Feature photo above, Willie Tasker ’15 and his Outdoor Club from McIntire Elementary School made and put out bird feeders and bird houses, one of the activities Tasker used to connect kids with nature in his Leadership as Mentoring project for Westminster’s Organizational Leadership Program.
What does leadership look like?
At Westminster, leadership is about helping students’ discover their “sweet spot,” where passion and natural talents cross.
“The best leaders are those who follow their passion and learn how to apply their skills to it,” says Dr. Bob Hansen, Organizational Leadership professor. “For some, it is human rights; for others, it could be business innovations; and for others, it could be teaching kids.”
According to Hansen, Westminster focuses on strengths-based leadership.
“We identify what natural skills students have been blessed with and help them take these to the next level … to be excellent,” Hansen says. “Our classes help students develop critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. Good leaders know themselves, so we challenge them to dig deep to identify their foundational values, their life mission/vision, and to be ready when the opportunity comes to step up.”
Students learn leadership theories at Westminster, but the key to success is for students to develop their own leadership theory and build a set of skills that will allow them to put it into action.
Leadership in Action through Mentoring: Willie Tasker ’15
Through Westminster’s Organizational Leadership Program, taught by Hansen, students choose between two capstone course options: a formal internship or a Leadership as Mentoring experience. Both are designed for students to demonstrate what they’ve learned in the program.
During spring semester 2015, Willie Tasker ’15 completed a Leadership through Mentoring experience, a capstone course in the Organizational Leadership Program, with the Outdoor Club (during BAC-PAC after-school care) at McIntire School in Fulton, MO.
Tasker says the experience was “amazing.”
“It was a great time to give back to the Fulton community by taking the after-school kids from McIntire out of their usual activities and get them outside in nature,” Tasker says. “We had a great time from learning fire safety to building bird houses for the school and Stinson Creek Trail.”
From sharing knowledge about native Missouri birds, fish, and other wildlife to teaching how to choose and skip the perfect rock at Stinson Creek, Tasker worked to inspire and develop a love of nature in the young students, following his passion and making a difference in the students’ lives.
“Willie is absolutely passionate about the outdoors and environmental education and he has so many experiences and skills in these areas,” says Hansen. “His mentoring experience allowed him the opportunity to excite young kids about nature and how to live environmentally sustainable and ethical lives.
For some of these kids, Willie was ‘that really neat Westminster College guy’ who got them started in appreciating and loving Mother Nature.”
Tasker graduated with a degree in Business Administration in May 2015. In July, he will have an opportunity to feed his passion for the outdoors and start his career at one of his favorite places in the world, Montana. He has been hired as the Southwestern Montana regional manager for Avis rental car stores in the surrounding areas.