The Lead Arkansas (LeadAR) program is seeking students for class 17, which will start in early 2015. The deadline to apply is August 29.

“There’s still a real need for leaders,” said Joe Waldrum, LeadAR director and professor of leadership development for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. “Rural communities continue to need more motivated individuals to step up into leadership roles. Good leaders don’t necessarily need advanced degrees, they just should be willing to take the responsibility to tackle community problems and to find accurate information to make decisions.”

LeadAR consists of 11 three-day seminars held across the state focusing on skills in communications, networking, policy formation, economics, culture, and government, over a two-year period.

The first class began 30 years ago with a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to develop rural leaders. Initially, LeadAR founders focused on recruiting participants from agriculture and rural areas. The program still focuses on the development of agricultural and rural leaders, however anyone who wants to become a better leader is eligible to apply.

The program is administered by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service and funded by the Division and corporate and LeadAR alumni sponsors.

“We hope to get a applicants who are passionate about helping their communities, who want to learn more about available resources and who want to increase their skills and self confidence,” Waldrum said. ” This is the right program for people who want to be a better leader but don’t know how to go about it.”

For example, a LeadAR participant in one class had a community service goal to teach 100 non-farm kids about agriculture.

“She arranged for 100 suburban junior high kids to tour cotton, rice and soybean farms,” Waldrum said. “It made such a local impact that since that time she has trained over 5000 kids. When she began the LeadAR program she lacked the confidence and knowledge to take on such a leadership role, but with help from her classmates she became a successful leader.”

LeadAR program benefits:

Increase network of contacts and resources via homework assignments to meet local leaders and LeadAR alumni. There are 465 alumni of the program in community, state and national leadership roles.

Gain knowledge in the areas of agriculture, health, education, economic development, and government via key Arkansas decision makers at the seminars Public speaking, media, and interpersonal relationship skills Increase their self-confidence to take on leadership roles.

Accomplish a community service goal.

Learn about national issues that may have an impact on the state of Arkansas on a weeklong study tour to Washington, D.C.

Participate in an eleven day study tour to another country to learn about a different culture and issues affecting that country. Previous countries visited include Greece, Australia, Vietnam, Turkey, Brazil and China.

The competitive selection process includes the application, spousal support form, employer commitment form and recommendations. Participants are selected based on their leadership qualities, good character, and involvement in agriculture, business, rural enterprise or their community.

“LeadAR is a life-changing experience,” Waldrum said, adding that he reminds spouses at the interview that participants will change. “If you don’t want them to change, pull them out right now,” he says.

Tuition for the program is $3,000 payable over one year.

Interested individuals can contact Dr. Joe Waldrum at (501) 671-2076 or visit http://www.uaex.edu/leadar to learn more about the LeadAR program. Applications are due by August 29.

Applicants may also contact Drew County Extension Agent Steven Kelley, at 460-6270 to request an application.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. All meetings and activities announced in this news release are open to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (large print, audiotapes, etc.) should notify the county Extension office as soon as possible prior to the activity.