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Leadership Safari returns to CMU


Students tour the grounds in front of the University Art Gallery during the Leadership Safari Friday, Aug. 14.

The limited capacity of Leadership Safari 2020 meant participants missed out on events that make the experience memorable for many. This year, those events are back, but different. 

With just over 1,000 participants, the traditional conference took place Aug. 25-27 with COVID-19 protocols in mind, including requiring masks while using indoor spaces.  

The schedule featured in-person events that were cancelled last year because of COVID-19 risks, like opening and closing celebrations, live entertainment, speakers, Pizza with Professors and a challenge course. 

Leadership Institute Assistant Director Jonathan Glenn said Safari was condensed from a five day program to three days to reflect less funds from declining enrollment. Despite the switch, he said, Safari featured the same programming as past years. 

Several performers and speakers from previous years returned, like slam poet and speaker Ebony Stewart, motivational speaker Monti Washington and comedian and juggler Marcus Monroe. Beatbox and DJ artist SungBeats, new to Safari, was the evening entertainment on Wednesday.

Safari programs took place all across campus. McGuirk Arena and Plactha Auditorium hosted speakers and performers and some classrooms were used for group training sessions. Some events, like Pizza with Professors at Rose Ponds, were held outside. Meals took place at residential dining halls.  

“The biggest challenge is tradition,” Glenn said. “People have done Safari for years now, so they’re looking for a certain level of entertainment—excitement—and we just don’t want to lose that.” 

Safari Staff Assistant Kate King was a new student at Leadership Safari in 2018 and was a Safari guide the last two years. 

“Safari’s been one of my favorite experiences for the past four years now," King said. "So now it’s getting to do this job and plan it, trying to make it the best for everybody around me has been super rewarding, so finally seeing it all come to fruition is pretty cool.” 

Glenn said it is important for new students to attend Safari because they are able to see themselves represented by student leaders who are not much older than them, like King. 

More information on Leadership Safari 2021 can be found via the Leadership Institute website, as well as the COVID-19 plan for the conference.