For 35 years in a row, a program has helped people enhance their leadership skills and learn more about Jackson County.
Lifelong residents typically say they learn things about the county that they never knew before. And for those who grew up in other areas but now work or live in the county, it’s pretty much a new learning experience.
What started in 1982 as Leadership Greater Seymour evolved into Leadership Jackson County a couple of years later.
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During that time, more than 700 people have graduated from the program, and there have been four directors and numerous board members.
With the 35th class having graduated in May, the organization decided to mark that milestone with a celebration.
From 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26 at Pewter Hall in Brownstown, alumni, directors and board members over the years will be recognized during a 35-year celebration event.
It’s being tabbed as a night to reminisce, reconnect and celebrate.
“We are planning to make it informal and fun,” said Janet Hensen, a 2014 Leadership Jackson County graduate who has served on the board and auxiliary committee. “We really want to focus on reconnecting with your classmates and other alumni.”
Tickets are $12 through Sept. 15 and $15 after that date and at the door. They may be purchased at the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce office in Seymour or The Peoples Bank in Brownstown or online through the community calendar on the chamber’s website, seymourchamber.com.
Registration will start at 5:30 p.m. The event will begin with appetizers and social hour.
Around 7 p.m., emcee Rexanne Ude, a 1984 Leadership Jackson County graduate, will share information about each of the directors and ask people to stand when their director is announced.
Organizers are hoping to get as many people from the first graduating class in 1983 and the 35th class in 2017 to attend the event and be recognized.
You don’t have to be a Leadership Jackson County graduate to attend the 35-year celebration. Anyone interested in learning more about the program and interacting with alumni is invited to attend.
Attendees also can check out a slideshow of pictures over the years, look at items for the dessert auction, buy tickets for Leadership Jackson County’s Fort Vallonia Days raffle and purchase drinks from the cash bar.
Toward the end of the event, Roger Hurt will lead the dessert auction. It will feature at least 25 desserts made by area residents and businesses. There will be live and silent auctions for those items.
The night will cap off with handing out door prizes.
All proceeds from the event will benefit Leadership Jackson County’s youth program, YoJack. There are now spring and fall sessions of YoJack, which is offered to seventh-graders in the county.
“It is a really great chance to meet and socialize with people who you might not have met in your daily life but who now have a shared experience with you,” Hensen said of the 35-year celebration.
In 2016, one of the Leadership Jackson County project teams established a class agent for each of the classes over the years. The class agent is responsible for keeping contact information for their classmates updated for the alumni database and also sharing information with them about Leadership Jackson County events.
That would include letting their classmates know about the 35-year celebration so the event is well-attended.
“I want to thank the class agents who have been helping to get the word out to the 35 classes,” Hensen said.
Leadership Jackson County’s 36th class recently attended the opening retreat at Camp Pyoca in Brownstown. The 22 members of the class and director Terrye Davidson will continue to meet once a month through May.
During that time, they will visit a variety of places to learn what is available in the county, participate in team-building and leadership activities and be divided into teams to present projects at graduation in May 2018.
“I think what the board and directors have put together is a valuable program, where you learn about Jackson County as you are learning more about yourself and your leadership skills,” Hensen said.
She said learning about the county is a huge benefit.
“You also get to meet people from different parts of the county in your class and as speakers to the class,” Hensen said. “In addition, look at some of the projects that have taken off and continue to benefit the county, like Kids Fest.”
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What: Leadership Jackson County’s 35-year celebration
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26; doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Pewter Hall, 850 W. Sweet St., Brownstown
Cost: $12 through Sept. 15; $15 after that date and at the door; tickets may be purchased at the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce office in Seymour or The Peoples Bank in Brownstown or online through the community calendar on the chamber’s website, seymourchamber.com, or at goo.gl/jiaqyu; committee members Natasha Miller, Tricia Bechman, Kathy Covert, Janet Hensen, Trina Tracy, Becky Bujwid, Scott Heyne, Jackie Hill, Erin Royalty, Jody Deckard, Stephanee Squires-Roberts, Megan White and Tom Flora also are selling tickets
Proceeds will benefit Leadership Jackson County’s youth leadership program, YoJack.
Any alumni who haven’t heard about the 35-year celebration from their class agent may call 812-595-9162.