The times they are a changing. That certainly applies to the Jaycees. What was once strictly a men's organization in the early 1980s has evolved into a gender-blind organization of young professionals with Storm Lake native Molly Redenbaugh now serving as state president.
Redenbaugh, who graduated from Storm Lake High School and Buena Vista University with a marketing degree, will take the helm as Iowa Jaycee President Jan. 1. Redenbaugh now lives in Ames where she works as a distribution specialist for Sauer-Danfoss.
Redenbaugh will head up 65 chapters statewide that have 2,500 members statewide. She served on the state cabinet prior to going onboard as president.
In leading the organization for young professionals, Redenbaugh sees tremendous networking opportunities for the organization that has grown from holding service projects to include professional member development among its chief goals.
"Jaycees has a tremendous amount of personal and professional training," Redenbaugh said.
As president, Redenbaugh wants to work on membership recruitment and retention and also work with Vision Iowa to keep young Iowans in the state, two goals that seem quite mutually compatible.
"We're working on keeping young people here," Redenbaugh said. "It's a huge problem" she said of the outdrain of young people from Iowa. Redenbaugh said Iowa ranks 49th in keeping young people in the state. As the new Jaycee president, she hopes to give people a sense of community while building them professionally.
Redenbaugh looks forward to an April 15 leadership training seminar by Dr. Jeff McGee which will help train young young professionals around Iowa.
Redenbaugh credits the Storm Lake Jaycees for their service projects. In Ames, the Jaycees put on the annual Fourth of July fireworks.
As an organization emphasizing leadership training for community service for young men and women 21-40, Jaycees emphasizes building communities, Redenbaugh said.
"Our vision is really to help people get plugged into their communities," Redenbaugh said. "That's the thing I want to get personally involved in."
Redenbaugh also wants to target the issue of declining Jaycee membership statewide, down from an all-time high of 10,000 to 2,500 presently. "That is my number-one goal," Redenbaugh said.
A lack of corporate sponsorships is one cause for declining Jaycee numbers. "It certainly hurt our marketing efforts as an organization," Redenbaugh said.
Redenbaugh also wants to get the word out that the Jaycees are an active, viable organization. Redenbaugh said last year Iowa Jaycees donated $1.5 million to their local communities.
"We want to let people know that, hey, we're here and we're doing things," she said.