This year has posed some challenges for us at The Leadership Center. Some were welcomed and others pressed us to get creative with our thinking and our actions. Saying this, we fully realize we aren’t the only ones who have seen challenges this year. Mother Nature leading the charge in this area with blizzards, wind and floods. Close behind has been the economy, the markets, budgets, etc. I suppose that list could go on and on.

So what is challenge? As defined by Meriam Webster:

chal·​lenge | \ ˈcha-lənj  \
1a stimulating task or problem//looking for new challenges
2aa calling to account or into question PROTEST//challenge to unauthorized use of public funds
ban exception taken to a juror before the juror is sworn//challenge of a prospective juror based on a specific cause or reason
ca questioning of the right or validity of a vote or voter
da sentry’s command to halt and prove identity//The intruder fled at the sentry’s challenge.
3aan invitation to compete in a sport//He accepted my challenge to a game of chess.
ba summons (see SUMMONS entry 1 sense 2) that is often threatening, provocative, stimulating, or incitingspecifically a summons to a duel to answer an affront
4the act or process of provoking or testing physiological activity by exposure to a specific substanceespecially a test of immunity by exposure to an antigen
Where do your challeges fall within this definition?
I think for us, ours falls in line with a few of them.
  • Some of the challenges we have faced this year were due to the weather. The flood took out a phase of power on our property. We are grateful to NPPD for working long hours over a couple of nights to make ammends. The City of Aurora, Hamilton County, and our team worked hard to remove fallen trees and debris, aslo caused by the flood….and the snow, and the rain, and the wind… So the weather kept us busy.
  • Above the damage and setbacks on our property, so many of our guests were horrifically impacted by the floods and blizzards. Many unable to attend meetings or events because they couldn’t get here. It was heartbreaking.
  • When all the rain and hail fell from the skies, we had “water features” turn up in our building. With as much roof as we have, water is bound to find an entry. Thank goodness for larges tarps, big fans, powerful shop vacs, our awesome fire & sprinkler companies and Paschke Roofing and our incredible teammates. Also thank you to our understanding clients. The rain fell. Water features appeared. Everyone came together and cleaned up so that our guests could do their things, uninterupted. It was amazing.
  • Highway 34 Road Construction. If you spent any time in Hamilton County, especially on Highway 34, there was some much needed updates that took place. While needed, the frustrating part was the added minutes to commute times as well as trying to get in and out of our property was tedious at best. We were challenged to keep perspective and give thanks this year because we all knew the construction was needed.
  • Our pool was built back in the 70’s. The pump that helps circulate the water in order to keep it clean and warm got really tired this year. It put in for a permanent vacation at a fairly inconveinent time. To be honest, our pool is used nearly every day of the year and unlike so many, our pool never gets a break except the two scheduled maintenance weeks a year. A breakdown or shutdown is never convenient. Nonetheless, it is what it is. We are so grateful to Joseph Electric & Hatten’s Electric for helping us rectify this situation in a timely fashion. Your work has allowed us to keep our pool open while we put in for grants and funding to have a new pump and parts built that must be built and get them in house.
  • Our treeline on the north of our property. It was planted when we first purchased the property back in the 60’s. When we planted those trees, it was to mark our property line and beautify our property. We didn’t actually have any neighbors to the north. Aurora has grown over the past 50 years and we now have lots of wonderful neighbors. Our trees have grown and for some, they have seen their life cycle come to an end. Given that we are a small non-profit and our team stays very busy, we don’t always get to focus on things that aren’t directly related to a guest in the building. Our treeline is one of those areas that don’t always get the attention it needs. Two years ago, our intern and resident lumberjack, Andrew Stolpe worked with a couple of staff members to remove a portion of the treeline and have it replanted. He worked with the neighbors and Luthy Trees accomplish this task. This year, we worked as a team to clean the rest of the treeline, taking down a number of trees and undergrowth. The three days we set for treeline cleanup were awesome. Our team had so much fun. What made things even better, was meeting the neighbors who came out to say hi. A few even brought out treats. Aurora Cooperative’s Heath and Chantel came out and helped as well. We accomplished much.
  • The Summer Food Service Program. We are in our second year offering this program to our community. We saw our numbers grow from an average of 10 meals served daily to 25 served daily. With growing numbers comes increased needs such as resources, people to serve and people to engage attendees with enrichment activities. We are so grateful to the Prairie Plains Resource Institute for allowing us to serve on their property. We had several TLC teammates that stepped up, voluntarily, to learn how to serve and manage this program and to facilitate enrichment activities. The other neat things was that we added a ‘service project’ to our leadership programs. Those in these programs planned, organized, practiced and then lead enrichment programs for attendees. It was so neat to see so many student leaders engage with our “Lunch Bunch”. The impact was huge.
  • The largest challenge we continue to face is our non-profit status growing our donor base. The Leadership Center is owned by the Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Foundation and operated as a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization. We recieve no funding from the government or organization. Many think because we were founded to for the Nebraska FFA to host their camps at, that we are owned by the FFA and that we receive funding from the Nebraska FFA Foundation. We are not owned by the FFA, but by the Nebraska Vocational Agricultural Foundation. We do not recieve funding from the FFA Foundation or any other “parent” group, tax funding or government funding. The only “government funding” we recieve is for the Summer Food Service Program for the number of meals we serve. These funds do not cover the meals prepared and not served, staffing, equipment, etc. Sharing our story and engaging with those around us that could potentially be donors, volunteers, or sponsors is an ongoing opportunity. We are working hard on this and always looking for effective ways to share.

All of us are facing challenges. What’s important is how you approach them. I would be lying to you if I told you the above listed items didn’t freak me out from time to time or overwhelm me. They do. As the boss, I spend a lot of time contemplating liabilities, raising funds and awareness, making partnerships and finding solutions. It’s my job and I love it. In the overwhelming moments, I take a step back and see how the opportunity presented can be handled and learned from. We are so blessed by so many partnerships and vendors that will come to work alongside us.

Thank you to all of you for coming alongside us this year to help work through the challenges. We are blessed.


Maile Ilac Boeder, IOM

Executive Director


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We have been super busy at The Leadership Center prepping for one of our favorite events of the year, the @ne.ffa C.O.L.T. Conference which kicks off with the officers arriving tomorrow. However, like so many of you, we have also been dealing with the results of the latest Nebraska weather. We want to take a moment to say thank you to Nebraska Fire Sprinkler Corp. and Paschke Brothers for coming out to deal with the water. Thank you to Steve Pawley for coming to the rescue on Sunday night. Thank you to our TLC teammates who worked long hours on Sunday and all of this week making repairs, replacements and making sure we are ready for all our guests the next two weeks. We are so grateful for all of you. Thank you. Sincerely, Maile Ilac Boeder IOM, Executive Director • #gratitude

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