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AALP Class 13 North American Study Tour Day 5

Individual responsibility leading to accidental leadership

July 9, 2010 - State College, PA - The hospitality and generosity of our counterpart leadership program in Pennsylvania led by JD Dunbar, CEO of RULE continues…

Our session opened with a touching interpretation of the American and Canadian national anthems led by Commissioner Erick Coolidge, a dairy farmer in Tioga County PA and Andrew Chisholm from AALP Class 13. The morning began with a panel discussion on the Marcellus Shale, a formation that encompasses parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Estimated to contain 489 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, over 100 years supply, the shale in exploitation is affecting the economic, social and environmental sustainability of rural areas of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

John Nikoloff from Pennsylvania Energy Resources Group provided a comparative perspective with Ontario about renewable energy. Their 25-’25 initiative will see 25 % of total energy production by 2025 from renewable energy. From the discussion, we can say that leaders in rural Pennsylvania have decided to take this challenge as an opportunity to raise the awareness of their citizens. Significant differences between regulations in Canada and USA lead the class to worry about environmental issues related to shale expansion. Education through communication, research and training is essential for the community to harness the potential of the resource and reduce the negative impact.

Following was a presentation on the national American rural healthcare perspectives, in particular in Pennsylvania. In the United States, twenty percent of US citizens do not have insurance coverage in a healthcare system ranked 37th among the World Health Organization (WHO) member countries, and over 100,000 people die each year because of a lack of medical care. On hearing these stats the class realised that despite all the issues we might have in Canada, we are privileged to have access to a universal health care system. Nevertheless, after the presentation, we all agreed that there is a need to take our own responsibility to maintain affordable healthcare in the future through educating good healthy habits.

The day ended with a visit to The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in the attractive and vibrant downtown core of State College. Rick Bryant, Executive Director, provided an introduction to the festival showcasing over 300 artists selected for the occasion. During five days 125,000 visitors will be enjoying the largest festival of its kind. Enrichment and education of the audience is the mission of the festival, which is directed by a local leader who has been involved since he was a teenager working as part of the trash crew for the event. Rick is a good example of accidental leadership, through his involvement in his community.

Finally, a subgroup of the class went to visit a creamery and met Joe Meyer, a third generation farmer who opened a dairy in 1970 called Meyer Dairy. They are now milking 160 cows and processing 800 gallons of milk per day. It was an impressive production system and collection of antique machinery. It was an accidental meeting with another local leader…

Gunther Csoff, Michel-Antoine Renaud and Amadou Thiam – AALP Class 13

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