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Friday, March 4, 2016

2015/2016 Leadership Potter County Graduation

Friday, February 26 was the last session for the 2015/2016 Leadership Potter County Program. Throughout the year, students identify and plan projects for the community, and during the last session they present their projects to their fellow students, steering committee members, and representatives from various groups around the county. At the last session, three team projects were presented including: Memorial Day 5K – Rachel’s Challenge, LPC- Continuing the Climb and PoCo4Life.

The Memorial Day 5K – Rachel’s Challenge was presented by Carla Milliron, Amy Gerhart, Kelly Murray and Sandy Whitman. They proposed holding a 5K race in Coudersport on Memorial Day Weekend to raise funds to bring Rachel’s Challenge to local schools. Rachel Scott was the first student killed in the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. After Rachel was killed, her family created “Rachel’s Challenge,” an anti-bullying and suicide prevention program. It’s now a nationally-recognized intervention program. Milliron, who is a therapist with Dickinson Center, Inc., said some funds have already been raised to bring Rachel’s Challenge to Potter County, and that a 5K race would help bring in more money and also raise awareness about the program.

Caitlin George, James Kinney, Richard Neefe and Jennifer Rossman presented LPC ~ Continuing the Climb, a Facebook page for current and past Leadership Potter County participants. The group proposed integrating the page with future classes, and requiring students to post their assignments, such as finding leadership-related quotes, completing book reports and identifying articles about leadership. The page is fully operational, and is only open to current students and LPC alumni. The group suggested the page would also be a way for past and present students to connect and network for further growth as community leaders.

Presented by Brent Bryant, David Hyde and Kelly Stemcosky, PoCo4Life, or Potter County for Life, is a functioning website for all things volunteer-related in Potter County. The site, at, connects volunteers with organizations that are looking for volunteers. Using two different easy-to-fill-out forms, volunteers answer questions related to times they are available, skills they possess and types of organizations they are interested in. The two parties are then connected via the site administrators. The group also started a Facebook page called PoCo4Life for volunteers to chat and connect and for groups to post about events and fundraisers.

Friday evening, the graduation ceremony and reception for the Leadership Potter County program was held at the PA Lumber Museum, with nearly 70 graduates, family members, planning committee members, and alumni in attendance. Emceeing the evening were Richard Neefe and James Kinney from the graduating class. Also from the class, Kelly Murray, a Galeton High School senior, and Jennifer Rossman, with the PA Route 6 Alliance, shared their insights on what the program has meant to them and why they felt others should take advantage of the opportunity to attend. Following the student remarks, a keynote presentation was given by David Castano, Director of the Potter County Historical Society & Museum, whose speech was entitled “Why Potter County.” The students chose Castano for their speaker based on his knowledge of the county and his commitment to keeping its history alive. After the keynote presentation, graduates were recognized when representatives from the Education Council, Penn State Extension, Congressman Glenn Thompson’s office, Senator Scarnati’s office, and Representative Martin Causer presented the graduates with certificates.

The evening was closed by the graduating class thanking the planning committee for making the Leadership Potter County program possible. The graduates presented the planning committee with a collection of books, all of which were about Potter County and written by Potter County residents. The planning committee members were deeply touched at this gesture, which demonstrated the graduates' commitment to the program, the community, and to their roles as leaders.

Leadership Potter County is currently accepting applications for the 2016/2017 program which is scheduled to begin in late April. For more information or to request an application, contact the Education Council at (814) 274-4877, email, or visit the Education Council website at

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