The Boone County Leadership Institute will begin the XXXII year in August. Last year’s 2019-2020 class had their session cut short, but still managed to glean a lot of knowledge about the community, gain new friends, boost their leadership skills, and completed a community project at Christmas.

One of the participants Brandon Cone, from North Arkansas College said, “To be honest, at first I was unsure. The program seemed overwhelming, and I wasn’t sure exactly what I would get of the program. By the end, though, I was looking forward to every formal session as well as the meetings we had as a group outside of those regularly-scheduled outings. I really feel like I learned more about our community and state in the eight-month period I was a part of the Boone County Leadership Institute as I have living my entire life here. And the connections and friendships I’ve made with the other participants is just amazing. I now have a whole new network of people to call upon for help, advice, or just anything else I need. We really did get that close to one another!”

Ty Freeman, Bank OZK said, “I was honestly very excited for the very first day! Sadly, I did not realize our “last” day together was going to be our very last. As always, everything always has to come to an end, however, that is why I chose to help with the Youth Leadership Class for 2021. I just did NOT want this amazing adventure to end!”

Holly Carson, Independent Living said, “The time spent with my fellow team members was very beneficial to me.  I made friends, learned about all of them and the different places they work, and now have a network of a team that I know I can lean on.”

The adult leadership group meets from August until April during a normal year and visits the 4-H Ropes Course in Little Rock. This year they were able to meet with Governor Asa Hutchinson and other elected officials. During the year they attend different meetings such as Quorum Court and City Council meetings to get a feel for local and county government. During the agricultural day, they learned how important agriculture is to the local economy. They toured Harrison Animal Clinic, Cattlemen’s Livestock Auction, the GreenHouse operation at North Arkansas College, learned about the beef industry from Designer Genes and the turkey industry from Lew Thompson and Son Trucking.

Jeannie Lewis, Windstream Communications said, “From the beginning, I felt the program would be beneficial to all of us.”

The team building exercises at the 4-H Ropes Course was a favorite for some and terrifying for others. 

Deborah Ellis said, “My favorite activity was the ropes course at the three day team building camp. The ropes course scared the daylights out of me and I completed only three of the course's activities. My fear was truly mind numbing and body paralyzing. I felt like a complete failure until I realized that there were others there just as afraid. I enjoyed watching my fellow leadership buddies climb the trees and ropes like little spider monkeys. It was mesmerizing to see them in action. I learned that it was OK not to be OK with something. Those of us who were afraid were encouraged and supported by those that were not. We the onlookers from the ground cheered our little monkeys on and celebrated their accomplishments. That three day camp was amazing!”  

Ellis had a unique experience during the year. “Of course being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic was not in my plans — with that said — I feel that my previous employer would have truly benefited from my networking contacts made through leadership. I also feel they would have benefited by my newly gained knowledge of our community and the workings of many of the diverse businesses located in Harrison.  My new employer will gain an employee who is full of confidence, knows about the community and knows some great Boone County Leadership people that I now call friends.”

President/CEO Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bob Largent said, “Community businesses can recognize an outstanding performer and future leader by having that individual participate in BCLI as their representative." Visit for more information or call (870) 741-2659.


Donna has written for the HDT since 1999. When off the clock, she enjoys writing for children, teaching piano lessons and being a pastor's wife. The Braymers have three married sons and daughter-in-laws and 9 grandchildren.

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