The Flint Hills Regional Leadership Program recently finished its course work and graduation for the 2020-21 program year.

This year marks the 29th class put on by the FHLP and Executive Director Jack Lindquist’s fifth class.  Lindquist was originally worried if and how they were going to hold this year’s class due to COVID.

“We had some very serious, thought provoking discussions about how we were going to have to get really creative under COVID,” says Lindqusit.

Lindquist says they used the 2019-20 class as a model to shape how they will hold this year’s class.  They came up with new ways to contact their people and implement new technology into the program. New funding models were also looked at to fund the program to help lighten the burden on the class members.

One of the graduates, Sarah Keatley, says the board could have easily not held this year’s class due to COVID.

“I have to say, I would have never known that anything had changed or was different other than the standard COVID protocols,” says Keatley.

Keatley, who works for the College of Veterinary Medicine at K-State, praised the board for being creative in making sure the their experience was as close to previous classes as possible.

One of the biggest changes to this year’s program was the class size.  Typically in the past, each class would have 30 people.  To help socially distance, that number was reduced to 20.  Lindquist says the class members’ health was the most important thing.

2020-21 Graduate Zack Bayless, says the reduced class size was actually beneficial to the class members.

“That smaller group kind of brought us all together a little bit closer and I really got to know a lot of different people,” says Bayless.

Bayless was also surprised at the number of people and organizations represented in the class.  This was beneficial to him as they were able to have different opinions and voices heard throughout the program.  Bayless has only been in Kansas for three years and currently works for the City of Manhattan.

The FHLP Board is already looking for class members for the next class, which will have a similar setup to this year.

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