Barnesville is growing its leadership base

Karen Lauer speaks to the Leadership Barnesville graduating class at the Purple Goose restaurant.

Karen Lauer speaks to the Leadership Barnesville graduating class at the Purple Goose restaurant.

by Rick Schara, Live Wide Open Coordinator

I attended the Leadership Barnesville graduation ceremony on March 25 and sat with Jesse and Ashley Atteberry (see photo…cheers!).

The Atteberrys are fairly new to Barnesville, having just moved there in 2018. They are both small town South Dakotans and we enjoyed sharing tales from that area since I, too, lived in South Dakota for a few years.

Jesse was in the leadership program. He is a police officer with Barnesville and saw this program as a good opportunity to meet folks in the community. They mentioned that Ashley may be signing up for the next leadership group. She works for Moorhead State University and doesn’t mind the commute.

They are really enjoying the small town/big town vibe of Barnesville. They had lived up in the Fargo/Moohead area but that wasn’t where they wanted to live. You might say they wanted a place more like they had when they grew up and that’s what they found in Barnesville.

Kudos to the Barnesville Economic Development authority, in particular Karen Lauer, in their efforts to look to the future for community leadership. In fact, I was amazed to learn that this program has graduated nearly 250 people!

One of the key components of the Barnesville program is that participants are invited to break into small groups and create projects that help benefit the community. It might be a community building project, an effort to address a town issue or something like this year’s mental health awareness effort.

When I’m on the road with my work with Live Wide Open, I meet community leaders all the time. But they aren’t who you might think they are.

Jesse graduates!

Jesse graduates!

So who are they? They are the volunteer who is passionate about their cause and is known in town for helping out. They are the small business owner who donates to the latest school project. They are the members of the service club who see pet projects through. They are people you meet at the ball game, at church, at the summer festival.

Leadership comes in many forms and that’s a lesson learned in programs like Leadership Barnesville.

Jesse and Ashley might not run for an elected Barnesville office, but as newcomers they want to get involved and be part of the community fabric.

It’s what leaders do.