Wedeking’s vision for Leadership Center continues to grow, evolve

Fifty years after the late Irv Wedeking helped create the vision for a youth ag training facility in Aurora, The Leadership Center celebrates its golden anniversary on a campus that has come to represent so much more to its founders, guests and host community. The 43-acre campus on the east edge of town shines as a pillar of success, giving Aurora and the center’s founders an earned reputation for progressive leadership.
During this golden anniversary year, The Leadership Center is celebrating its proud history while sharing the story of how Mr. Wedeking, Dr. Ted Ward and Norval McCaslin launched this remarkable endeavor. (See related story in this week’s edition) Those three men put up $27,000 of their own money, a huge and risky investment in 1968, to plant a seed that has continued to grow.
Times were tough in the early going, according to many volunteers and former board members, but the founders were committed to the concept of training the state’s future ag leaders at a central location. Aurora is fortunate to be that location, as the center has long since become a hub of constant activity, not just for the FFA leadership training each May, but for events, conferences and community celebrations year around.
An estimated 50,000 lives are touched each year by the center, which offers modern accommodations and meeting facilities in the midst of a scenic rural setting. The food and service are always outstanding, which keeps people coming back again and again and again.
Many, many people deserve credit for launching this ambitious project, and for 50 years of diligent work to keep it going. Cliff Jensen, the center’s first executive director, played a key role during his 32-year tenure and is credited for much of the early growth and success. Maile Ilac Boeder has carried the torch for the past 10 years, reflecting the same passion and dedication for the initial cause of those who came before her.
The Leadership Center is a first class facility serving a critical mission to train and inspire future ag leaders. Mr. Wedeking would be proud, as are all who have had a hand in its development.
Kurt Johnson

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