Gabe Bladow recently graduated from the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo (LFMWF) program hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo (FMWF) Chamber
. The 10-month program is made up of 40 up-and-coming community leaders. It exposes participants to issues that face our region while challenging and engaging them to strengthen the community through service and leadership.
The program features a variety of events, including a ropes course challenge to kick off the program and a Community Change Initiative (CCI) group project. These CCIs allow the participants to apply the skills and insights that they gained through the program to a real-life initiative. They can bring this initiative to fruition to positively impact their communities.
Gabe Bladow graduated from the LFMWF program. Photos are courtesy of the FMWF Chamber.
Gabe’s group developed FM Pedal It Forward
for their CCI. It is a nonprofit bike share program to serve the youth (ages 4-14 years old) of the community. The program will collect used bikes, perform minor repairs as needed, and hand them out to children in the community every spring. In the fall, the bikes will be collected, and the cycle will repeat itself. The group partnered with other local non-profits to help provide helmets and safety training to all bike recipients.
“The concept was born out of our group’s recognition that all children deserve the experience of riding bikes, but that children’s bikes are expensive and are quickly outgrown,” says Gabe. “The program helps keep bikes out of the landfill and instead gets them into the hands of children that otherwise couldn’t afford them.”
Due to the timing of the leadership program, the group was unable to hand out bikes this year. However, they are actively collecting bikes and fundraising for 2022. Interested in participating in this program? Check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FMpedalitforward/
Gabe Bladow is a civil engineer in HEI’s Fargo office who focuses on providing a variety of water management services to clients and local communities, such as drainage solutions in agriculture and urban flood protection. Gabe grew up in a farming family in the Red River Valley, witnessing the devastation of the 1997 flood. These experiences gave him an appreciation for the importance of water management in our communities.
The 2020-2021 leadership class on graduation day.
Q & A with Gabe
Can you summarize what it was like participating in the LFMWF program?
From the beginning, the program challenges your view on what leadership looks like. It made me realize that leadership in other businesses, organizations, or within the general community may not look exactly like it does in our company. The program is focused on engagement, especially engagement with emerging leaders from a multitude of different backgrounds and vocations. I learned as much about leadership through interaction with classmates as I did from the program itself.
What did you learn from this experience?
I’ve learned that the workplace is not the only place where leadership skills are valuable. Our community is fortunate to have leaders that use their skills and resource to better our community as a whole. The leadership program is critical to establishing the skill and desire within the next generation of community leaders.
What are some of the things you enjoyed about this program?
I enjoyed the chance to connect with future leaders in other business sectors in the community. I was able to see the differences and similarities in issues that affect these other sectors, and it provided an opportunity to view similar business issues from other perspectives.
How has this experience impacted your view of leadership?
First, it was a good reminder that we can always do more. If you feel like you are a good leader within your organization, don’t be afraid to take another step and apply those skills elsewhere. Second, leadership doesn’t necessarily mean being at the top of the chain of command. A successful organization requires good leadership at all levels.
What was something you didn’t know about the FMWF community before completing this program?
I didn’t realize how robust and wide-ranging the local non-profit community is. If you know somebody that needs help, there’s a good chance that there is an organization within our community that is ready and able to provide that help. On the other side of the spectrum, if you have time to give, you only need to scratch below the surface to see that the opportunities to give back are endless.
Would you recommend the LFMWF program to others? Why?
I would strongly recommend the program to individuals that want to be more involved in the local community but are unsure of how to make the first step. The program does a great job of introducing the class to opportunities to be involved with local non-profits, governments, and other business organizations.
What advice do you have for future LFMWF program participants?
Embrace the program and your classmates from day one, and the experience will be very rewarding.