Leadership class promotes community connection

A group photo of graduates from the Leadership Washington class on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Michelle Redlinger)
A group photo of graduates from the Leadership Washington class on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Michelle Redlinger)

WASHINGTON — At a local farm on a warm, sunny day, 26 individuals graduated from the Leadership Washington program Wednesday.

At Hal Colliver’s farm, a colorful collection of road signs and billboards greeted the graduates, along with fans to ward off the heat.

The individuals graduating have attended a nine-session program designed to educate individuals about issues and concerns facing the Washington area.

Even though this year ended more abruptly than previous years, the participants were able to learn more about the community and make a difference.

Samantha Meyer said the class was fun. She said the school day was eye opening for her. Before, Meyer said she had no idea how many meals were sent home on a daily and weekly basis from the food pantry.

Meyer said in the next class she was going to pitch in $10 or $20 to the pantry and in the end the entire class donated around $300.

Meyer said being able to feed cows and hold baby sheep was also a great part of the class.

The program is aimed at a range of people from new community members, people in new positions, those retiring and everything in between.

The classes have a focus on teaching the individuals about the community and making them feel connected to the community, said Michelle Redlinger, executive director of the Washington Chamber of Commerce.

This class should have graduated in April but because of the coronavirus the class was canceled in March.

Once a month, the class meets to learn about different aspects of the community and get a behind-the-scenes look at the organizations. Some of the days include an education day, an agriculture day, a city and county government day and more.

The nine sessions run from September through May but may be pushed back due to coronavirus this year.

“Every year is different, and every day is different,” Redlinger said.

If interested, the Chamber of Commerce is recruiting members for the next year’s class. The tuition is $300 for Chamber members, and the deadline to apply is Aug. 1. Applications can be requested from the Chamber of Commerce.