The Virginia General Assembly has issued a joint resolution commending the County Supervisor Certification Program — an endeavor of the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension. The resolution also encouraged all county supervisors in Virginia to participate in the 18-month training program to enhance their leadership and decision-making skills.

“We are thankful that the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates has recognized how the Virginia Association of Counties and Virginia Cooperative Extension have worked together to bolster community viability efforts and provide leadership education to Virginia’s local leaders,” said Brian Calhoun, associate director of community viability for Extension.

In 2005, Virginia Cooperative Extension developed the curriculum for the County Supervisor Certification Program following requests by VACo members for more in-depth knowledge about local government operations. So far, five classes have completed the program.

“After six years, the program continues to be popular among supervisors,” said James D. Campbell, executive director of VACo. “I’ve been told several times that earning a certification is somewhat like earning a master’s degree. Supervisors have commented that the course work is just as challenging and the completion of the program is just as rewarding. I’m proud that VACo and the Virginia Cooperative Extension have been able to grow the program into something special.”

The certification program provides an overview of the basic issues, expectations, and practices associated with serving as a county supervisor, as well as detailed information about local government. Both Extension staff members and contracted personnel provide the training.

Each participant completes five core courses featuring both classroom instruction and self-directed learning on leadership development, duties, and responsibilities of public officials, community planning, local government finance, and collaborative governance. Participants also select three elective courses on topics such as conflict resolution and dispute management, team building, technology in local government, decision-making, and intergovernmental relations.

Extension’s community viability program also provides leadership development opportunities for local leaders through the Innovative Leadership: Building Community Connections program, which encourages participants to build leadership skills, increase awareness of community issues, network with other leaders, and become more engaged in community, civic, and governmental activities. There are no requirements for participants to hold elected office, and the program is flexible enough to meet community and participant needs.

The full text of the senate joint resolution commending the County Supervisor Certification Program is available online. For more information about the program, contact James Campbell, executive director of VACo, at (804) 343-2500.

VACo supports county officials and represents, promotes, and protects the interests of counties to better serve the people of Virginia.