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 Applied Leadership and a Skatepark

A Skateboard Competition Raises Awareness and Funds

Back row: Bryan Peters, Tom Kreuser, AJ (Andrew) Strom. Front row: Keith Erickson, Sean Bevans, Sara Lindqust, Joie Ascheson, Karissa Hatten, and Paula Pedersen.
Attending UMD is not just all about classroom learning.

Seven UMD students, members of the Spring 2008 Applied Leadership course, teamed up with the Duluth Parks and Recreation Department & Commission to help with a city project. Andrew Strom, Bryan Peters, Karissa Hatten, Keith Erickson, Sara Lindqust, Sean Bevans, and Tom Kreuser helped put on Sk8, a skateboard competition fundraising event, for a new Duluth Skate Park in early May at an indoor skate area. Skateboarders demonstrated spins, flips and tricks, and the talent and skill of skaters in three different age categories was showcased. The event raised money for the new Duluth Skate Park, an all-concrete skate park, to be built in Wheeler Park in West Duluth. The facility will be completed just in time for students returning to UMD in fall 2008. It is planned to combine a skate plaza, a street style skate area and some fun features.


The Applied Leadership course, taught by Paula Pedersen, assistant professor of psychology, was developed to support the new Kirby Leadership Certificate program which is lead by Joie Ascheson, assistant director, Student Activities and Leadership Development.

Linda Krug, Dean of CLA said, “Everything we do in CLA is designed to enhance our student’s learning experiences, primarily because our students will become the mover and shakers of tomorrow. They use broad training to assume positions in all reaches of society…..from journalism to politics, from courtroom to the boardroom. As one who believes in the importance of education, I am excited for these students and for the possibilities that exist for them.”

Pedersen said, “The small class size was key and seven students signed up for an experience of success in leadership. The intent of the course was to lead a community project, set goals and provide follow through.”

“The students not only learned theory of leadership, they attended a city council meeting and parks and recreation skate park meetings," said Pedersen. “They worked with Duluth businesses, social services, retirees, youth, and other citizens. They wrote press releases, were interviewed for radio and newspapers, and did the advertising to pull this event off. They also planned, budgeted for and coordinated this entire event. This was all quite a learning experience and accomplishment.”

Jim Topie, UMD alumnus (2005) and Parks Commission president, mentored the class in how to steer a project through the governmental process and assist the community in taking an idea and bringing it to completion.


Now that the competition is over the students had an opportunity to reflect upon what they accomplished and the leadership and life skills earned.

They all had positive comments. Tom Kreuser said, “The event raised both public awareness and $651.01 to be donated toward construction. The community had fun.” The students also learned that success goes beyond the immediate outcome. As a result of the competition and community awareness, two other fund raising opportunities emerged. Sara Lindqust said she got to feel and see the presence of the community away from the UMD campus. “During the competition and as a judge, I was able to interact with people I would otherwise have never have met.” Sean Bevans agreed. “The reaction the kids had to receiving their medals was the most rewarding.” Bryan Peters learned that “leading is like marketing in business. You have to sell your ideas.” Karissa Hatten found out “there is more to just a big picture, it is the little thoughts that count.”

The class went from barely knowing each other to becoming a group of friends; and all of them agreed, the project was informative and rewarding.

Kirby Leadership Institute

by Jim Topie and Cheryl Reitan

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830



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