You may have heard, but McLeod For Tomorrow’s leadership program is changing with the 2023-2024 program year. This change has been something we have been actively working on over the last two years, so the change is not a surprise. The new model will allow for the same amount of educational time as before, but it will just look a bit different than before. It will also allow for additional networking opportunities for leaders who attend the program.
The original model didn’t allow for expansion into other counties in the state. Extension had to make changes to continue to offer quality leadership education in a way that was sustainable.
Something had to Give
Because of University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality offers leadership education like MFT to some counties in the state of Minnesota, they have to offer it to EVERY county in the state. With the current workforce climate, and just the size of the state of Minnesota this is a very large feat. The original model didn’t allow for expansion into other counties in the state. Extension had to make changes to continue to offer quality leadership education in a way that was sustainable. Additionally, upcoming or recent retirements, and changes in staffing have made it even harder to offer services to more communities across the state. Something had to be done.
Working Toward a Common Goal
In the beginning stages of creating a new model, Extension invited all current leadership programs partnering with them to be involved in creating a plan that made sense for their program. Initially, this looked like a few board members and the coordinators from each program helping refine the program into something that would be more sustainable, but also not decrease the integrity of the education offered. We knew the leadership program would change, but how that looked took time to complete. After over a year of collaboration, a new model is about to be released.
What Will Be the Same?
- Leadership training from qualified educators from the U of M Extension
- Tours of Local Businesses.
- An opportunity for local government officials to meet with the cohort.
- Networking opportunities
- Each community will be focused on individually and have their own “time to shine.”
- Our current partnerships with local businesses will be able to continue!
- Breakfast, Lunch and refreshments will continue to be provided each session.
- Graduation will happen on the last program day after the in-county program is completed.
- A diverse cohort of 16-24 leaders who live or work in McLeod County
- MFT is STILL a non-profit 501c3!
What will be Changing?
- Partnering with Meeker County’s leadership program to expand networking opportunities.
- We will have cross county and in county program days.
- Cross county days will have TWO cohorts of 16-24 participants together to do the education from Extension.
- In county days are when we will do talks with local leaders, government officials, local businesses and organizations, tours, and all of the other great things.
- Tuition has changed from $550 to $600 due to increased costs for the program days.
Partnering with Meeker In Motion
Our cross-county days will have two leadership workshops, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Two cross-county days will be in McLeod County, two will be in Meeker County. The other 5 days will take place ONLY in McLeod County. That said, we still have 9 program days, 7 of which will be exclusively in McLeod County. During our cross-county days we intend to focus on the similarities between our counties. What things connect us, where are we different, and why this partnership makes sense.
In our in-county days, we will focus ONLY on McLeod County, local partners, and learn more about what makes McLeod County stand out.
Benefits of this Partnership
While all McLeod For Tomorrow Funds will go toward McLeod County and our program costs, there are many benefits to partnering with Meeker County. Some of these benefits are hard to quantify, but some are important to note.
- Working with Meeker in Motion allows us to continue to provide solid leadership training to both of our counties with the support of the U of M Extension educators. This would not happen without this partnership!
- Some people who work in McLeod County, live in Meeker County (or vice versa). This model better supports Ben Winchesters “Living in the Middle of Everywhere” rural model (Learn more here.)
- Increased networking opportunities with our neighboring county and like-minded individuals.
Change can be difficult, but both of our county programs feel like this merger will be a great partnership. We are excited to join together two cohorts of local leaders who can experience the first group with the new model. That said, we are currently recruiting for this year’s program. If you or someone you know is interested in attending, have them Apply Today! Even those who have previously attended the leadership program are invited to apply. It will be a different experience that we are excited to offer!