Cultivating community-minded citizens
Leadership Marshfield brings together future leaders in the community for the greater good
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The goal of Leadership Marshfield is simple: Find up-and-coming members of the community and enroll them in a program that will improve their leadership skills and allow them to develop projects that will also benefit the Marshfield area. The program also helps to develop a network of future leaders for the community.
Leadership Marshfield, now in its 23rd year of existence, is run by the Marshfield Area Chamber Foundation and began as the brain child of Fritz Wenzel, Sally Cutler, and former Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MACCI) Executive Director and Marshfield Mayor Marilyn Hardacre. They realized that there was nothing in place to integrate young professionals into the community and develop this network of leaders that would positively impact the future of the city.
MACCI Program Director Deb Bauer said that Leadership Marshfield has also been popular for newcomers to the city as it can integrate them with the fabric of the community. Employers pay $795 to enroll an employee in the eight-month program, which helps cover the operational costs of conducting the course. In return employers receive an employee who has built relationships in the community and gained valuable leadership skills.
“After (businesses) put an employee through the program, they see such a value of that employee coming back to their organization that they invest over and over again,” Bauer said, adding that with an average enrollment of 24 participants, long-lasting relationships form during the course of the program.
“I look back at my time involved with this program, and every year it’s 24 connections I have made in this community,” Bauer said. “It’s so rewarding. It really is.”
Throughout the program the class meets once a month to go through training and team building exercises with each session having a unique focus.
Experts talk with the class about topics like quality of life, education, public safety, local government, health care, and business and economic development—all areas of focus that are integral to a healthy future for the community.
During the eight months, class participants break into smaller groups and must come up with a sustainable project that will benefit the community. Throughout the process the groups will learn to use problem-solving skills and how to work with local organizations and institutions collaboratively.
Many times the project ideas emerge from the classes the groups go through during the program. Participants in Leadership Marshfield often continue working on a project long after the program has ended. This year’s Leadership Marshfield class graduated April 16.
Projects that Leadership Marshfield groups have contributed to in the past include implementing the blue recycling tubs now ubiquitous in the city, the Nutrition on Weekends Program, Movies in the Park, Wildwood Station Trail, Habitat for Humanity, and many more.
This year’s class
One of many projects undertaken by this year’s Leadership Marshfield class is called Right 2 Play 4 All. A United Way program, Right 2 Play 4 All is dedicated to ensuring that all students in the community have an opportunity to engage in sports and other extracurricular healthy lifestyle activities, especially if a student’s family may struggle to handle the activities’ extra financial expense.
The Leadership Marshfield group working on this project is planning to develop a variety of fundraisers. The first fundraiser will be a brat fry at Festival Foods in Marshfield on August 15.
Nick Faber, a manager at Wipfli LLP in Marshfield and a member of the Leadership Marshfield group that is administering Right 2 Play 4 All, said that the project would serve a need in the community and that he has had fun taking part in the planning process.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to get kids involved with sports at a young age or activities at a young age,” Faber said. “We all have enjoyed the process so far and (are) looking forward to hopefully growing our pot of money and helping many more kids along the way.”
The application for Right 2 Play 4 All is located on the Marshfield Area United Way’s website, marshfieldareaunitedway.org.
For those interested in applying for a future Leadership Marshfield class, applications will soon be available at marshfieldchamber.com, or stop in at the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s offices at 700 S. Central Ave. For questions about the program, call 715-384-3454.