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Leaders: Karen and Justin Phillips were named Agassiz Ambassadors for the Red RIver Valley Emerging Leadership Program.

Justin and Karen Phillips of Rothsay, were recently named Agassiz Ambassadors for the Red River Valley Emerging Leadership Program at an awards banquet on March 30. They will carry the title of Agassiz Ambassadors No. 59 for the coming year where they will apply their leadership skills as they work with Extension staff to develop and deliver the next program starting this November.

The Phillipses were selected for the honor from among participants from 13 counties who were in the most recent program led by the University of Minnesota Extension. Their selection was based on nominations from other program participants and interviews with program alumni. The Phillipses were observed as good role models for this program.

Interviewers noted that the couple was highly recommended by their peers and that they have a strong passion for the emerging leadership program and for continuing to improve themselves. They were nominated for the role, “they are passionate about their community, kind and approachable.” Classmates said Justin and Karen enhanced their learning by sharing personal experiences and examples during sessions.

“They are both calm and can handle issues by looking through different lenses. They would be excellent ambassadors with a ton of knowledge and leadership skills to share with the next class,” one nominator said.

What do Justin and Karen have to say about being selected for this role? They shared their thoughts saying, “We are truly humbled to be chosen to be part of the rich history of this program.” They went on to add, “We are excited to represent Wilkin County and to put into practice what we learned in the emerging leadership program by staying active in our community.” Karen added that, as the Student Council advisor and Honors Program advisor at Rothsay Public School, she is “looking forward to bringing her new leadership skills to students to help prepare them for their future leadership roles.” Justin and Karen also added, “As Agassiz Ambassadors, we look forward to being a part of the next class and making it a meaningful and memorable experience as participants begin to unlock their leadership potential.” The program will benefit from Justin and Karen’s continued involvement with the program over the coming months.

This program is led by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for community vitality. It is financially supported by alumni of the program and by many community businesses throughout the region. Major partners include the NW Minnesota Foundation, the Red River Development Association and West Central Initiative.

This program carries on the tradition, started by the RRV Winter Shows in 1961, of recognizing rural leaders for contributions to their communities. The recognition, at a regional level once known as Valley King Agassiz, was replaced with the title of Agassiz Ambassadors in 1994.

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