Learned that I can effectively work with people that I have nothing in common with. Learned who we can work with and what we can expect from both old and new leaders. Learned that some of the people I thought would most benefit from working toward our goal fizzled out. It's refreshing to meet people as interested in achieving our common goals as we are. I don't want the momentum that we started with to end.
I would not be the leader I am today without RDI. I first participated in one of their programs in 2008, as a sophomore in high school in a community leadership program. Through that class, and my follow-up participation as one of the facilitators for the next cohort, I discovered my vocation in public service. Yet again, in the year following RDI provided the opportunity to build my leadership skills as RDI staff encouraged a friend and I to present a workshop at their Regards 2 Rural conference, even as 'just' a college freshman. I can't thank RDI enough for the relationships, skills, and life path they have given me.
Late in 2015, I was accepted into the Yamhill Valley 2016 Ford Institute Leadership Program. During the past year, along with dozens of other local county residents, I've actively participated in 48 hours of intense leadership training designed to develop leadership skills in order to create community-based change. It truly has been life-changing - not just for me and the other participants - but for the residents of this region who will benefit from community leaders who have learned how to build and sustain community capital. Honestly, I knew it was a good program (I've been trying to get into it for years) but I didn't know just how good until I invested over 200 hours of my own time in the training, homework assignments, readings, and cohort project. These are lessons that I will put to use in making my community a better place. RDI invested in me and I will pay it forward , resulting in a better Oregon.
I was in the last Grants Pass, OR cohort. It was a wonderful experience. We learned about teamwork, problem solving, reaching consensus, and resolving issues. Our project beautified the three major entrances to town with welcome signs.
I was also a part of their First Impressions review of our town which has allowed the city to improve the look of the community for tourism. RDI is a wonderful organization that invests in rural Oregon!
I am currently enrolled in the RDI/Ford Family Foundation Cohort 3 in Grants Pass. We are now into completing our project, two new welcoming signs at main entrances to the city's historic downtown. Our project was well planned, but as with any large project, we have encountered a hiccup or two. Without the training we received from RDI & the FFF we would not have been able to overcome these hurdles as easily as we have. We have learned teamwork, overcoming problems, resolution of disparate ideas & ways of problem solving. I know we will be much more effective leaders in our community thanks to these two organizations. I look forward to continued involvement in both.
I took part in the introduction to grant writing course provided by Meredith Howell for RDI, presented at SWOCC. The presentation of information on grant sources, how funders evaluate and select projects, and all the myriad details of the process was surprisingly comprehensive, delivered in an enjoyable way. There were many templates and example materials which served both for instruction AND for direct application later for writing purposes. I have saved all the materials and refer to them during various steps of grant application preparation. The course prepared me very well to be ready when an opportunity came to assist a community group developing a secure drug disposal program throughout our extended local area. Several others in the class have been successful in their writing for a variety of groups in the area.
RDI put together a comprehensive training program for leaders in eastern Oregon. We had trouble finding a project on our confederated tribal land. It was our goal as RDI has done several projects in Pendleton, Oregon. The majority of our group was either employed by or tribal members. The Leadership training provided by RDI built our compromising skills so that, although the project occurred in Pendleton, both the tribal affiliates and the non-tribal affiliates could find satisfaction in the project. Diligence was a major factor in our project - an outdoor revitalization handicapped by rain all day and graffiti taggers. We completed the revitalization, thwarting the taggers efforts to become famous.
I was lucky enough to be part of the RDI training here in Merlin, Oregon. At first I had problems with the whole concept of ground up community improvement. I did not personally think it was worth time and effort.
Not being in love with the whole bureaucratic broo ha ha of any government focused enterprise, I wasn't expecting much other than normal political jargon, hot air and promises by a bunch of self important stuffed suits.
Now that I have said that ( I feel so much better, The truth will set you Free!!!! ) I can tell you that I could not have been further from the truth!!!! Right from the first session I began to learn about and enjoy what RDI had to offer! The " stuffed suits " that I had been so sure were going to test the limits of my BS 'O'meter, never materialized! Instead, I was greeted by some of the most knowledgeable , funny and truly Community concerned people I have known! This fact never , not once , changed stride! Even the guest instructors were above and beyond informative and interesting people. ( My ages old concept of political stuffed suits was rapidly losing ground! )
During the whole course, the idea of normal ( who sets those standards ??? ) people changing their community or setting change in motion was the driving concept of the RDI instructors. We learned so many things about people in general , about how to interact with others to meet a mutually desired goal. Networking, interpersonal communications, task assignments, voting and debating in a respectful manner to reach the end result of helping a community.
Then, when all the book learning and practical examples ( of which there are several ) are over, the class gets to put all of their new found knowledge to the test by creating an Event ( in our case ) from start to finish, all under the watchful and caring eyes of our wonderful instructor team!!
In this course I learned so much, I became convinced that a person can grow a concept into a team effort to help their community! This is a fantastic course, well worth the time and effort to attend. Given the chance, take this course, you will build relationships, friendships and your community ! can't ask for better than that!
Our Cohort is now considering the possibility of building a better event next year!
My husband and I took the class together to learn how we could incorporate leadership skills in our community. In doing so, we met a great group of local people who had the same goals and many more contacts than we thought were possible. Our event project was a real eye opener to how much can be accomplished if everyone works together. Our teachers and their associates did a wonderful job of sharing their experiences and valuable information on what works and things to avoid. They let us make our own decisions, but guided us along a path that would lead to a positive outcome. The food was also outstanding! Our confidence has been increased and we now feel that we have many useful tools that can be used in our future community relationships. Thank you!
RDI did a wonderful job with their Learn By Doing grants workshop. Our organization has a number of grants in the works as a result of this workshop, and it has helped us re-think the way we fund our programs. I highly recommend that any organization thinking about applying for grant funding attend this workshop.
I have the pleasure of volunteering for RDI's Grant Writing Seminar, as well as participating in the Ford Institute for Leadership Training that they implement - both trainings were incredibly informative, very helpful, and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I definitely appreciate all that they do and the way that they handle themselves.