Sanford B. Dooley, Overstreet, Karen, Bogren, Richard C. | 11/17/2006 3:08:22 AM
LIVINGSTON, La. – Twenty-one members of the most recent Community Leadership and Economic Development class in Livingston Parish were on hand for the final session and presentation of certificates Monday (Nov. 13).
Known as CLED, for short, the program is offered by the LSU AgCenter in conjunction with other statewide and local partners and is designed to help volunteers learn leadership skills that can help them work to improve their local economies and make their communities better places to live.
It has been offered in a variety of areas across the state since its inception in 1994 and the statewide contributors to the program include the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives and the Louisiana Police Jury Association.
"The 10-week class is designed to teach leadership skills and provide an opportunity for participants to put those skills to use," said LSU AgCenter specialist Dr. Sanford Dooley, one of the program coordinators.
In the final Livingston Parish session, class participants finished developing plans for specific activities they were going to pursue in the coming weeks. They had focused on three local issues – communications, job training and parishwide mapping.
"It was excellent – just to meet with community leaders and collaborate to make the parish better," said class participant Joan Gunter of Pine Grove. "I was glad to be a part of it."
Gunter, director of Southeastern Louisiana University’s programs at the Livingston Literacy and Technology Center in Walker, said she learned of the program at a chamber of commerce meeting, where she was encouraged to participate.
"I appreciate the opportunity to serve the Livingston community," she said.
Class participants included representatives of the board of education, high school students, banks, North Oaks Health System and the Livingston Parish Police Jury, said LSU AgCenter specialist Karen Overstreet, one of the program coordinators. The Livingston Economic Development Council co-sponsored the class.
The group, in general, was interested in parish improvements, Overstreet said. Their concerns included a split market – the eastern portion of the parish is in the Hammond market area, while the western portion of the parish is in the Baton Rouge market area.
The parish also has been undergoing rapid growth and seems to be in transition from rural to more urban, Overstreet added. The focus on job training emerged as a way to examine how to match worker skills with the needs of the workplace.
"I always had involvement with the community and wanted to get more into it," Sean Murray with Shaw Sunland Fabricators said as his reason for participating.
"It far exceeded my expectations," Murray said. "It was very informative. It’s really been a good program to be in."
In addition to classes on leadership styles, communication and team building, the program included an overview of the local history, demographics and economics of the parish. Participants use the information and skills they learn to develop the ideas and plans regarding critical issues they work on during the final portion of the program.
"They want to make their community better," Dooley said.
Sandy Dooley at (225) 578-2375 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Overstreet at (225) 578-6709 or email@example.com
Rick Bogren at (225) 578-5839 or firstname.lastname@example.org