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Helping communities choose their future

Leadership and Civic Engagement

Through education and consultation, Extension's Leadership and Civic Engagement (LCE) Team helps communities and community groups come together, solve problems, make decisions, and strengthen local leadership. The web resources here will help you bring a program to your community, learn about important topics in leadership and civic engagement, and connect with current initiatives that are helping communities throughout Minnesota thrive.

Programs, Offerings & Testimonials

Cohort program transforms
community leaders Read more

We help emerging, existing and elected leaders grow their skills, confidence, and willingness to lead through long-term cohort groups and local training sessions.


"This program has been the single, most significant value of my time in many years. It has helped me to grow personally, which in turn will produce years of payback to my community, my state and my nation."
— MARL participant

"I believed — but now I can act on the belief — that communities are strongest where individuals own their way of life and what it takes to keep it."
—Isanti County U-Lead program participant

"I now understand why people think so differently and how to use that as an asset instead of an adversary."
— Emerging Leader Program participant

"If the intent of the U-Lead Academy is to send us back to our communities with eagerness to serve the public and an understanding of leadership roles, it certain has accomplished that."
— ULAA participant

"I believe it brought to light how important it is to work together as a "team" and how important each and every person is to the development and improvement of our communities."
— Emerging Leader Program participant

"I learned a great deal about communicating with legislators. I know personally my state senator and representative. They have asked me to communicate with them on issues I have knowledge of."
— MARL participant

Leadership makes a difference View more alumni stories.

Connecting Communities

Big congrats to the Connecting Nicollet County Leadership program, recipient of the Association of Minnesota Counties award for outstanding county achievement. Read more

Through bridging programs that bring representatives from communities together, participants learn about their area, build their leadership and civic engagement skills, and generate social capital important for addressing their local and regional issues.


Many places I drive by each day and have never gone inside. The pride in presenters was wonderful. Clarissa did a great job each month. Thank you to everyone involved in this Building Brown County network program.
— Bridging Brown County participant

The insight and knowledge has helped to make me a better leader at work and in my community. The experiences gained through networking and business tours raised my level of awareness of the many successes and opportunities throughout McLeod County. Who knew that knowing more about myself would allow me to better understand others! MFT is a must for development of leaders.
— McLeod for Tomorrow Program participant

Enjoyed the intergenerational presentation which really helped me re-think how I interact w/ different coworkers and customers.
- Bridging Brown County participant

The program helped me understand how our community works and different activities and knowledge and how to work with the members of the community.
— Emerging Leader participant

I believe that decisions made through community-based processes are more durable and last longer if there is real citizen buy-in on the front end. If you can get people engaged in what the problem was in the beginning rather than coming with solutions, that's even better because they get involved in a community. And once they have this skill they can transfer it to other issues. It brings out their creativity.
— League of Minnesota Cities staff member

The McLeod for Tomorrow Program has accelerated my knowledge of McLeod County as a transplant to this area. It has allowed me to better understand the needs of the county and the incredible programs, communities, partnerships and opportunities that exist. I am more confident in my ability to jump into issues and know I have many other supportive people to ask for help.
— McLeod for Tomorrow Program participant

Bridging Brown County has broken down barriers and taken away some of the competitiveness among communities. It also helps representatives of the various government units better understand each other's spending needs and financial challenges.
— City Council President

Leadership makes a difference View more alumni stories.

Raised hands

'We the people' - Making it real
Minnesota's voter turnout is impressive - almost 19 percent higher than the rest of the nation's over the past decade. But, is voting all it takes to sustain a thriving democracy? More

Because decisions affect community members, better decisions are made when informed decisions are consulted. We help public leaders consider proactive ways to engaged the public in public decisions through our ResourceFull™ civic engagement model.


It is nice to know someone is curious about our opinions and that something we say is going to help someone down the line.
— ABE Participant

One learner said 'I don't even have my GED and you want my opinion!' It was an excellent way to build self esteem and confidence in our learners.
— ABE Participant

Leadership makes a difference View more alumni stories.

Social Capital

Social capital — the bonds, bridges and links that exist among people in a community — make a big difference. We offer workshops about social capital, and offer an assessment tool that help communities understand the social capital in their community.

  • Learn about social capital
  • Assess your community's social capital


Life is easier in a community blessed with a substantial stock of social capital.
— Robert Putnam, "Bowling Alone: Collapse and Revival of American Community"

Leadership makes a difference View more alumni stories.

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