Join us as we discover the community through Leadership Portage County

Leadership Portage County took its newest class inside Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center for a tour. Jenna Gobrecht/The Portager

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a new series produced in partnership with Leadership Portage County, an organization that seeks to deepen people’s interest and understanding of our community and to develop community leadership. As part of that mission, LPC invites a group of individuals to participate in a year-long program of educational and networking events. The Portager’s Jenna Gobrecht has been invited to participate in this year’s class and to write about her experience.

Hi there! If we haven’t met yet, my name is Jenna Gobrecht and I recently began my role as director of sales and growth here at The Portager. 

I’m originally from Pittsburgh, but I spent the last four years living in Portage County while attending Kent State. In that time, I fell in love with all that Portage County has to offer, but I wanted to learn more and become better integrated in the community. To do that, I decided to join this year’s Leadership Portage County class of 2023. 

If you’re not familiar with Leadership Portage County, they provide unique insights into Portage County by exploring and developing various styles, theories and examples of leadership through their training course. LPC provides opportunities to build relationships and networks and serves as a catalyst for volunteerism and positive change in Portage County.

Our entire class kicked off LPC with a delicious dinner at Restoration 44 coffee shop, catered by Jake’s Eats in Mantua. The whole class of 2023 met for the first time and the room was anything but quiet, and that’s a great thing. It was fun to sit in a room full of like-minded people who have the same mission as I do: to help the Portage County community thrive in the area I specialize in. 

Throughout the night, we shared a great meal and got to know each other. To wrap up, we played a fun round of the name game (i.e. everyone gets in a circle and says their name, plus everyone’s name ahead of them in the circle) and then all headed home to rest up for our eventful morning ahead. 

Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center. Jenna Gobrecht/The Portager

The next morning, we visited Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center, a military base for the Ohio Army National Guard. Most people know it as the Ravenna Arsenal because of its historical purpose. 

We began our day with an informative presentation from a sergeant at the camp. We dove into the camp’s rich history and physical layout. It was interesting to see how much training is offered here for service men and women. The installation offers over 20 different training and simulator courses with more being added each year. 

The size of the installation itself is massive. The base takes up nearly 34 square miles of Portage County, and it’s federal land. The general public usually will never have access inside. As we toured the 21,500-acre facility we got to see some of the many rescue and weapons ranges they use for training. A lot of the equipment on the base is from when the camp was producing ammunition for the Korean War and World War II.  

Last but certainly not least, on Friday our class volunteered for Habitat for Humanity Portage County. We got straight to work shoveling and wheeling piles of dirt around the property, building cabinets, painting doors and so much more. 

Our biggest challenge of the day was spreading and leveling the new soil and planting grass. This big pile of dirt (pictured below) was dumped in front of us early that morning, and needless to say, we all looked at it knowing how much work was ahead of us. 

Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Portage County. Jenna Gobrecht/The Portager

But with a whole lot of hands and some of the kindest teamwork I’ve ever been a part of, the huge dirt pile was no match for us. This day of volunteering brought to my attention that maybe we should adopt the same perspective when dealing with the biggest issues within our communities. If we all put in a hand and work diligently together, problems become smaller and we can make a bigger difference, more quickly. 

My journey with Leadership Portage County continues this month with a daylong drive through all of Portage County. I can’t wait to take you along with me.

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Jenna Gobrecht is Director of Sales and Growth at The Portager. Reach her at [email protected] or 330-548-1717.