March 26, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

 A trip to the state capitol culminated a series of leadership programs for middle school students in Leadership Ballard – a program aimed at helping young people see and understand the importance of leadership.

For the 18 students making the trip from Ballard County to Frankfort, it meant awakening about 3 a.m. and not returning until well after dinnertime. But students said the trip was worth it, as is the leadership program.

Leadership Ballard is in its fourth year and is aimed at middle school students who have been nominated by someone within the school system for their leadership potential, said Paula Jerrell, Ballard County 4-H/Youth Development agent for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. The program helps them understand the importance of leadership, and how leaders can influence others in good or bad ways.

The leadership program includes a number of classes on leadership styles, qualities of a good leader and situational leadership as well as visits with local government leaders and volunteers.

The program began when MeadWestvaco, an area company, approached 4-H and the Ballard County school system about starting a class, Jerrell said. From there the program grew to include other local business sponsors and obtained grants for such activities as the Frankfort trip. This year’s trip was provided by a Community Education grant from the Ballard County school system and Community Education program.

“Part of what we are trying to do in the Leadership Ballard program is to help kids learn about leadership styles, team building, communication skills, manners and etiquette,” Jerrell said. “We try to help them learn to work together and to appreciate each others differences and each others strengths, and to learn to help each other whether that’s being supportive or sometimes taking the lead.”

Jerrell said the program is multidimensional and includes individual instruction using six different lessons, and then participants visit with different leaders on local and state levels.

“It is very important the kids to come to Frankfort and see how our state leaders handle their day-to-day jobs,” said Rana Gordon, director of community education for Ballard County schools. “They are going to be future leaders so they need to see some other leaders in action. Plus, they get to use some of their etiquette and team building as well.”

For Alexis Rodgers, a sixth grader in the program, this month’s trip was her second visit to the state capitol. While in Frankfort, she and the other students visited the Kentucky History Center, toured the state capitol and observed the House of Representatives and Senate in action.

“I think it will be a learning experience and we will learn a lot. We get to see it, not just learn about how it works,” Rodgers said.

Chad Wilson, another student participant, said the Frankfort trip was important since it allowed him and his fellow students to see how leaders work and what they do.      

Back in Ballard County these students will work together to come up with a community service project, develop a plan and then carry out the project sometime before the school year ends.

“It’s not just a class.  We try to help them put into practice what they’ve learned,” Jerrell said.


Paula Jerrell, (270) 665-9118