Ashlee Siegle does not want to be one of only a few local high school graduates who build a future in White County. So she made a commitment to her community by participating in Leadership White County, a program that Purdue Extension partners on to develop new leaders.
“I want to raise my family in this community and watch it not just survive but thrive,” she says.
After participating in the leadership program, she decided to help other young adults see White County as a permanent home after college. Siegle is now coordinator of the new White County Youth Chamber. The goal is to help teens meet and connect with others who have community-minded goals.
“I love to see the excitement in their eyes, and hopefully this will help give them, too, a reason to come back,” she says.
In its second year, the Youth Chamber recently participated in a day of activities aimed at fostering leadership and cooperation. With 40 members, their community-service activities include collecting school supplies for elementary students and donating 150 skeins of yarn to make blankets and hats for cancer patients.
Purdue Extension helps strengthen the economic development of rural communities. And Leadership White County is an example of one such effort that evolved from the state’s successful Hometown Competitiveness Program. This approach to rural community development works by supporting entrepreneurship, emphasizing wealth and youth retention, and growing leadership in the county.