Program ‘makes an enduring impact’

Published 11:55 am Tuesday, June 6, 2017

As many of you know, I am leaving Farmville for new adventures on the West Coast.

Farmville will always hold a special place in my heart. Leadership Farmville, a program I have been honored to help lead, is one example of what makes this community special.

We are a community that not only has a big heart but also the will and energy to make a difference.

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What’s the best thing about Leadership Farmville?

According to past participants, it’s making community connections that can make a difference.

Leadership Farmville is a program developed and run by the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce that encourages and prepares people to be leaders in their home, workplace and community.

The program runs for seven months at a time, with sessions devoted to subjects that affect community growth and quality of life, including governmental operations, leadership, education, economic development and community service.

It has been running for over 20 years; the class of 2016-17 was the largest to date, with 27 participants.

Past participants have emphasized that the program has helped them learn to make a difference, given them resources and opportunities to be actively involved in the community, and given them knowledge about Farmville’s government, services and activities.

Participants particularly enjoy the visit to the Virginia General Assembly, where they learn the workings of government.

Participants are divided into groups and each group develops a project to improve our community.

Many of these projects are implemented and have far-reaching effects.

For example, the Summer Film Series at Crute Stage was originally a Leadership Farmville project. 

The 2016-17 program included seven groups that developed projects ranging from a Unity Public Art Project to show how we are all united, to a tourism website covering seven counties (the website has already gone live).

Two of this year’s projects were accepted as finalists for the downtown Farmville SOUP Event.

The volunteer fair was a new addition to the class this year and one the chamber hopes to continue to host.

The idea was to have Leadership Farmville participants present their final projects with agencies and organizations who are looking for members and volunteers.

While the fair was intended for the Leadership Farmville participants, the chamber opened it up to the community in hopes that people would make connecting with their community a New Year’s resolution.

This is one small example of Farmville’s uniqueness.

Farmville has a sense of place and community. Farmville is unique in the passion of its residents and the goodwill of its business owners and civic organizations.

As I pursue a new chapter in my life, I will always look back fondly at the big heart and calloused hands of this community — the heart and hands that make Farmville what it is.

It’s a place I will always be proud to call home.

Ellen Masters worked at Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College before moving to Oregon. Her email address is