Anyone looking for a way to make a positive impact in the community has a chance to do so through a local program that helps individuals throughout the county develop their leadership skills.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2013-2014 Leadership Aiken County class. Leadership Aiken County, established in 1982, gathers a group of residents who are interested in leadership opportunities, and they come up with a community project that they'll complete together as a class.

The 2012-2013 class recently wrapped up with a ribbon-cutting ceremony after it participated in the Safe Routes to School project in Crosland Park.

Class Coordinator Ben Harm said this is an important program because it helps identify and develop future leaders in this community.

For nine months, once each month, the group meets from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss various issues facing Aiken County and opportunities to address those problems. The group looks at the history of the area, the horse industry, human services, cultural awareness and diversity, economic development and industry, government, health care, education, law enforcement and ways to sustain quality of life.

“This is a group that really works on building relationships and exposing people to a variety of different things in Aiken County,” Harm said. “It's a really fun adventure. We encourage anyone interested to apply and look forward to see them.”

Tuition for Leadership Aiken County is $600, and that covers meals at monthly meetings, meals and lodging at a retreat held at Camp Gravatt, training materials, some travel expenses, awards and administrative costs associated with the program.

Scholarships for up to 50 percent of the tuition are available.

Applications will be accepted until July 30 and can be found at or email Harm at

Amy Banton is the county beat reporter and has been with the Aiken Standard since May 2010.