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Al Rider receives Distinguished Citizen honor tonight

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Ceremony to be held at Historic State Theater

By Gayle Deaton

Al Rider prizes helping people achieve their dreams through education as president and CEO of North Central Education Foundation, but he never dreamed that he might receive an award for what he considers just doing his job.

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Rider, 63, a Hardin County native, has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Citizen award from the Lincoln Heritage Council Boy Scouts of America.

The award is presented annually to leaders who strive to improve Hardin County, are devoted to family and place duty to God, country and others before themselves.

Rider will receive the award Tuesday at a Friends of Scouting dinner held this year at the Historic State Theater.

“I was stunned,” Rider said, when he learned of the award. “It’s humbling when you look at the past recipients and the wonderful contributions they have made to the community.”

Although Rider said he never had the opportunity to get involved in the Boy Scouts program when he was growing up on a dairy farm near Upton, he has been a big supporter of the program and has helped organize awards programs in the past.\

Dan Leathers, Central Kentucky field director for the Lincoln Heritage Council Boy Scouts of America, said one reason Rider was chosen is his tremendous contribution to education in the Hardin County community.

“I believe everyone would agree that Mr. Rider has done a tremendous job over the years of improving the education atmosphere in our community,” Leathers said.

Leather said most people don’t realize that Congress chartered Boy Scouts of America in 1916 (though it was founded in 1910) as an education organization for young men.

“The selection committee believes that Al mirrors the aspects of the Scout Oath of “duty to others above self,” Leathers said.  “I’ve known Al for almost nine years, and I have seen the care and passion he has for this community.”

Rider has served as head of the North Central Education Foundation since 1992 and has been largely credited with improving educational opportunities through program development in Hardin County. He also has been instrumental in expanding college-level educational options.

Rider also serves as educational liaison for the BRAC transformation at Fort Knox. In his early career, Rider worked in radio broadcasting and then moved into marketing, banking and economic development in Tennessee before returning home to Hardin County to work for NCEF.

Rider said he wants residents to be able to pursue their educational goals and personal dreams without having to leave Hardin County to do it.

“Education is the key enabler of societal, cultural and economic development,” Rider said. “It’s the foundation upon which rests the destiny of a community. Hardin County is growing quickly, and it is imperative the educational infrastructure be strengthened.”

Rider also is a past winner of the the Joseph W. Kelly Award from the Kentucky Department of Education for exemplary leadership in education.

Gayle Deaton can be reached at (270) 505-1740 or gdeaton@thenewsenterprise.com.