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Learn, Experience, Act and Develop provides leadership, mentoring

November 7, 2014

Learn, Experience, Act and Develop (LEAD) is a training program developed by UW-River Falls to encourage students in becoming successful leaders both in school and after graduation, while providing mentoring and leadership education to a small group of freshmen students.

Amber Wilson, a junior communication student and an involvement specialist in the University Center, is helping coordinate LEAD this year.

“LEAD is a program that is designed for first-year students who have a strong interest in building or gaining leadership skills,” Wilson said. “Coming to college is definitely about making the connections and becoming involved, because if you become involved you are more likely to stay and you are more likely to graduate.”

Although LEAD does not begin until early February 2015, applications are only being taken until Nov. 14. There is room for 20 students in the training and there are already 23 applicants who have filled out their intent form at OrgSync. Wilson encourages students to go ahead and fill out intent forms and apply anyway. All applications will be looked at and considered for the program. The program starts out with an overnight retreat at Camp St. Croix for the students and their mentors. At the retreat students get to know not only each other but their own strengths and weaknesses. The retreat also teaches students to get close as a group and share with others who they are. They are taught to draw on their own experiences while learning leadership skills from their mentors and each other.

After the retreat, students meet every Wednesday as a group. At the weekly meetings students are taught new skills and techniques for leadership. Speakers and social activities also play a role in learning leadership qualities. One-on-one mentoring sessions are then spread throughout the year to monitor and encourage leadership growth. Students can bounce ideas off their mentor and ask advice when needed. Mentors provide individual feedback to assist students in the program.

The overview for LEAD states: “One overnight, plus 12 Wednesday meetings, plus three mentor sessions, plus one service experience, equals a LEAD certificate.”

“This certificate can tell a future employers a lot about a prospective employee,” Wilson said.

The skills LEAD teaches are meant to help students by encouraging the necessary skills to obtain success in the future during their college career. Service work is also a component of the program

Wilson said the group plans a charity event to benefit Bridge for Youth and Adults with Disabilities. Bridge is a residential program designed to educate, assist, socialize and train disabled individuals in Hudson. Wilson said volunteerism is another component of leadership LEAD encourages.

One of last year’s participants, Danielle Holtz, said: “I think it definitely helped me grow as a person, I think it definitely helps me do group projects.”

Holtz recommends the program for any freshman interested in honing their leadership skills. If students are interested in applying or have questions for the LEAD program can fill out their intent form online at Falcon Sync or contact Amber Wilson or Haley Klinker at Student Involvement at 715-425-4444.