Boise State University has successfully launched the Community Leadership Program in Mountain Home, Idaho, as part of its rural education initiative. The university’s Community Impact Program and Professional and Continuing Education partnered with the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce to provide a no-cost, non-credit, customized professional development program for Mountain Home business leaders. The Community Leadership Program provides tools and knowledge to enhance leadership skills, strengthen organizations and make Idaho communities better places to live, work and do business.
Listening to assess community needs
Jeremy Graves, Assistant Director of Professional and Continuing Education, describes how the collaboration started. “We learned from the Community Impact Program to start by listening,” he said. “We hosted listening sessions to determine their needs first. It resulted in Mountain Home’s Community Leadership Program: 6 sessions, 3.5 hours each, multiple instructors with unique areas of expertise, meaningful homework and check-in sessions.”
Julie Davis, former Executive Director of the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, said this partnership felt more supportive and fruitful. “In other college collaborations that I’ve been a part of, we [the organization] were asked to describe the programs needed, build them and find the students,” she explained. “We typically don’t have the resources to do all of that. Boise State felt like a change in the conversation with their offer of resources and support.”
Creating a customized program for Mountain Home
Mountain Home area business leaders requested information about leading an intergenerational team, servant leadership and a design requiring less commitment than a formal academic program. The Community Impact Program connected Mountain Home to Boise State’s Professional and Continuing Education expertise to create a unique learning program for Mountain Home business leaders, piloted as the Community Leadership Program.
The Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce first offered customized Community Leadership Program sessions to its Board of Directors to test program content and structure.
Chris Devore, Executive Director of the Mountain Home Arts Council and Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce board member, recognized the positive impact of the Community Leadership Program after only a few sessions. “The benefits of the Community Leadership Program cannot be overstated,” he said. “You learn about yourself, your personality and your leadership style. You learn to communicate better with all personalities. You learn to recognize leadership qualities that are outside your own experience. These are lessons that not only impact you professionally but also personally. They are, as crazy as it might sound, life-changing. As a coworker, friend, parent, spouse, coach, teammate — you’re a better person because of this program.”
Speaking on how the Community Leadership Program impacted the business and work of the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors: “We did the program courses as a team, which was powerful. It changed how we run our meetings, and that came from advice and feedback we got in the classes.”
“I’ve taken numerous personality assessments,” Julie Davis said. “I was usually just given information that I didn’t fully understand. With these courses, you can ask questions and figure out how to apply it to better yourself as a leader.”
“The success of your business starts with the leader,” Jeremy Graves explained. “The Community Leadership Program is an opportunity to develop yourself as a leader and position your organization to be successful in your community.”
The future of the Community Leadership Program
Julie Davis sees an opportunity to expand the Community Leadership program in the future. “We want to have businesses join the Community Leadership Program and participate as teams,” she said. “Small businesses in rural communities are often a family affair. We hope this program helps them grow and prepare for the growth of Mountain Home as a whole.”
The Community Impact Program and Professional Continuing Education teams have also begun collaborating with Fruitland Chamber of Commerce leaders to develop their own version of the Community Leadership Program. The program is set to launch in Fruitland in March 2022.
Boise State’s commitment to education in rural Idaho
Boise State continues to extend the boundaries of higher education to rural communities all across Idaho with the Community Leadership Program and Community Impact Program. Both signify the university’s commitment to building a comprehensive education ecosystem with direct access and high-quality pathways to educational opportunities that enhance the social and economic vitality of the student, family, community and state.
“President Tromp and her team are inspirational,” Chris DeVore said. “They want to hear from small communities about their needs and dreams. These programs help us retain the best and brightest. We don’t have to move away from our communities to be successful.”
More about the Community Impact Program and Professional and Continuing Education
In 2019, the Division of Extended Studies at the direction of Boise state President Marlene Tromp, created the Community Impact Program. This unique program connects Boise State innovation to Idaho communities, empowers local leaders to design educational programs that work for their individual communities and improves higher education access for rural Idaho students.
Professional and Continuing Education at Boise State University offers programs designed for professionals who want to reach their fullest potential as leaders, innovators and changemakers. We empower you to make your community a better place to live, work and do business.