Two from NDSU gain leadership skills

NDSU Agriculture Communication
Farm Forum

For North Dakota State University Extension agent Dena Kemmet, participating in LEAD21 was the opportunity of a lifetime.

LEAD 21 is a one-year leadership development program for individuals in research, academics and Extension from land-grant institutions such as NDSU and their strategic partners throughout the U.S.

Kemmet, NDSU Extension’s family and community wellness agent in Mercer County, and Todd West, a professor, the assistant dean for academic programs in NDSU’s College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources, the NDSU horticulture undergraduate program coordinator and director of the NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program, were among 90 people who recently completed the program. They were in the program’s 15th class.

During the past year, they met regularly with their peers in person and virtually to enhance their leadership skills. They focused on three levels of leadership: understanding themselves, understanding how they interact with groups and how they interact at the institutional level.

Kemmet and West are grateful they were selected to participate in LEAD21.

“It is awesome when an organization makes an investment in their employees,” Kemmet says.

“This was an opportunity to learn how my individual leadership style can best be used in whatever position I hold,” she adds. “Being a good leader isn’t a job title. It’s knowing how to make a difference wherever you are.”

West says: “LEAD21 was an amazing program and I am grateful to have been able to be a part of this experience. As a graduate of this program, my leadership skills and leadership toolbox have been enhanced. I have a much better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a leader and have resources for improvement.

“This program has increased my awareness of how to interact and lead effectively in the land-grant system,” he notes.

“Investing in our people is a key cornerstone of how we strengthen our organization,” says Greg Lardy, vice president of Agricultural Affairs at NDSU. “Programs like LEAD21 prepare people to be leaders and to grow professionally and personally. Hats off to Todd and Dena for taking the time to invest in themselves.”

LEAD 21 is led by the policy committees of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and its partners. The University of Georgia provides program oversight and management.

From left: Brian Kowalkowski, LEAD21 board chair, from the College of Menominee Nation; Dena Kemmet; Todd West; and Mike O’Neill, LEAD21 program chair, from the University of Connecticut.