Each year, as part of their participation in the Leadership Venango program, the class is divided into groups and each must develop a project.

There aren’t very many rules or guidelines, we just ask that they choose a project based on a conversation we have at the retreat, document their process, and then present about it at the end of the class.

In the past, teams have developed surveys, maps, guides, and more. In our current year, we have seen the most dynamic projects yet – and we are excited to share them with you!

For more information on Leadership Venango, please visit or call (814) 676-8521. We are now accepting applications for the Class of 2023!

Little Free Libraries
This group is creating two new Little Free Libraries in Venango County. Little Free Library is a non-profit that promotes neighborhood book exchanges, usually in the form of a public bookcase. More than 90,000 public book exchanges are registered with the organization and branded as Little Free Libraries.

One will be located in Justus Park and will use an old newspaper distribution box to house the Little Free Library donations. The other will be located at UPMC Northwest, where the team hopes it will be used by patients, employees, and community members.

This team is made up of Kelly Smerker (UPMC Northwest), Ben Hart (UPMC Prehospital Care), Heidi Krug-Whistle (Gibbons Business Solutions), Matt Craig (Webco), Jarred Heuer (Clarion County EDC), and Liz Amendola.

Venango Speaks Podcast
One group’s project, dubbed The Venango Speaks Podcast, aims to create a podcast at the Oil City Library that explores topics like community revitalization, business, nonprofits, leadership and recreation on the local level.

Group members Natalie Cubbon (Oil Region Library Association), Ashlee Goodman (Raymond James Financial), Nick Gammello (Rossbacher Insurance), Devin Zagar (7 Foot Productions & Marketing), and Brandon Boocks (Venango Museum) hope to introduce the podcast this Spring.

Guests will include ORLA Director Dan Flaherty and Chamber President Susan Williams. It will be available on all major podcast platforms.

Youth Volunteer Workshops
This project came about as the group discussed the need for young people to get more involved and take ownership of their communities. This group recognized a need and immediately got to work, already holding two of their workshops with great success!

In February, they held a training at Precious Paws, where the students learned about pet care and in March, they were at Peddlers & Paddlers (pictured) to teach the students about cleaning and cooking.

Their team is comprised of Amariliz Sanchez (Clarion University Venango), Ashleigh Bennett (Porch Music Store), Chris Loll (Klapec Trucking Company), Megan Weber (Komatsu), and Akshay Kumbhare.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s April 2022 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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