Leadership Plenty finalizes in Philip; next stage in Horizons program is Community Visioning

Philip participants, back row, from left: Mel Smith, Hallie Albrecht, Brian Mills, Fay Hauk, Kelly Baxter, Sheila Olson, and SDSU correspondent Dan Oedekoven. Middle row: Becky Brech, Crystal Martinez, Mary Burnett, Emily Kroetch, Adele Gelvin and Val Schulz. Front row: co-leader Jim Kanable, Britni Ross, Fran Rayman, Michelle Butler, Brittany Smith and co-leader Kent Olson. Not pictured: Tom Radway, Carmen Fees, Kim Engbarth, Diane Fitch, John Kramer, Vicki Petersen, Cindy Pfiefle, Traci Radway, Lori Seager, Mike Vetter, Susan and Del Bartels.

"Now we raise the bar for the next step," said Dan Oedekoven, Extension Community Development Associate with the South Dakota State University Horizons Project.

Oedekoven spoke at the ninth and final session of the Leadership Plenty meetings in Philip on Thursday, June 7. The culmination of this stage put the volunteers from the community of Philip over half way through the entire two year Horizons project.

The kick-off for the next stage, Community Visioning, will be on September 17 at the Ramkota Inn in Rapid City. International speaker David Burl from Australia will be the guest speaker.

"We want a really diverse group to attend, a group that will be taught how to involve strategic partners," said Oedekoven. The volunteer attendees from the Philip area will be instructed how to access at least 15 percent of the community to create a long range strategic plan. This 15 to 20 year plan will be divided into far smaller and more tangible sections which will result in solid actions to build more leadership and diminish poverty.

The Leadership Plenty stage was led by Jim Kanable, Kent Olson and Diane Fitch. They were first trained to sharpen their own leadership abilities, then they coached learning exercises for the other volunteers.

"The opportunity to be a leader was great," said Olson. "I learned as much as the participants. It was fun. I learned more than with a traditional class. Hopefully the Leadership Plenty process adds to any existing processes that are already out there. Any community in South Dakota not involved with a Horizons-type project is just not keeping up."

This group worked on long range goals. Smaller action teams around Philip are continuing on short range goals. Leadership is not necessarily ramrodding something, but coordinating those people or groups who are working toward the same goals. One action team, along with other Philip area groups, is instigating community beautification as seen in the Bad River Park clean-up, roping arena improvements, parks and general trash pick-up. Such improvements coincided well with the Centennial celebration. Another action team is working on a community information center; with one result being a modernized Philip Chamber of Commerce website.

The first stage, Spotlights and Showcases, introduced and involved people in the goals of strengthening their community, of developing a larger and more diverse group of leaders, and in reducing varying types of poverty that might exist in the area.

The second of the five stages, Study Circles, was progressively more specific. It involved three groups made of individuals who probably did not work or socialize in the same circles. The groups met weekly to determine the main needs that Philip requires to strengthen itself as a community. Individuals discovered that each had the capacity to be a leader. The study circles techniques can be used by any group to forward almost any subject or goal.

After Leadership Plenty and Community Visioning, the fifth stage will be Community Coaching and Action. This will be the implementing of the developed plan arrived at from the previous four stages. It should be finalized by June or July of 2008.