6 Qualities of Great Community Leaders

Community leaders who have the potential to make change require a certain set of skills in order to reach their communities’ objectives. A community leader’s job is a difficult one and without strong leadership qualities, it can make the job that much harder. The list below highlights a few of the more prominent skills needed to enact change, bring people together, and ultimately make changes for the greater good.

Self Awareness

Possessing the ability to know yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses, provides you with an understanding of how to lead yourself and others. Knowing yourself also helps you identify when you need to ask for help and where you can improve. Being self aware allows you to take on projects you know you can handle and provide consistent and powerful leadership.

Honesty & Integrity

Honesty and integrity play an enormous part in effective leadership. If you are not honest or operate with integrity, people are going to notice and no longer follow your lead. As a leader, you want to be an exemplary member of the team. Trust from the community you’re serving and the members of the community standing with you will gain traction for your initiatives.

Teamwork

Teamwork should go without saying, but it can be easy to get bogged down with delegating work and leading from above. Having the ability to step back and see when you are getting too bogged down in leadership “busy work” is vital. You will need to work alongside and in the trenches with those who are following you. Teamwork pride grows comradery and general morale.

Forward Thinker

Forward thinking is another key characteristic of an effective community for a few reasons. Thinking ahead is helpful to mitigate future issues and setbacks. Additionally, as a community leader you are not looking to make temporary changes. You need to think years ahead to continue to help the community for the long haul.

Interpersonal Skills

To be an effective leader you need to be an effective communicator. You will have to give direction and guidance to the people following your lead. Conversely, you will be called to communicate the needs and wants of a community to people that have the power to set funding or laws in motion. Interpersonal skills also show your strength in collaborating with other to achieve common goals.

Ability to Organize a Group

As a community leader, you are not going to be able to do everything yourself. You are going to have to organize a talented group of likeminded people together. Rallying the troops for change can be a daunting task, but possessing the skill to excite potential help will ultimately make you and the cause you are fighting for successful.

6 Ways to be a Good Role Model for Students

Teachers play a huge role in children’s lives as they’re growing up. Students spend numerous hours every week in the classroom from ages 5 to 18. That’s a lot of time spent around teachers! For many students, their teachers may be the only role models they’re ever exposed to and they may spend more time with them than they do their actual parents. This issue is why it’s vital for teachers to prepare to be stellar role models to their students. Here are some ways they can accomplish that.

Passion

To be a good role model, you need to have passion for what you’re doing. As a teacher, this means you need to feel passionate about teaching and the students you teach. It’s so easy to burn out and feel hopeless when you’re having a tough year, but you can make it through if you have genuine passion for what you do. Your students will see this passion in you and it’ll hopefully spark some of their own for a certain subject or hobby!

Perseverance

Like I mentioned above, it’s easy for an educator to feel burned out. That’s why perseverance is such a vital quality to possess. You’ll need to persevere in order to be an astounding teacher, especially during those days when it’s tough to continue. When you have a difficult student, it’s important to be able to persevere and continue attempting to connect with them.

Values

It’s important to know what your personal set of values are when teaching. Students are going through the time in their lives when they’re trying to figure out who they are and what their own personal values should be. If you can stand firm in your values, it’ll encourage students to stick to theirs. Values differ from person to person, but a couple that are important for educators to own are honesty and humility. It’s important to admit mistakes so students realize you aren’t perfect, while also being upfront with them.

Commitment

To become an effective role model as a teacher, you need to be committed to the students and make sure they know that. They’ll trust you and believe your interest is sincere. A way to get this point across to them is to show a commitment to the local community as well. By volunteering and being involved outside of your workplace, you’ll show students that you have a genuine interest in them and where they’re from and you aren’t merely “doing your job.”

Respect

Have respect for your students. While it’s true that respect must be given to be received, many students may not understand what it’s like to have an adult who really cares about them and wants to listen. No matter how unruly a student may be, treat them with as much respect as possible. Try to never lose your temper and call them names or curse at them; these actions will break down any professionalism and cause students to not respect you.

Communication

The most important part of being a good role model is having the ability to communicate effectively with the students. By knowing how to talk to them about their interests, their hopes and dreams, and themselves, you’ll be able to connect with them on a deeper level, which will inspire them to view you as a role model.

Don’t Mess With Texas

 

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As Texans, we know that there is nothing better than the Lone Star state. We know it, and thanks to a variety of slogans, the rest of the country does too. People know that everything is bigger in Texas, and every knows not to mess with Texas, but do they know why? The saying, “Don’t mess with Texas,” asserts our strength, but this famous slogan has its own history. This slogan was created for a great cause, one as valiant as the people of our state.

A little over 30 years ago, Texas was allocating a huge amount of money to cleaning the highways across our state. By 1985, the state was spending nearly $20 million annually, to pick up the trash Texans were throwing out of their windows as they drove around the state. As a response, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) hired advertising agency GSD&M to create a slogan as part of an anti-littering campaign. The project was led by Mike Blair and GSD&M founder Tim McClure, and was targeting the 18-35-year-old male demographic. The team had some difficulty convincing TXDOT to adopt the slogan, who wanted to try a tamer slogan like, “Keep Texas Beautiful.” McClure and Blair knew an ordinary statement wouldn’t inspire anyone to resist throwing their garbage anywhere they pleased, so the campaign stuck with “Don’t Mess With Texas.”

The campaign launched in 1985, with bumper stickers as the vehicle for spreading the message. A year later, the campaign aired its first TV advertisement, and the slogan made a television debut. The ad ran during the 50th annual Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1st, of 1986 and featured Stevie Ray Vaughn singing the class “Eyes of Texas” with the slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas” added at the end. The TXDOT has worked with many other famous faces in “Don’t Mess With Texas” public service announcements, including Lance Armstrong, Willie Nelson, and even Chuck Norris.

The TXDOT, McClure and Blair didn’t know this slogan would become as ubiquitous as it is today, but it has become “an identity statement, a declaration of Texas swagger.” The slogan is federally trademarked, and the TXDOT has tried to enforce trademark rights with very little success. It is printed on all types of souvenir goods, spreading the message to others across the country, and maybe even internationally. The campaign was successful in reducing litter across Texan highways, but today, the slogan lives on in the spirit of Texan pride.

The Top 10 National and State Parks of Texas

Texas is known for it’s rich history in the development of our nation, but it’s physically characterized by breath-taking scenery. When you think about the landscape of the Lone Star state, images of flat desert come to mind, but Texas is full of high peaks and low caves. Below is a list of top 10 national and state parks to go out and explore:

Big Bend

1. Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park

Big Bend National Park and it’s neighbor, Big Bend Ranch State Park, both sit on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. The Rio Grande runs through both parks which encompass and protect a large portion of the Chihuahua desert. The two parks offer more than 200 miles of hiking trails, some of which can be completed in a day. Notable sites within the park include Chisos Basin and Rio Grande Village.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA2. Caddo Lake State Park

A Native American legend claims Caddo Lake was formed when one of the Caddo Chiefs failed to obey the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit retaliated with an earthquake which created and filled the lake. Today, the cypress swamp of Caddo Lake State Park is an excellent location to camp, hike and kayak.

 

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3. Longhorn Caverns State Park

Once a refuge for ice age animals, Native American peoples, pioneer settlers, Confederate soldiers and outlaws, Longhorn Caverns State Park is now attraction for all. The limestone caverns were formed by an underground river that dwindled away thousands of years ago. The naturally cool temperature of the caverns (68F) makes this destination ideal to visit during the summer months. While there is no overnight camping allowed, there are daily tours available.

 

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4. Padre Island National Seashore

Located off the southern coast of Texas, the Padre Island National Seashore is a constantly changing coastline of dunes and tidal flats. One of the island’s greatest attractions, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles nest their eggs along the coast. If you have a chance to visit, don’t miss the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

 

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5. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

The Enchanted Rock, a massive pink granite dome, is the focal piece of this Texan park, located in the plains west of Austin. Visible for miles in the area, this rock is has been exposed for (as geologists estimate) more than one billion years. A short .6 mile hike will lead you up to spectacular views of the park.

 

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6. Monahans Sandhills State Park

Located near the town of Monahans, Monahans Sandhills State Park has sand dunes that can up to 70 feet tall. This is an ideal location for recreational activities like sand-boarding, sand surfing and sand football.

 

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7. Kickapoo Cavern State Park

With 18 miles of trails available to birders, hikers and mountain bikers, this park has more to offer below the plains of the southwest. This state park has 20 caves, the largest of which is open to the public via guided flashlight tours. The park has something to offer to animal lovers in particular, visitors can watch Mexican free tailed bats emerge from the caves from March through October.

 

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8. Hueco Tanks Park and Historic Site

Once inhabited by the people of Jornada Mogollon, the Hueco Tanks Park and Historic Site are know for the pictographs left behind by previous cultures. There are more than 200 face designs left behind by the Mogollon, as well as pictographs from the Apaches and Kiowas.

 

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9) Pedernales Falls State Park

Whether you want to climb over the limestone rocks along the Pedernales River or wade in the low flow of the river, this park is full of gorgeous scenery. Be careful of the highly variable levels of the river, when it is low it is ideal for swimming.

 

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10) Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Home to the second largest canyon in the U.S., this park has 30 miles of biking, hiking and equestrian trails.  You may also see Longhorn steers grazing along these trails, part of official Texas state longhorn herd is known to wander around the edge of the park.

Houston

Check out this informational video about Houston, Texas!

The Effort to Enroll the Uninsured

Robert Peters Manor Texas

The Obama administration has announced recently that with the next round of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act happening quite soon, they will be focusing on certain areas of the country.
Two major areas to focus on are: Dallas and Houston. Interestingly, the secretary o health and human services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said on Tuesday that this year will be quite different than last year in terms of open enrollment.

Many uninsured people have already signed up for healthcare, which leaves a smaller pool of eligible people to sign up. Ms. Burwell stated that their goal this enrollment period is to focus on 10.5 million Americans who are uninsured.

To be clear, the enrollment period starts on November 1st and goes through January 31st, 2016. Ms. Burwell also said that they expect about 9.1 million people to have coverage through the marketplace, which is where state and federal exchange programs and information for where people can buy insurance.

The issues that may arise when signing up for insurance or help from marketplaces is that some people fail to pay their premiums, which brings the numbers down on a national level in terms of who is insured. Other instances include issues of inadequately answering questions o federal employees about citizenship or immigration status.

Another interesting fact that Ms. Burwell brings up is that many of the eligible uninsured in the specific pool of people being target for this enrollment period are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Last year, the Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans without health insurance has dropped 8.8 million since last year – because of the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, 33 million people are still uninsured and the goal is to get every eligible American insured within the next few years.

Houston and Dallas will be big focal points for the health and human services department. We should be encouraging families and individuals to sign up and receive health insurance!

Startup Scene Brewing in Austin

It’s interesting to see cities grow and evolve! It’s no secret that Austin, Texas, is a large tech hub attracting young professionals around the world. Many intelligent, creative people have made the move to Austin to live a better quality life and work at the company of their dreams.

5 Reasons to Move to Texas

Robert Peters Texas

Texas has a pretty well-known reputation for being the Cowboy state; full of extremely right-wing people and great barbecue.

A few things people don’t know about the new Texas is that it’s full of students, young adults, and tech-inspired people followin their dreams. Texas has evolved into a very diverse state of people from all different walks of life.

Of course, Texas as a whole has maintained it’s reputation as being a big, lively, and different place to live. Not only being a beautiful part of the country, Texas has so much history and to see it evolving into a very positive place for many early entrepreneurs and creatives, this makes it a hotspot for plenty of people to move. Here are a few reasons why a lot of people are making the move to Texas.

1. It’s cheaper. The cost of living is so low that a great quality life is inexpensive. Housing, food, and other items are at a lower cost than many other places in the country.

2. Lower taxes. There is no personal income tax in Texas and no corporate income tax. There is a sales tax, but it is still lower than most other states.

3. Low unemployment. This means there are jobs! Surprising because there is a major lack of work in other states near by. This is a great thing for people looking to stabilize and grow their career.

4. Good schools. The school system in Texas is one of the best int he country. They take care of all students regardless of economical status or minority.

5. Very little to no snow. This is great news for East coasters or Northerners! The weather is temperate year-round.

Texas is attracting young people everywhere to live a happy, cheaper, fuller live with great culture – especially in cities like Austin!

Greenhouse Project Fund

Texas Legislators: Missing the Big Picture

Robert Peters Manor Texas TX Educator

Recently, a new study claims that across the state of Texas there have been more Latino drop outs from high school, but an increase in college enrollment. The issue with this is that some legislators may not be looking at the right numbers to glean this statistic. So the real story may be still hidden, especially when the Latinos’ population growth has expanded. This issue has been projected to be a huge problem in the future if Texas doesn’t do something about this now.

Dallas is having some issues with their kids graduating from college. Within the past two years, graduation rates have been dropping and it’s alarming to advocates who have fought for this for the past 5 to 10 years.

The interesting fact about this projected statistic is that the Latino college enrollment rate has shot up recently. These colleges are primarily two-year institutions and many never finish to get their AA or Bachelor degrees.

This data comes from Pew Research Center and the last in-depth study was made in 2013-2014. A lot has happened in the matter of just over a year, and it appears that state officials will not be acting on the statistics.

The major issue for the legislators not to act is because of the school Financing Lawsuit and its unresolved state. They say that until the lawsuit is settled, there cannot be any actions made to improve things in Texas. In 2011, very deep budget cuts were made across the country. Texas is still struggling to improve their conditions, as are many other states in the country. Unfortunately, Texas has ranked to be 49th on the list in terms of having the least funding per student. This is appalling.

Many people think the funding is not the core issue. The bottom line is that there is a lack of accountability and choices within the community and government. This needs to change, and we can change it together.