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Finding rural Ont.’s next leaders

Finding rural Ont.’s next leaders

Young Ontarians are encouraged to apply for the Rural Ontario Institute’s Rural Change Makers program

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The Rural Ontario Institute is looking for a group of young people to participate in a pilot program.

The organization is accepting up to 30 people between the ages of 18 and 29 for its Rural Change Makers program.

The deadline to apply for the program is May 22.

Those who are interested in making changes in their communities are encouraged to apply, said Vicki Dickson, the program’s manager.

“We want to build future-focused leaders and really demonstrate to people in rural Ontario that there are leadership opportunities in your local communities,” she told Farms.com. “Research shows that some of our finest leaders are leaving rural areas for urban areas because they feel there aren’t chances to demonstrate those leadership skills in rural Ontario where, in fact, there are.”

Selected applicants will participate in training webinars, connect with each other online and in person, and organize two events to take action on a challenge or opportunity they’ve helped their community select.

The “discovery session” event will see the participants meet with local stakeholders and community members linking them with the necessary resources to address the challenge or opportunity.

“There’s also a two-day session where the change makers come together to undergo intensive, yet fun, learning and preparations for their discovery sessions,” Dickson said. “They’ll bring along some of the work they’ve done and have it vetted and assessed by the other change makers.”

And at the “community action lab” event, the participants will present an action plan towards a short-term project that will be the focus of their plans in affecting change in their community.

Upon completion they will receive a certification from Campus for Communities of the Future.

The pilot project is free, made possible by a grant from OMAFRA.

If the Rural Change Makers program continues, future applicants may be required to pay a fee to participate, Dickson said.

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