Leadership Catoosa

Each Leadership Catoosa class begins its training with an overnight stay at Berry College WinShape Retreat, where students get to know one another and learn about teambuilding. / Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce

Leadership Catoosa is a nine-month course developed by the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce for adults who wish to hone skills and gain working knowledge in areas ranging from teambuilding and networking to economic development, tourism, local and state government, and health and social services. It’s a way to get to know the community so well that you are equipped to become involved at many different levels.

The course starts in September with an overnight stay at Berry College WinShape Retreat. This year, Catoosa Commissioner Ray Johnson is paying to bring in Sandler Training to help with teambuilding training for the incoming Leadership Catoosa class.

From there, one very full day each month is devoted to a different area of learning and training. When students cover local government, they will spend a day meeting local officials from Catoosa County, Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe. They’ll visit courts, tour the county jail and meet with the sheriff, and they’ll hear from leaders in other government departments.

Business month will see students touring and learning about the inside workings of such places as the new BMG Bakery (Dunkin’ Donuts), the Shaw plant, Propex, Ringgold Telephone Company, Heritage Funeral Home, Costco and Blood Assurance.

One day during Health and Social Services month, students will visit such places as North Georgia Healthcare, the YMCA, Georgia Hope, the Family Crisis Center, Catoosa County Department of Family and Children Services, NHC nursing home and the Catoosa County Family Collaborative.

Students join forces one month with Leadership Walker students and spend a day in the state capital visiting with legislators and others who impact life from the state level. Last year students met with the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and made stops to learn from the Natural Resources Department. They met a lobbyist from the pharmaceutical industry and also got to tour the Capitol Museum and get their picture taken with the governor.

Education month means meeting Catoosa schools superintendent Denia Reese and takes students on tours of several local schools where they visit classrooms and hear from teachers. Last year, the Culinary Arts students at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High made lunch for Leadership Catoosa students. Students also visit Georgia Northwestern Technical College and are visited by a representative of Dalton State.

During Economic Development and Tourism month, students meet with someone from Catoosa Economic Development and from the Georgia Visitor Center, and they visit places like the Georgia Winery, Chickamauga Battlefield, the Sixth Cavalry Museum, Elsie Holmes Park and Lake Winnepesaukah.

Each class day, a Chamber member pays for lunch for class members. Between classes, there’s homework, which includes attending some commission, council and civic meetings, a school board meeting and a Chamber function and writing reports on them.

In June, students graduate with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience, better prepared to be true leaders within their community.

Participation in the course is limited to 30 students and to people, aged 18 or older, who are either Chamber members or work for a business or organization that’s a Chamber member. The cost of tuition is $600. “Sometimes,” says Chamber Membership Coordinator Amy Jackson, “an employer is willing cover the cost of tuition.”

The deadline to register is Sept. 5. The course begins Sept. 11. For more information, contact Amy Jackson at 706-965-5201.