Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Leadership Knox County Style

Knox County, Nebraska - Leadership Knox County Style

Michael Holton, Center for Rural Affairs,

A new two-phase community development project will result in a leadership academy.

Experienced community development workers know there are two constants in all communities. First, struggling communities lack leadership. Communities faring better with projects and programs have progressive and diverse leadership. Secondly, communities are largely unaware of assets they can draw upon.

The Center has joined the Home Town Competitiveness (HTC) program to offer community development to Nebraska communities. The “Knox County Leadership Initiative” is a two-phase process taking place this winter in which all nine communities in Knox County will host and address the asset question. Positive changes and attributes are present in every community, and letting them be aware of each other’s assets makes a stronger base from which to draw leadership.

The two types of assets we ask each community to address are tangible and intangible. Tangible assets are easier to define. We asked them to look at transportation, technology, arts and culture, enterprise, land, natural resources, housing, parks, recreation, general initiatives, health, schools, and churches. The intangible assets are much tougher but still need to be identified. These include new attitudes, energy, relationships within the community, and deeper leadership ability.

The second phase of the Knox County leadership initiative involves using neutral, trained resource providers to go into each community and assess weaknesses and needs. These assessments are not new, but developments have fine-tuned the process to give it more meaning.

One of those tools is being touted as the Wyoming model. Under the guidance of Mary Randolph, Executive Director of the Wyoming Rural Development Council, a relatively easy community assessment tool has been developed to explore the needs of rural communities.

In a clearly defined process, including listening sessions, three major questions are looked at:
· What are the major problems and challenges in your community?
· What are the major strengths and assets of your community?
· What projects would you like to see accomplished in your community in the next 2, 5, 10, and 20 years?

What makes the Knox County Leadership Initiative a little different than what others are doing is that we are using the asset mapping strategy to look at each community, and then we are combining the information with the assessment model to complete an analysis of Knox County. The result will be creation of a leadership academy to bring together Knox County leaders to guide them into the 21st century.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


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