As interviewed by Andy Metroka, 2017, Training Committee Member, Bozeman Community Representative
Peg Wherry was born in Iowa and has worked in Utah, Kansas, and Illinois before settling in Montana. She says there is nothing like the West and really enjoys the Bozeman community. Peg is an alumna of the Leadership Montana Class of 2011 and has recently retired from Montana State University.
Upon arriving in Montana she came on staff at Montana State University where she led the effort to implement an undergraduate online learning program. This program was a good fit for many students who had started their bachelor program but had not yet finished and were no longer attending MSU. With the online program they were able to finish their degree. It was interesting to learn that often the students in the online learning program do better than students in the traditional classroom setting. This is because everyone has to participate in order to complete their assignments, the professors tend to know the students better because they interact with each individual, and they are not bound by the duration of a traditional classroom schedule. The program has seen many students achieve their degree and the program is still going strong today.
One of Peg’s strongest memories of her Leadership Montana experience was the ‘Clearness Committee’. This was a gracious space exercise where approximately 8 classmates got together and one volunteered a situation they were dealing with. Over a 45 minute period all the others in the group could only ask thought provoking questions about the situation and no answers were given. The questions were then given to the classmate who volunteered the situation for thoughtful reflection. In her particular case, the critical thinking that ensued was actually used to resolve the situation. Peg continues to be involved in Leadership Montana by helping to organize alumni events.
The Leadership Montana experienced has had the biggest impact on Peg’s recent role as the President of her church congregation during a year that included a new minister and a major building project. There are many leadership opportunities when working with volunteer groups. The significant take-aways from her Leadership Montana experience were the networking, leadership curricula, and the community experiences. In particular, she often uses what she learned about gracious space in many aspects of the work she does with her leadership roles at her church.