Braun Experiences LeaderShape

Harley BraunJust by following up on an email, Harley Braun, a freshman studying Agricultural Education, had the amazing opportunity to attend a conference that changed her vision of leadership. “I have always been interested in leadership, especially throughout high school, but getting involved at the U seems kind of scary because there are so many people. So, I thought attending the LeaderShape Institute would be a good way to learn more about how I can be a leader on campus and in the Twin Cities community,” Harley said.   

The LeaderShape Institute was a six-day long conference held at Camp Ihduhapi in Loretto, Minnesota over the week of January 10, 2017. The goal of the Institute is to provide leadership skills for college-aged students. During her time at LeaderShape, Harley learned about her own personal style of leadership, as well as how to work better with others. She also had the opportunity to discuss diversity and inclusion and how to understand other people’s perspectives.        

Throughout the week, students participated in large group discussions and small, family clusters. Harley shared that each day had a different theme. “For example, day one was about building community within your personal relationships, at the U and within your community at home. Day two focused on the value of one and the power of all. We talked about our own personal values, skills, and strengths, and we even did leadership strengths test to see where we placed individually,” she said.

The Minnesota LeaderShape Institute accepts students from the Carlson School of Management, the College of Science and Engineering (CSE), and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Overall, Harley said it was a really awesome experience just to be able to connect with other U of M students on more personal levels. She said, “It was nice to be able to interact with students from different colleges just because you sometimes only hang out with other CFANS majors. It was really good to build those personal relationships, in addition to growing yourself as a leader.”    

From the knowledge gained at LeaderShape, Harley has observed herself applying those principles to her everyday life. “We talked about creating a vision for what we want to see in the future. This vision is huge and broad, and probably not attainable in our lifetime, which is something I’ve never done before,” Harley said. The vision statement Harley created applies to her passion for agriculture, “To end world hunger through sustainable agriculture.” Even though this vision is big, Harley thinks about those steps that need to be taken in order to achieve her vision, and what steps she can be taking right now to get to those larger steps. She said, “This vision really helped me break it down and it forces me to think about how I’m living and how I’m acting out my daily actions that can help me work towards those big goals.” 

Harley emphasized that everyone can make an impact as a leader, “If everyone believed that their individual contributions matter, everyone’s combined actions would make a huge difference in this world. If we all contributed, things could be better.” The biggest impact Harley took away from LeaderShape is the ability to see everyone’s own personal style of leadership. “The conference really helped me reflect on how I have grown individually as a leader, but also how I want to be as a future leader,” Harley said.

For anyone considering application to the LeaderShape Institute, Harley encourages you to just apply! “CFANS is new to the LeaderShape program, so it is a lot less competitive to get in. This is a very expensive conference, and I only had to pay $75 to go. CFANS offers grants to pay for that $75, so you could potentially go to the conference for free. The process to apply was an online application. It was one or two essays, so it really wasn’t that bad” she said.

Expand your knowledge, make connections with others, and see how YOU can grow as a leader. 

Photo Credit: Brandon Roiger