37 seventh graders from throughout the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area participated in LEAD 2017. The program was held on the campus of Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, from June 4-8, 2017.

LEAD is robust, one-of-a kind youth leadership program that utilizes immersive experiences to empower emerging leaders to develop leadership qualities. We specifically select students who have the potential to be leaders but may not see it in themselves. Participants spend a full week exploring the qualities that made Abraham Lincoln such a great leader in his day. They learn why those same qualities are so important in our leaders today, and how, as individuals, they can apply those qualities as they develop their own leadership skills for the future.

While participating in LEAD, students explored Lincoln’s life and times by visiting various historic sites throughout the National Heritage Area, where they saw how individuals were able to make a difference in their communities and effect change in their state and their nation. The challenges faced by Lincoln and other leaders in the 19th century, the students learned, remain deeply relevant today. Before returning home, students discussed the leadership qualities of honest, empathy, humility and perseverance before developing a plan for incorporating those qualities into their everyday lives.

“I learned to be a better leader this week,” one student said. “I was taught how to make my own footsteps.” Another praised the sites’ value of learning about Lincoln’s life and “the lessons we could draw from it.”

LEAD is a public-private partnership between Looking for Lincoln, Union Pacific Railroad, Illinois College, 4H University of Illinois Extension, Lincoln Home National Historic Site/National Park Service, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, Niemann Foods (County Market), the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

For more information visit: http://www.lookingforlincoln.com/LEAD/lead.aspx