Louisiana leaders learn from Fort Polk
Warren Byrd, a superintendent of streets and drainage for the city of Alexandria, tries on a Soldier's gear during a tour of Fort Polk as part of the Louisiana State University at Alexandria's Leadership Central Louisiana program March 25.

FORT POLK, La. -- Leadership Central Louisiana, an eight-month noncredit course run by Louisiana State University in Alexandria, visited Fort Polk March 25.

Programs such as these are usually a function of a town's chamber of commerce, but LSUA took over eight years ago from the city as a natural extension of its continuing education.

The program familiarizes local leaders with the community they work in by exposing them to different aspects of the community. Every month the school covers two topics including local arts, politics, economy, community service, health care, tourist industry and, in the case of Fort Polk, the military.

"We wanted to give them an understanding of the money Fort Polk brings into the area," said SherAfA Thaxton, the LSUA continuing education liaison in charge of the leadership school.

The group visited Fort Polk's NCO Academy where members had the opportunity to step into a Soldier's uniform - literally. They tried on the helmet, the vest, the backpack and the arm and knee guards.

"They asked for volunteers, and, not being in the military, I thought this might be my only opportunity," said Warren Byrd, the superintendent of streets and drainage in Alexandria and participant in the leadership school. "To train and to work in that type of gear, you get to respect them (Soldiers) more."

"I have a healthy new respect for what a Soldier goes through," Thaxton said after trying on the gear. "I won't watch the nightly news the same way again when I see Soldiers onscreen."

The school also visited the Polk Army Airfield and post headquarters where they met Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough, commander, JRTC and Fort Polk.

"They were impressed with Yarbrough," said Thaxton of her program's participants. "He is pushing for the area to get more things for the Families to make life more comfortable here."

Overall the experience broadened the minds of its participants.

"When I entered the fort, it blew my mind by its size and complexity, that it's basically a self contained city," said Byrd. "I am appreciative to get the experience."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16