doing what you can each day to work toward a brighter future.
Years ago, when Stewartfest first disbanded I considered looking into inquiring about running the Stewartfest Committee. I lacked a lot of confidence in myself, the knowledge to put it on, and frankly felt like there was no way I could do well at that job. 5 or so years later, and McLeod For Tomorrow later, not only did I do it but my team brought the whole festival back! You see, leaders aren’t people who have the perfect ability to handle anything that may come their way. Instead, leaders are people who can creatively solve problems even without a clear solution. Leaders work with the people around them to come up with solutions that make sense. Leaders don’t allow their own self-doubt to hold them back from striving for something greater.
You see, the world does not become a better place by only big steps. The world becomes a better place when community members work together by doing what they can for the community.
Tying it All Together
While I might not be a program alumni, the program has changed me. It has influenced my belief in myself to accomplish tasks. It has motivated me to get involved, be the change, and not just sit by. My only hope for McLeod For Tomorrow is that every single cohort inspires even one person to get involved in their community in a way that fulfills their strengths. There is a place for everyone, it is just a matter of finding your own place in the community.
As the summer winds down and we continue another program year, I am excited to meet the next batch of leaders who will become change makers in McLeod County. I can’t wait to learn from the new program model, connect with more leaders, and network with likeminded people. Stay tuned for more dividends in the community as a result of this amazing program.
I really enjoyed my time working with this group and meeting my cohorts! This is a great program that I hope continues for a long time. The more we can be aware of our communities and how we can help – the better. It’s easy to play a silent role, but knowing how to make change and how what we already do can help our communities is great!
Photo Credit: Mia.Rosephotography