“The Statesmanship Academy helped shape my future in impacting the verse that I want to leave on the world, a verse heavily inspired by Senator Wendell Ford and his commitment to civil discourse. The academy instilled me with poise when discussing controversial topics with peers I might disagree with and further taught me to think and discuss with an empathetic heart and a calm, compromising mind.”

~ Caroline Brake, Statesmanship Academy Alumni ‘16
Georgetown University


EmergeNext is a non-partisan, three-day program of the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center focused on identifying, educating, and engaging young leaders in servant leadership in order to make a positive impact on their community. EmergeNext will introduce young leaders to a variety of issues that impact the Greater Owensboro region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with a particular focus on developing leadership skills, working together, and learning to compromise to solve problems.

For more information please contact Diane Ford, Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center at or call (270) 316-6875. Applications can be emailed or mailed to the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center, P.O. Box 1751, Owensboro, KY 42302, Attention- Diane Ford.


  • Improve the quality of life in the Greater Owensboro region by identifying and cultivating young people as future community leaders;
  • Expose participants to a wide variety of local leadership—governmental, business, and nonprofit—and other notable citizens;
  • Educate and acquaint participants with relevant community issues, their history, and future possibilities.
  • Encourage independent and critical thinking, cooperation, and civility, in order to foster a new generation of responsible citizens and public servants;

The Program:

EmergeNext will consist of three one-day sessions.  Students receive an excused absence from their schools for these days. The sessions will include, but not be limited to the following topics: 1) Challenges and opportunities facing our community and state, 2) Individuals who have made a difference in our community, 3) Ethics in public service, 4) Working together to create a consensus.

Program Requirements:

As a member of EmergeNext program, it is expected that you attend all three sessions and participate fully in group discussions and activities. Students must be freshmen in high school to be apart of the EmergeNext program. 

The Wendell H. Ford Statesmanship Academy

Overview and Objectives:

In keeping with this mission, the Center has established the Statesmanship Academy.  This non-partisan program offers students of varying backgrounds and abilities, experiences in developing their leadership potential, as well as gaining an understanding of the issues that face our community, state, and nation. 

The Academy is designed to be activity as well as lecture based and will consist of five all day meetings during the school year for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  Students will gain an appreciation of public service and an understanding of the attributes of statesmanship/leadership as well as skills needed in any discipline or work environment; such as meeting timelines, effective listening, punctuality, and group consensus building.             

For more information please contact Elizabeth Griffith, Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center at or call 270-316-8387. Applications can be emailed or mailed to the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center, P.O. Box 1751, Owensboro, KY 42302, Attention- Elizabeth Griffith.


Components of Wendell H. Ford Statesmanship Academy

  • Students are encouraged to take high school courses in Government, History, Geography, and Economics. 
  • GO VOTE Campaign: In partnership with the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center recognizes the importance of improving voter turnout in our community. Each election year the Chamber’s Advocacy Committee leads the charge to motivate and get the Owensboro-Daviess County community to the polls. It’s important that our elected officials hear our voice at local, state and national levels. Statesmanship Academy students will have the opportunity to learn more about voter turnout, how it affects their community, and will have the opportunity to take part in the GO VOTE initiative.
  • Students will attend seven all day meetings during the school year to learn about the skills and attributes of effective statesmanship/leadership which are:
    • Willingness to listen to opposing positions
    • Ability to practice civil discourse in discussion of issues
    • Ability to build consensus and compromise.
  • Students will also learn about local, state, and national government and how government policies affect areas such as:  Healthcare, Local and State Economy and the Global Marketplace, Judicial Systems, Natural Resources and Environment, Education, and Culture. 
  • Sophomore Academy members will focus on local issues and solutions while having an opportunity to visit local sites and meet with local elected officials.
  • Junior Academy members will focus on statewide issues and travel to Frankfort during the legislative session to meet with our local representatives and gain a better understanding of the state legislative process
  • Senior Academy members will focus on national issues and solutions while having the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. to learn more about our federal government and the political process. Seniors will also participate in discussions concerning the structure of the federal government and the principles of leadership necessary for effective government. 

Statesmanship Academy Requirements:

  • Students may only enter into the Statesmanship Academy their sophomore year of high school. 
  • Students in the Statesmanship Academy must attend 5 out of the 7 regular meetings.
  • Students will also required to attend 2 additional group events outside of the school day which will include: An Owensboro City Commission or Daviess County Fiscal Court meeting, a Chamber of Commerce sponsored legislative forum (in February and March on Saturday mornings featuring our state legislators discussing current issues before the Kentucky General Assembly) or a political forum featuring candidates for elected office.
  • In keeping with Senator Ford’s motto, “Serve to Learn, Learn to Serve” students are required to participate in 2 community service opportunities throughout the year (one per semester).  We believe it is important for our students to be leaders in this community when it comes to giving back to it.  We will meet as a group to volunteer at the Humane Society, Animal Shelter, Girl’s Inc, The H. L.  Neblett Center and many other local organizations.