Ottumwa Leadership Academy graduates its first class

The Leadership Academy building will be ready in mid-July.

The first-ever class of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy will be graduating Thursday.

The class began in September and each month, focused on a different aspect of Ottumwa and Wapello County, such as local government, business and media.

Each of the participants also worked on a community project throughout the course, that focused on issues like food insecurity or the revitalization of downtown Ottumwa. At Thursday's graduation, their accomplishments will be rewarded with a plaque and ceremony, but hopefully, what they learned during the academy will carry over into leadership roles in the community.

"We really hope that this has inspired them to get engaged in the community in some way or another," said Hollie Tometich, Executive Director of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy. "Maybe there's a non-profit board that they are interested in sitting on, maybe they just want to get involved in an organization they've never heard of before or maybe they want to run for a city council or county supervisors seat. Whatever they're passionate about, that's what we really want them to go after and get involved in the community with."

Tometich said by far the most popular day was the one focused on industry, business and agriculture, when the participants took a tour of the John Deere building. There is a curriculum committee in place to review the surveys taken after each month's activities to review what worked and what needs to be changed for next year.

The next Leadership Academy will begin this September and the Legacy Foundation is already accepting applications. To apply, visit the Legacy Foundation's website.

The second Leadership Academy will also have a new building to call home. The Academy's headquarters on Main Street is scheduled to be complete in mid-July.