Joey Dierdorf has served diligently throughout 2015, leading over 60,000 Arrowmen across 16 states that make up “The Great Midwest”. As you’ll see from his responses, it’s been one wild ride since Day One. He helped plan and run National Leadership Seminars across the region, promote High Adventure programs, gave numerous keynote addresses at various Lodge and Section events, and of course rang in the centennial year big time at the National Order of the Arrow Conference. As 2015 comes to a close, so does his term. However, he’ll be the first to tell you he refuses to stay dormant for long. Brothers, it is my honor to be able to share with you the final interview with Joey Dierdorf as the 2015 Central Region Chief. The humble, faithful servant. The majestic, ambitious leader. The inspirational light of a new era.
~Cory D. Johnson
Written Content Lead
Central Region Communications Team
Cory: What was your biggest goal for this year, did you accomplish it?
Joey: Well serving as a National Officer has really provided a great opportunity for self reflection. So, to start off the year, to understand the order’s goals and vision, I had to shape my own goals and vision for the order. A really had a lot of great support with that through the wisdom of our past region chiefs. Our main goal this year was really to “build the bench”. We really sought out to get more people involved within the Region. The obvious starting place for this was in the lodges locally. I mean nobody just starts out on the region level; we really had to foster growth and involvement locally first. I really wanted people to expand on their passions. As they gave to the order, we’ve really tried to give back to them by helping them identify their passions and grow in that.
Cory: That truly is a great mission to have. However, I have to ask: Did your goals ever change and progress throughout your term? Or did they start and end the same?
Joey: Well, it was a natural progression. The best way to provide an outlet for arrowmen to find and pursue their passions was to restructure our committees. So creating a sustainable platform for all of our committees was really a main goal for the year. We really started with logistics; getting all our goals and committee responsibilities on paper was the original intention, and it kind of umbrellaed from there. I mean you know our Communications Team was really dynamic this year, that really took off to lengths I couldn’t have imagined. I’m personally extremely proud of the High Adventure committee as well. It really shifted from simple promotion of the high adventure program to our whole winter banquet and recognition initiative.
Cory: Speaking from personal experience, I know you some great support regarding these committees, as well.
Joey: Oh yeah! Definitely! There were dozens of extremely dedicated, passionate people who really worked a lot behind the scenes to make our goals a reality. It’s been a really cool thing to see what we can accomplish when everyone shares a common vision.
Cory: Speaking of committees, I know there’s the Communications Team, and High Adventure committee, but would you mind explaining telling about some of the other committees we have within the Region?
Joey: Absolutely! First is the Section Officers Seminar committee. This is actually a new committee this year. SOS used to be the sole responsibility of the Region Chief. In the committee format with a diverse group of people possessing specialized skills, I have really been excited about this year’s SOS. Long time Region Adviser, R.D. Dunkin, had a big hand in SOS, so his death left a big hole in the program. So we really tried to use the committee to create a “sustainable dynamic” that can create less of a yearly cycle, and more of a unique, sought-after program. They realized section officers have served a varied amount of time, and we needed to make things applicable to everyone. Another committee is the Contract Completion committee. The only way to gage the measure of success our National Leadership Seminar has on arrowmen is through the contracts they sign at the end of the weekend that hold them accountable to make the order better through specific goals. The committee continues the conversation and follows up with NLS participants to make sure they have all the tools they need from us in order to implement a successful program. Then there is the NLS Promotion committee. Their main goal is to target the kinds of arrowmen who would benefit the most from NLS: older youth leaders with a passion for the OA. They also act as table guides by getting out there and really interacting with the participants. Our last committee, Section Gathering at NOAC committee, was a special centennial committee in the region. Their focus was to help each of our 12 sections implement a plan to facilitate a section-wide gathering. You know, a gathering 5,000 region arrowmen just isn’t sustainable. So these guys really helped to create a stronger bond between lodges within the sections.
Cory: So how do people get involved with committees?
Joey: Do what you’re passionate about. Focus on helping at home. If you run a committee within your lodge effectively and advance your lodge goals through that, people are going to notice. The OA is really big about giving praise to the dedicated, passionate arrowmen. That’s a really great start. Of course, you can always reach out to the chief as well, and they’ll get you in contact with the right person. There’s never going to be an incident where an arrowman who reached out to join a committee is going to be flat-out turned away.
Cory: By having Region arrowmen sign your sash at NOAC and referring to strangers in terms like “buddy”, many arrowmen say that you have ushered in a much more personable and down to earth style of leadership of our National Officers. What would you say to that?
Joey: I love that. I never set out to gain that reputation, but there is no greater compliment than that. All through my time in scouting, I’ve had great role models and leaders. I was delighted whenever I just had the opportunity to have a conversation with them. I am extremely blessed to use my position to serve as a role model to my brothers, who are just like me. If having a conversation with me makes their day, that’s pretty cool. The love I have received while serving has been amazing. I have the power to pass that on to arrowmen, to make their day or even change their life. And that’s certainly something I’ve tried to do. One of my favorite NOAC memories was attending a birthday party for a arrowmen that turned 13 during NOAC, the expression on his face to our (the national officer’s) attendance was priceless. And that signed sash is completely full of signatures by the way. That’s one of my favorite totems of this year.
Cory: That really is an inspiring outlook on the influence you possess. Now one of the most common phrases we hear when arrowmen describe the order to younger scouts or community members is “Scouting’s Honor Society”. How do you describe the order and your role in it?
Joey: Well there is so much more depth to “Scouting’s National Honor Society”. The one word I would use to describe the Order of the Arrow is “brotherhood”. It’s an all encompassing kind of word. Speaking as an only child, I never had the sense of the relationship between physical brothers. The OA really highlights that. Brotherhood means you can always count on your brother no matter what. It really is a term filled with compassion and virtue towards one another.
Cory: It’s really kind of a quirky thing we as arrowmen do: using rather complex terms with deep meanings as simplistic, common words.
Joey: Exactly. I really encourage arrowmen I meet to take a moment and think about the impact words have. There are some really awesome life lessons and hidden gems of wisdom within the Pre-Ordeal ceremony especially.
Cory: Being a college student, rabbit exhibitor, and Region Chief, there is no doubt you’re a busy man. What is your biggest piece of advice to arrowmen who struggle to find time to stay active in the order?
Joey: Don’t think of it things as“instead of. For example you shouldn’t have the mindset of “I’m going on another camping trip instead of spending time with my friends”. It is really important to think about what kind of skills you gain from your involvement in activities. At a basic OA campout, you’re bound to experience personal growth, have the opportunity to mentor younger scouts, and fulfill service opportunities. You can even make lifelong friends while you’re at it. This is by far the best organization to provide personal growth and nurture ambition.
Cory: Who is the biggest inspiration in your life?
Joey: There are actually three people who have really inspired me in my daily life. The first is Tommy Gregory. He has always supported me in Scouting endeavours. He was one of the first cool guys I really looked up to when I first went through Ordeal. He really exemplifies the meaning of brotherhood and makes sure everyone feels they belong in this organization.
The second is Ed Pease. For starters, he was a vastly successful man. He was a previous chairman of the national committee, a congressman, and vice president of Rolls Royce. He was such a genuine guy who showed real concern for you as a person. He could really make you feel like the only person in the world while carrying on a conversation. He was a true lover.
The third is Don Hough. He was the Central Region Chief in 2007,. He’s all about perspective. Being a national officer is a huge commitment. He has really made sure that I identify it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to step back, examine your vision, and serve as the voice of the people of this great organization. He constantly reminds everyone that your impact is how you want to help others.
Cory: So what do you want your impact and legacy as the Central Region Chief to be?
Joey: I’m always making sure I have everything set up for next guy and for the arrowmen I hope are going to be here one day. I have really made it my mission to make sure everyone feels loved, supported, and accepted within scouting.My first SOS was only my second time in Florida, and I was pretty nervous and intimidated by some of the big personalities. Then Marty Opthoff, who was Region Chief at the time started the program and made me feel I was right where I belonged. I want to make sure whoever is going to be leading the next century really has an opportunity to feel that way.
Cory: How has Brazil, IN received you as a practical Scouting celebrity?
Joey: *laughs* I don’t recall ever seeing it in the local paper. I don’t think many people realize what my role is within the order. You know, friends will see snapchat story and make comments to me like “Are you ever home?”. My Scoutmaster is in the OA. So I tried explaining to him kind of the structure of it, and where I am in that. He didn’t really get it. But you better believe he wears the lodge flap with my name on it proudly.
Cory: That’s rather amusing to me that you are leader of a prominent youth organization, and the voice of 60,000 individuals, yet your hometown doesn’t really know.
Joey: Well it reflects what the order is, right. In Order of the Arrow High Adventure, they teach “humble pride”. We do a lot of cool stuff, don’t have to flash it all the time, because we know we’re doing good stuff. As long as we know we’re making a positive difference, we are gold.
Cory: What lies ahead for Joey Dierdorf in Scouting?
Joey: I’ll be sticking around for a while. In 2016, I’ll serve in a new capacity as the youth member of the High Adventure sub-committee on the Order of the Arrow National Committee. I’m really excited about that opportunity. I’ll also be right here to support the new chief and continue supporting the sections, lodges, chapters, and troops within the Central Region. It’s a new century, and I can’t wait to watch the Order of the Arrow grow and evolve more than ever before!