JSC students learn to LEAD

On Feb. 3, 25 students from all walks of life gathered in Bentley to attend the LEAD conference. This event, designed by Director of Student Activities Krista Swahn and Learning Resource Center Coordinator Martha Lance, was intended to nurture the skills required to transform attendees into the leaders of tomorrow.

The event lasted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and included workshops, guest speakers, and a brief award ceremony at the end where each attendee was awarded with a LEAD shirt and certificate.

The opening speaker was Hal Colston, best known as the founder of the Good News Garage in Burlington, Vermont. Originally from Pennsylvania, Colston shared childhood experiences that shaped his character into that of a leader. He also shared the story of how the Good News Garage came to life, starting July 1, 1996 with only $35,000 to start, and then how it grew into a national program that gained the attention of Senator Bernie Sanders, a budget of 1.3 million, 25 staff members, and an expansion program that provided vans for commuting to work.

Colston urged students to “know thyself,” and to remain in touch with their core values, because doing so “drives us to do the right thing.”

The second guest speaker, Senator Richard Westman, visited the students during lunch. A Johnson State College alumnus, Westman was born and raised on a farm in Cambridge, Vermont, and graduated with a political science major. He stressed the importance of thinking critically, doing homework, and looking at facts and details. “If you don’t have facts, you can’t support leadership,” he warned, “and if you don’t get involved, you’re going to lose.”

The workshops were divided into two separate tracks. Group Management included three workshops that focused on communication, teamwork, and conflict management, whereas Leadership Development had workshops that developed effective facilitation, soulful leadership, and authentic leadership. Workshop leaders included Graduate Assistant Tara Robinson and also Director of Experiential Learning Ellen Hill.
Swahn felt that the event was a success. “We are putting together the data from the workshop surveys, but a quick glance tells me that most were ranked in the 4-5 range,” she said, referring to the surveys handed out at the end of each workshop.

With such a successful first event, the LEAD Conference is very much here to stay. If you missed it this time, don’t worry. There will be sure to be another one in the coming fall semester!