By: Emily Lehner
The city of Wabash has seen immense growth within the last decade. A once quiet and uneventful town has blossomed into a bustling place to be. This was made possible by the devoted attention and hard work of many, caring Wabash citizens, specifically, Mitch Figert.
Figert graduated from IWU with an associates degree in Business in 2009. He began working for The American Red Cross. After taking a few years off, Figert returned to IWU to finish his bachelor’s degree in Business with a specialty in Human Resources in 2013. He said, “IWU classes have an education and church mix, where they have class Bible studies and devotions weekly. I really enjoyed that.” Figert was drawn back to IWU a third time because of their online program, in which he pursued a Masters in Public Administration with a specialty in Nonprofit.
Figert took the lessons and joy he gained from his classes at IWU straight into the workforce. He now holds the Executive Director position for the Wabash County Historical Museum and has a chair on Wabash City Council. He said, “There are many really practical lessons that you get in the master’s program because it is so specialized to what I am doing.” Not only is he gaining knowledge through this time, but Figert is also bringing knowledge from the workforce into the classroom, which helps other students.
When Figert began his career with the Wabash County Historical Museum in 2013, he began developing a sustainable and relevant plan for the museum’s future. The museum serves as a collection site for county artifacts. One of the museum’s major focuses is on education. It uses authentic artifacts and the history of Wabash to teach the young minds that are growing in Wabash.
Figert also has introduced the Parkview Wabash Education Center. Before, “Wabash lacked a year-round indoor space for children to be in. This allows families to have creative play mixed with education,” he said. Annual attendance has almost doubled since the education center and community programming. The museum hosts family fun days every month that include crafts and free games.
The growth of the museum has been followed closely by many new businesses. Figert’s involvement with City Council and with many key committees has allowed him to be up close and personal to the renewal of this downtown area. Wabash now holds new boutiques, a unique toy store, and the Charley Creek Inn.
Figert said, “We have kids. We have friends that come to town to visit. We want to make Wabash attractive to a family.” Every first Friday of the month, downtown Wabash stays open after regular business to host families from around the area. This includes food, music, and specials within the stores for children.
Figert and the other workers of downtown Wabash apply this reoccurring family first principle in the workplace as well. Figert attempts to live his life in a way that people look up to him. He said, “Indiana Wesleyan has not only given me the skills to be great at what I do, but to truly be a person of character.” With summer right around the bend, Wabash is planning some special events. Figert and the citizens of Wabash plan to take full advantage of the great events happening there.
Emily Lehner is a writer for the Alumni Center, and is a Sophomore Writing major. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com. Her blog includes personal trials, triumphs, and devotion style writing.