UACES Facebook LeadAR - Arkansas Leadership Program | Become a local leader in your community
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What is LeadAR?

LeadAR logo

LeadAR is a program designed to help Arkansans broaden their understanding of issues and opportunities facing our state and strengthen their ability to make a difference. LeadAR strengthens participants’ knowledge, skills, and network and empowers them to positively impact communities and advocate for long-term economic development.

Founded in 1984, LeadAR was originally modeled after the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s leadership training program. Now more than three decades later, LeadAR has over 500 alumni serving as leaders in businesses and communities throughout Arkansas, especially in rural and agricultural areas. Past participants include educators, farmers, advocates, bankers, state legislators, lawyers, mayors, quorum court, city council, school board members, and more.

How does LeadAR strengthen your leadership skills?

The LeadAR model employs an interdisciplinary approach to leadership development by championing the intersection of theory, practice, and application.

While exploring the major issues facing Arkansas communities is key to achieving lasting change, LeadAR recognizes that it's not enough. Subject matter experts, leadership theory, communication techniques, experiential leaning opportunities,and critical thinking exercises equip participants with the tools necessary to catalyze change using strategies that are equitable, empowering, and sustainable.

Why should I join LeadAR?

LeadAR is perfect for those who want to:

  • Assume greater leadership responsibilities
  • Understand complex cultural, social and economic issues impacting us today and in the future
  • Improve their ability to interact and work with others
  • Deepen their understanding of social, economic and political systems in order to effectively bring about change
  • Develop critical thinking and decision making skills to become a better citizen and leader
  • Connect to people and resources that can help them make a difference

What is involved?

LeadAR is an 18-month intensive hands-on program. If selected, you will participate in:

  • One three-day team building and goal setting seminar at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center in Little Rock
  • Six two-day seminars located around the state, including tours, guest speakers,and interactive activities
  • Video-conference sessions and other activities between seminars for supplemental learning
  • National study tour to Washington, D.C. to learn about issues and policy making from a national perspective
  • International study tour to learn how international issues and policy impact the U.S. and Arkansas, explore innovations and different approaches used in other countries that we can learn from, and see the world from a different perspective
  • Leadership Service Project to make a positive difference

As a LeadAR participant, you will travel to these different locations across the state and take part in issue-based discussions, skill building exercises, and hands-on activities with your fellow LeadAR class members. One-on-one and small group discussions, expert panels, and site visits will enhance your learning experience on topics encompassing agriculture, education, public health, policy development, criminal justice, natural resources, environmental sustainability, water quality, poverty, cultural diversity, and community and economic development.

LeadAR is an educational program with an array of learning opportunities. As a participant you will be involved in open discussions, facilitation, individual/group presentations, speaker introductions, peer-to-peer coaching, and much more. Along with the seminars, you will be asked to complete assignments on your own and in a group setting. Some of these assignments may include the use of social media, video conferencing, research, and interactions with alumni and other relevant stakeholders. All participants will select, implement,and complete a leadership service project in their local area. Other assignments may include:

Electronic Media: Most communication between LeadAR staff and class participants will be via email and phone.The class will use an online platform for other assignments and group work. All evaluations will be web-based and completed after each seminar. Video conferencing will be utilized throughout the program between seminars to enhance the learning opportunities and maintain participant engagement throughout the program.

Reading: Books and articles will be recommended. These readings are designed to prepare participants for upcoming seminar programs and other homework.

Public Speaking/Presentations: You will gain experience in public speaking through a variety of experience and activities. This includes but is not limited to self-introductions, impromptu speaking, speaker introductions, presiding over sessions, individual/group presentations, and group facilitation.

Assessments: Part of the program involves increasing your self-awareness as a leader. A variety of assessment instruments, peer-to-peer coaching, and individualized coaching will be used to accomplish this.

Seminar Evaluation: You will be expected to complete an anonymous online survey evaluation after each seminar. These serve as very important reflection tools that help to complete the adult learning cycle and allow all participants to gain insights from their classmates. They also help us improve the program. Evaluation summaries will be shared with participants and programs sponsors. Additionally, these surveys help LeadAR staff with program effectiveness and delivery.

Program educational philosophy: LeadAR has been specifically developed to “grow leaders from the inside out.” This concept is based on leader development research showing that to become a person of influence and an effective leader, one must first understand yourself. LeadAR follows adult learning principles indicating that adults learn best through a continuous cycle of instruction, practice, feedback, and reflection (Kolb). LeadAR utilizes a transformative learning approach, which transforms the learner from a receiver of information to a learning initiator, information seeker, problem solver, and evaluator. LeadAR program content is designed to provide opportunities to develop, self-awareness, enhance self-motivation, and hone self-regulation.

Tolerance, respect, and open-mindedness: As a LeadAR participant, you will be exposed to points of view, value systems, allegiances and individual beliefs that may conflict with your own perspectives. We believe that exposure to these differing points of view optimizes learning through cultivating rigorous and challenging learning environments–environments that champion the notion of common ground and empathy. We do not expect you to change your beliefs or values, but we do expect that you will consider others’ viewpoints in an environment of tolerance and mutual respect.

Non-partisan, non-political: LeadAR provides an intensive learning opportunity on topics that include government, the political process, and lobbying. It is important to remember that we do not advocate one political ideology over another. LeadAR does not endorse candidates or take a position on political/legislative issues, and participants should refrain from portraying themselves as representing the program when engaged in such activities. While we hope you will get involved in the political process, our role is to teach you how to be more effective in those roles rather than dictate a specific agenda.

Room Assignments: You will share a room with a classmate of the same gender at all seminars and study tours except those where spouses/partners are invited. Room assignments will be rotated so that each participant will room with a different classmate throughout the program. Program staff will make the room assignments.This programmatic component is well established and non-negotiable.

Dress Code: Leaders in general -and representatives of the LeadAR Program in particular -are expected to present themselves in a manner appropriate for the settings in which we operate. Dress codes for specific portions of our program will usually be suggested in seminar agendas.

Participants should use good judgment. Our dress code will be listed as one of three categories, with the following descriptions:

Business Attire: To be worn in formal settings

  • Men –suit (or sports coat and slacks), dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes
  • Women –business suit or business dress, dress shoes

Business Casual: The most frequent dress code for seminars

  • Men –sport coat or sweater (depending on weather), dress or collared shirt (tie optional), slacks or khakis (no jeans), dress shoes
  • Women –Dress slacks or khakis (no jeans), skirt, dress shirt or blouse, dress shoes

Casual: Infrequent; used only on travel days, free time, and some tours

  • Men –Casual slacks (or clean, neat jeans), collared shirt, casual shoes
  • Women –Casual slacks or skirt (or clean, neat jeans), shirt or blouse, or dress, casual shoes

Selection for the LeadAR Program is very competitive. We select individual participants who not only want to develop their leadership skills but who also want to develop lasting relationships and effect lasting change for Arkansas communities. When you miss a seminar, you not only diminish your ability to benefit from this program, but you also compromise your classmates’ opportunity to learn from you.

Furthermore, tuition covers only a fraction of the full cost of participation in LeadAR. Program sponsors and donors make significant investments in your leadership potential. These individuals and organizations have a legitimate right to expect a return on that investment, which is jeopardized by a failure to fully participate in the program.

Finally, much of what we do in the program builds upon material covered in earlier seminars. If one seminar is missed, it is often difficult or impossible to comprehensively catch up. You are not just expected to show up at seminars; you are expected to participate fully and productively from start to finish of each seminar unless prior arrangements have been made with the program director.

For these reasons and more, we set a very high attendance expectation. We expect ALL class members to be at ALL seminars, ALL the time. That said, we realize that as busy adult professionals, sometimes circumstances beyond your control may prevent your full participation. Unexpected health emergencies, a death in the family, a true crisis at work or a previously scheduled, major commitment, may be grounds for an excused absence. (Note that simply being “too busy” is not an acceptable excuse; it is more an indicator of poor planning and time management.)

No matter the cause, each absence should be brought to the attention of LeadAR staff as soon as possible and before the seminar begins. With the multiple modes of communication available today (telephone, e-mail, text message), there is no excuse for lack of communication in advance. Each absence will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and excessive absences may be grounds for dismissal from the program.

The LeadAR Advisory Council has established specific guidelines for dealing with absences. As a general rule, absences will be excused for:

  • Family Emergencies
  • Natural Disasters
  • Illness
  • Court Subpoena

Other absences will be reviewed by the LeadAR Advisory Council. Penalties and disciplinary actions will be imposed for excessive unexcused absences.

In year one you will travel to Washington D.C. where you will explore the complexities of policy development alongside law makers and policy experts. Additionally, you will meet with top-level officials representing government agencies, nonprofits, and industry. You will also meet with your congressional delegation and their top aides to discuss current issues facing your own communities and how they can be addressed.

In year two you will have the opportunity to travel to a different country for seven to ten days. This study tour offers the opportunity to meet with a broad array of leaders including ambassadors, farmers, government ministers, corporate executives, nonprofit leaders,and other stakeholders. Through this hands-on approach, participants will explore different global issues and political dynamics—issues such as politics, economics, trade, commerce, education, culture and agriculture—and compare them to the United States.

Since the program began, LeadAR class members have visited 34 countries. The country selected for the international study tour is determined by the LeadAR Advisory Council with approval by the UA System Division of Agriculture’s Associate Vice President for Agriculture–Extension. Travel locations are selected based on current events, learning opportunities, and in-country resources that support the program’s educational objectives and safety of the participants.

Note: If you believe that you might have professional or personal obligations that might preclude you from participating in all the program seminars and activities, please reach out to the program director to discuss the specifics of your situation before applying.

As part of the program completion, you will plan and implement a Leadership Service Project. This will require you to identify a community need, design a project and implement the project aimed at improving the quality of life for their communities. Past projects have included building a local library, applying for grants to secure restrooms for a public park, and the development of the annual Goat Festival located in Perryville, AR.

Date (2023-2024)

Session Theme


May 24-26, 2023

Goal Setting and Team Building

Ark. 4-H Center, Little Rock, AR

June 23, 2023

Ethical Leadership

Virtual/Via Zoom

July 27-28, 2023

Infrastructure and Public Health

Hot Springs, AR

August 25, 2023

Introduce Leadership Service Projects (LSP) and
National Study Tour (NST) Preparation

Virtual/Via Zoom

September 17-23, 2023

National Study Tour (NST)

Washington D.C.

October 27, 2023

Debrief NST Experience & Public Policy Prep.

Virtual/Via Zoom

November 16-17, 2023

Agriculture: Livestock, Poultry, and Local Food

Northwest, AR

January 25-26, 2024

Public Policy and Media

Little Rock, AR

February 23, 2024

LSP Updates

Virtual/Via Zoom

March 14-15, 2024

Community and Economic Development

Northeast, AR

April 26, 2024

Communication/Story Telling

Virtual/Via Zoom

May 23-24, 2024

Natural Resources and Defense

Golden Triangle

June 28, 2024

Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion

Virtual/Via Zoom

 July 25-26, 2024 Agriculture: Row Crop

Stuttgart, AR

August 23, 2024

International Study Tour (IST) Preparation

Virtual/Via Zoom

September 2024

International Study Tour (IST)


October 25, 2024

Debrief IST Experience

Virtual/Via Zoom

November 14-15, 2024


Determined by the Class

Tuition for LeadAR is $3,500. This covers seminar expenses, including most lodging, most meals, travel expenses while at the seminar (e.g.,bus tours), and other seminar expenses (e.g.,materials, admission fees). If you need flexible payment options, contact LeadAR staff, to set up a payment plan.

You are welcome to seek tuition support from outside sources. Employers often recognize the value of the LeadAR program and may be willing to assist with tuition payment. In the event of financial hardship, where full tuition cannot be secured, scholarships are available to assist with payment. Scholarship requests should be made in writing to LeadAR staff by your interview date. It is the participant’s responsibility to pursue these financial aid options, and to ensure that all tuition charges are paid in full.

As a participant you will be responsible for travel to and from each seminar, additional lodging costs are not included in the seminar schedule (i.e.,one or more nights before the start or after the end of a seminar), some meals (relatively few), tips, incidental expenses at hotels (e.g., room service, movies, etc.), and alcoholic beverages. The program makes every effort to keep these out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.

Most group meals will be arranged and paid for by the program. LeadAR staff will make every attempt to accommodate special dietary requirements (e.g., food allergies, diabetic requirements) for group meal functions. However, it may not be possible to accommodate all requests in all locations. If you have special dietary requirements, you may want to bring provisions for these situations.

Who is qualified to apply?

The selection process is intended to attract and secure the most promising, highest quality candidates from Arkansas. As an applicant, you should demonstrate potential to improve leadership skills that will benefit Arkansas communities and contribute to the learning experience of your classmates.

Program qualifications include:

  • Applicant must be an Arkansas resident.
  • Applicant must be at least 25 years old by the first seminar

Close relatives (spouses, siblings, or children/parents) will not be selected for the same class. Each class selected will be representative of Arkansas’ diverse population and cultures, geography, professional responsibilities, and related industries.

All applications will be considered impartially regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Up to 30 participants will be selected for the upcoming class. Class representation will be sought from several sectors with the following goals for composition: 25% from agriculture, 25% urban, and 50% rural participants. A selection committee approved by the LeadAR Advisory Council and Extension administration will screen applications, interview, and recommend candidates for the program.

Selection Procedures

The selection process is governed by the LeadAR Advisory Council. The Council’s selection committee will screen applications, interview candidates, and recommend the class roster for Council approval. Applicant scores are determined by application responses (75 points) and the interview (25 points) for an overall score of 100 points.

Application Timeline:

  • Applicants are required to submit an application online no later than February 24, 2023.
  • Applicants will provide four references and the employer consent form to move forward in the selection process.
  • The Selection Committee will screen applications and select candidates to interview.
  • The program director will contact candidates for interviews.
  • Interviews will be conducted March 6-17 (when applying, please hold these dates on your schedule).
  • All applicants will be notified of Class 20 selection status by March 31, 2023.


Eagle Sponsors

The LeadAR program has provided leadership development training for 40 years.

Download the 40 year anniversary publication. 
LeadAR 40 Year Anniversary Celebration (2024)

Watch "LeadAR. Legendary." video.
Link to video.

View compilation of photos. 
Link to photos



Download the 30 year anniversary publication. 
LeadAR 30 Year Anniversary Celebration (2015)