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Leadership students visit MSU and Mayfield
Leadership sponsor Melissa Goodman and students hear about MSU leadership major.

(Clinton, KY – Feb. 21, 2012) – Sixteen Hickman County High School sophomores signed up for a program that will expect them to come up with solutions to four local issues before the endo of this school year.

Eleven girls and five boys are the Class of 2012 of the Hickman County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program.  Like other leadership programs, the students visit businesses and government offices to learn about the community outside of the walls of their school.

Unlike other leadership programs, students were divided into teams at their first meeting, a retreat in August.  Each team was assigned an issue to research. Teams work together to write a research paper, with citations presenting their research and recommendations at Leadership Graduation in early May.

Leadership graduation in 2010 and 2011 hosted over one hundred family, friends, Chamber members and elected officials at the program.  Recommendations from past student groups are still being studied by adult community leaders.

This year, Chamber sponsors selected four problems: 1) using the Mississippi River as an economic development tool; 2) medical trends in a rural area 3) marketing and branding our community and 4) youth programs in the area. 

The Class visited Parkway Regional Hospital in Fulton and later heard a presentation by local general practitioner Dr. Bruce Smith. The team working on medical trends can use the information and the contacts made to prepare their presentation.

Last Tuesday, students spent the morning at Murray State learning about Murray State’s new leadership program, with a major in youth and nonprofit leadership.  Youth and nonprofit leadership as a major course of study is only one of two in the nation, the other being at the University of Arizona.

Students sat a large conference table and heard themselves praised by Gina S. Winchester, MSU Executive Director of the Office of Regional Outreach for stepping out and becoming part of a leadership program.

Lance Allison, President/CEO of the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce discussed leadership opportunities locally and spoke of working toward a “Leadership MSU” concept.

Charlotte Bradshaw, Assistant for Enrollment Management, handed out information on MSU and urged students to think Murray first for post-secondary education.

Robin Esau, Director of the Youth & Non-Profit Leadership Program, and Professor David Gesler, of the Organizational Communication Department, were on hand to sell their new program to the sophomores.L to R: Kate Reeves, Amber Schaudt, Holly Pritchard, Mark Welch, Gina Winchester Gesler told students that communication is how “we get things done. Nothing gets together without human to human communication.”

When asked how to choose a major, Winchester told students to find something they are passionate about. She recounted meeting a heart surgeon in Hopkinsville whose undergrad major was music. That grad found his way into medicine, following another passion.

Students then visited Wrather Hall and were greeted by Kate Reeves, Director of Wrather Museum who showed a film about the history of western Kentucky which is a part of the “Journey Story” exhibit now on display at the Museum.

In addition to the movie and museum tour, the students heard from Mark Welch, Director of Community Relations, dressed as an airline pilot, Amber Schaudt, Coordinator for Service Learning, as a train conductor complete with whistle and Holly Pritchard, Special Projects Assistant, in an airline stewardess uniform worn on the now defunct Ozark Airlines. Welch spoke of the work it takes for the university and residents to get along with each other.

Leaving Murray, students then traveled to Mayfield to meet with Mayor Teresa Cantrell. The new mayor has taken as a focus updating the image of her city by rebranding the town.  Mayfield had become known as the city in between Murray and Paducah. Mayor Teresa Cantrell shares branding tips

With the help of a consultant and interviews with residents old and new, the City chose “Discover our hidden treasures” in its effort to create a unique brand name for itself.  It’s all part of process that includes a new information filled website, stationary, new signage and even pirate costumes worn by city employees at the downtown Halloween celebration last October. Cantrell said the branding process is an economic development tool. As money becomes available, branding of Mayfield will expand.

The final speaker of the day, Brad Davis of the Purchase Area Development District, is an authority on the economic benefits of the Mississippi River. Davis explained that the expansion of the Panama Canal will lead to expanded opportunities for Mississippi River traffic.

He told students that the very large container ships that will not fit through the present Canal will begin arriving in New Orleans, Mobile or on the east coast of the US. Those barges that dock at New Orleans will divide up their large loads for shipment up the Mississippi.

After a day of information from experts in many fields, students will be able to use what they’ve learned not just to prepare a report and compete at Leadership graduation in May, but in their personal and professional lives. 

They may not realize it yet, but that’s what the sponsors and presenters hope will happen.

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