April 21, 2003: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Education: Monroe Times: Paraguay RPCV Dan Hill prepares for new statewide position in Wisconsin

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: The Peace Corps in Paraguay: April 21, 2003: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Education: Monroe Times: Paraguay RPCV Dan Hill prepares for new statewide position in Wisconsin

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Paraguay RPCV Dan Hill prepares for new statewide position in Wisconsin

Paraguay RPCV Dan Hill prepares for new statewide position in Wisconsin

A valuable resource: Lafayette County educator prepares for new position
Published Monday, April 21, 2003 12:05:21 PM Central Time

By Mary Yeater Rathbun

Lafayette County Bureau Chief

DARLINGTON -- Dan Hill said both he and his job changed during the 14 years he was the community resource development educator in the Lafayette County University of Wisconsin Extension office, a position he left last week to take a Madison appointment with statewide responsibilities.


Not only did the Hammond, Ind., native get married and have what are obviously the lights of his life -- Sophia who is now 6, Gabriel now 4 and Patrick who is 2 -- while he was in Lafayette County but, he said, he also learned to deal with people better, hear the ideas behind what they say and be more open-minded to other points of view. Hill said his Peace Corps years before he came to Lafayette County had taught him some of those things and age had certainly helped but Lafayette County's people were also part of it.

Hill spent four years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay and then three more years in Paraguay doing training for the Peace Corps and farming a little on his own before coming to Wisconsin in 1986. He immediately set to work earning two master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one in agricultural education with an international development focus and one in adult education.

While doing that, he got a job on campus as a UWEX project assistant. Hill said that was how he learned what UWEX did in the counties.

Hill completed his two degrees in December 1988 and began work as Lafayette County's resource development educator in January 1989. He said initially his focus was recycling. The program was new then and although the state did not mandate counties do it, they had to if they wanted to use state landfills. Hill said for three or four years he did lots of education, mainly with the townships, and got the program going.

He said he also worked with 4-H agent Sue Curtis on a careers and entrepreneurship program in all high schools in the county.

Then, the Lower East Branch of the Pecatonica River was designated a priority watershed. Hill said he developed information and education programs emphasizing ground water. He said this is when the well abandonment demonstrations and water testing programs began. He said he hopes they will continue.

Although economic development education was always part of his job, in the early 1990s, it began to be a bigger and bigger part, according to Hill. He said he's put a lot of effort into a partnership with Alliant Energy and the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. They did economic development workshops, Hill said.

Seven of the eight incorporated municipalities in the county participated in those economic preparedness seminars, he said. As a result, according to Hill, two communities formed their own economic development commissions.

While all this was developing, Hill was pursuing some of his long-term personal interests. After he graduated from the University of Indiana in Bloomington in 1976, Hill said he went home to Hammond, lived with his parents and worked in a steel mill for a year so he could save enough money to spend 14 months in Europe without having to get a job. Six months of that time he spent bicycling around the continent.

He continued to bike long distances after moving to Lafayette County. He met his wife, Vicky, on a long-distance bike ride. It was her first long-distance ride, Hill said. Her brother, a UWEX community resource development educator in another county, had talked her into it. Dan and Vicky got married in 1995. Their first child was born in 1996 when Dan was 42.

What he calls his best professional work began in 1999, he said. "The leadership program is clearly the best work I have done," he said.

He said the program helps people and organizations help themselves by teaching them how to make good decisions based on research. "Leadership is always a need. We don't know what the issues will be two years from now. Who knew homeland security would be a big issue in Lafayette County? Government budget problems are not going to go away soon and people don't want to pay more taxes, so private, non-profit organizations will need to address needs government is no longer going to meet. This will take leaders," Hill said.

The Community Leadership Alliance is a group of people of all ages from Lafayette, Iowa and Grant counties that meet one full day a month from January through June to develop leadership skills. Hill said the Platteville Chamber of Commerce actually got the program going by identifying leadership training as something people in its group needed, he said.

Hill said the Platteville people initially invited all five counties served by the SWRPC to join in the effort, but only the three counties decided to do it. The counties then called on their UWEX offices and the UW-Platteville continuing education department to develop and present the training.

Hill said in addition to building individual leadership skills, an important goal of the program is to build alliances and create networks so the entire three-county area can share resources and knowledge in working together on common issues. The UWEX educators involved began to study the impact of their work on the leadership behaviors and attitudes of people who participated in the program. Their approach to program impact evaluation was featured this month in a Wisconsin Community Leadership Summit.

Meanwhile in 2002, Hill developed a curriculum to help county board members better understand the open meetings law, parliamentary procedure and ethics for elected officials. Those successful program relate directly to the next stage in Hill's professional life.

Hill is joining the UWEX local government center in Madison, providing education for local elected officials. The local government center develops and delivers educational programs for county, township and municipal elected officials. Hill will work with community resource development educators throughout the state.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Monroe Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Paraguay; Education



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