The Arc Jefferson - St. Lawrence
The Arc Jefferson – St. Lawrence supported three staff members to attend the St. Lawrence Leadership Institute (SLLI) through SUNY Potsdam during the past school year. Erin Armstrong, Community Resources Manager; Tim Neuroth, Professional Development Educator; and Kolby Weaver, Community Relations Associate had excellent experiences with the program and are grateful that the agency sponsored their participation.
Tim Neuroth stated, “For me, the greatest benefits of being involved in the Leadership Institute were the networking and the things I learned from people ‘in the field.’ I found myself looking forward to hearing from the various panelists. I also enjoyed learning from my classmates and making connections that will be maintained for years to come.”
The Leadership Institute is offered through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education at SUNY Potsdam. Its mission is to foster the development of future and existing leaders in the County. The program runs for 10 months and the class meets the first Thursday of each month at locations throughout the entire county.
Armstrong, Neuroth, and Weaver collaborated with another student from the class to work on their final presentation project, which they entitled, “Know Your Vote.” This idea stemmed from a class in October on “Government” that included local elected officials.
Weaver, who at the time was not a registered voter, was inspired by the session to become more educated about local politics and even registered to vote! He began to do some research on candidates in his local area but was disappointed with the lack of information available.
“Being a St. Lawrence County native my whole life, I was surprised to hear about local issues that I was previously not informed about,” said Kolby Weaver. “I have also been able to learn a lot about myself and find new ways to contribute to our community.”
To meet the goal of encouraging voting at the local level, the group created the website, www.slcknowyourvote.com to provide concise information about candidates running at the county level and in each of the “Big 5” local St. Lawrence County districts.
To get this information, the group contacted every candidate that submitted signed petitions in the selected areas. So, the information listed on the site and its accompanying Facebook are details submitted by the candidates. The SLC Board of Elections partnered with the team to get support and up-to-date statistics for the project.
Even though the class is over, the group will continue growing the website, with hopes that it will further include all towns and be sustained with the assistance of other local groups and/or the county.
“The St. Lawrence Leadership Institute has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience for me,” said Erin Armstrong. “I made incredible connections with a diverse number of people and places in our own county, some of which I had no idea existed. This opportunity to be involved has been fascinating and truly invaluable.”