Our graduating class has grown together and had a blast doing it. Coming from different backgrounds and different experiences, we found ourselves learning and having fun doing it. Forced to share embarrassing moments on our first day together, we started by writing our own obituaries. What a strange way to learn about a person! However, it was in those moments of sharing each of our own diverse lives and histories that the foundation was laid to become a strong a Leadership Group – working TOGETHER.

Each month we found ourselves trekking to new unknown parts of Butler County on our luxury-chartered couch bus. Joking, it was a standard issue yellow school bus. An “experience” that unless you have been on a child’s classroom fieldtrip, you forget what an “experience” a yellow school bus can be. The lack of air conditioning, fogged windows and high-backed green seats. Also, you better not be late because Stan will leave without you.

From Northern to Southern Butler County, we experienced all types of business and the leaders that sustained those amazing companies. We worked together in a simulation the created several scenarios that was a constructed leadership reaction course. Through one of the courses we found ourselves blindfolded trying to navigate through an obstacle course. This lesson taught us that even great leaders need to learn to ask for help. Which for some of us is easier said than done. We lifted each other up, figuratively and literally. These themes followed us through the rest of our leadership quest, as did the school bus. We found ourselves wearing disposable scrubs that looked like Bunny Suits as we toured Butler Hospital and donning hard hats while searching for fires at BC3 fire training facilities.

We did sample tastings at North Country Brewing and ate candy at Baldingers. We experienced all types of leadership business models and styles of leadership.

Butler County Leadership always comes down to the concept of helping others and this year, like all of those before us, we had to select a project. We selected The Inn by Life Choices. This facility is the only one of its kind in a 3-hour radius. Located near the Clearview Mall, this home helps pregnant women at risk of homelessness. Housing four, and soon to be six women, this place gives hope, guidance and the skills needed to help break the cycle of poverty. Our project encompassed the grounds around The Inn. By building raised planting beds, these women will learn gardening skills that teach them from farm to table how to grow and create meals that nourish both body and mind. House parents help oversee The Inn, its residents and “The Garden of Hope” as our project was doubly named.

At the end of it all, our experience was an amazing one. A year worth of lessons that someone from another class can try to explain to you, however you cannot truly appreciate it until you live the experience for yourself. So tonight, we say “thank you” for joining us! The only thing that could top of this night would be if there was a yellow school bus to shuttle us all back-home tonight… by Wendy Sciullo, Mars Bank, Class Co-Chair.