Leadership Aiken County is accepting applications for its 2014-2015 class.

Its a truly wonderful way to learn more about this area, said Lauri SoJourner, class coordinator. You also learn skills that you can apply anywhere.

Established in 1982, Leadership Aiken County is designed to identify, develop and motivate new leaders in the local community. Participants in the program get involved in intensive team-building activities, and they work together to develop and implement a community impact project. Exposure to local issues, regional resources and county and state leaders also is part of the experience.

I went through the Leadership Aiken County program when I had lived here for only a year, and its what made me personally decide that this was really home for me and where I wanted to be, said SoJourner, who also is the executive director of Gravatt Camp and Conference Center.

The 2014-2015 class starts in September with a mandatory three-day retreat and continues until next June with monthly daylong sessions focusing on a variety of topics, including history, the horse industry, human services, diversity, economic development, government and education.

Tuition for Leadership Aiken County is $650.

I think its an excellent investment that employers can make in their employees or an individual can make in themselves, SoJourner said. We have a limited number of partial scholarships that are available.

For more information, go online and visit www.leadershipaikencounty.com, call SoJourner at 803-443-4533 or email director@campgravatt.com.

The deadline to apply is July 31.

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.