Chamois Adults Train to be Leaders

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CHAMOIS - For more than six weeks, Chris Froment spent Tuesday nights learning to improve his leadership skills. Froment attends Step Up to Leadership classes at the Lions Community Center in Chamois, Mo.

"I started learning that I needed training on how to deal with committees and non-profit organizations, and this training offered all that," Froment said.

Although he said the program has not had much of an effect on interactions at his job at a plastic manufacturing plant, leadership training helps Froment stay involved at the Chamois United Methodist Church. He and Pastor Frank Husted have organized a youth group on Sunday nights for the past couple of years.

"We give something for the kids to do, you know it keeps them out of trouble for a couple hours a night," Froment said. "About a dozen kids regularly attend the youth group, but in a town of less than 400 people, residents say that is a significant amount."

Martha Ray co-teaches the class. Ray serves as a community services specialist with Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA). CMCA started the program in 2005, and this is the first year the class met in Chamois.

"They recognize some of the things they're learning here and how that can make a difference in their own committee work," Ray said.

CMCA, the University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Association for Community Action, Inc. develop curriculum for the program to include training on improving listening skills among other topics.

"We talk a lot about what they're going to face when they work on a team, whether it's an advisory board in their community, the school board, a city council meeting and they want to participate. They're going to know," Ray said.

The program is designed for low-income residents of Osage County. A CMCA description of Step Up to Leadership cites it is also geared toward people who want to work well in groups and develop strong working partnerships.

"You can work in a group. You don't have to be ashamed or embarrassed to have an opinion," participant Theresa Walter said of the training.

It was also developed to prepare participants to serve on the CMCA board of directors. CMCA serves Audrain, Howard, Cooper, Moniteau, Cole, Callaway and Osage Counties. Step Up to Leadership was offered in Osage County for the first time in Linn, Mo. last year. The program also lasts 12 weeks.