Finding and Preparing Rural Leaders
Building and sustaining small towns and rural areas seems like a straightforward endeavor. It can be complicated by remote location, sparse populations, limited access to equity, broadband or health care or other factors.
In fact, the biggest barrier to rural development and small-town viability is a lack of local leadership. And that’s not to diminish the role and efforts of existing elected officials, community organizations and local boards and commissions. It’s a reflection of the difficulty that comes with finding and preparing the next generation of leaders – and helping them to see the factors that will influence the community’s future.
Iowa is fortunate to have a rich universe of leadership development programs. But many operate at the local or county level and may not be aware of what’s going on just a few miles away. Governor Kim Reynolds sought to address this issue by making rural leadership a pillar of her Empower Rural Iowa initiative. The “Growing” task force within Empower is seeking to build connections between those many programs – and reach places not served by a leadership development offering.
Resources and Partners
The effort to help develop leaders (current and future) is being led on multiple fronts. There are business and industry-focused programs, educational efforts, leadership efforts aimed at young people, farmers and elected officials. Schools,non-profits, associations, economic development groups and others are all working to “build the bench.”
- Leadership Iowa
- ISU Extension
- UNI Institute for Youth Leaders
- Ag Leaders Institute
- Iowa Corn Leadership Enhancement and Development
- Iowa Valley Community College District
Case Studies and News Items
Sometimes the best solutions are just down the road. Many rural Iowa communities are implementing innovative solutions to address their leadership needs. Those case studies and best practices can be a roadmap for other communities – if they know where to look!
The Iowa Rural Development Council is pleased to unveil its new website, which was created by the talented team at Big Imprint, a West Liberty-based websites and marketing firm. “We are thrilled to have Ethan Anderson and the Big Imprint designers on our team,” said IRDC Chair Sandy Ehrig. “We... Read More →
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds used the backdrop of the Wilton Candy Kitchen to sign legislation that provides state funds for rural housing and broadband. An article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette provides more information. Members of the ‘Empower Rural Iowa’ task force and the Iowa Rural Development Council joined Governor... Read More →