(Posted Mon. Mar 12th, 2012)
Mar. 12: As many growers prepare for planting, a select group channeled their energy into becoming the most effective leaders possible through the National Corn Growers Association Advanced Leadership program, sponsored by Syngenta. The program’s second class completed the second and final phase of its training last week in Washington. The session helped qualified and motivated candidates finely hone their leadership and lobbying skills and prepared them to lead the industry forward.
During the course, a small group of active grower leaders explored the current political
climate while learning to improve their skills in many areas such as dealing with legislators and their staffs, the environmental community, regulators and state and national staff. While there, the six participants participated in a variety of exercises, including a public speaking and presentations training program created by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and sessions on topics including domestic hunger programs, options for navigating the farm bill through Congress and the challenges of the federal budget.
In addition to in-depth consideration of the complexities of current political issues impacting farmers, participants got a glance of government in action through a visit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where they met with USDA Chief of Staff Krysta Harden. Following the tour, class members split up to shadow NCGA’s Washington staff for a look at a day in the life of a lobbyist.
“The best part of the program was meeting with fellow leaders and really digging deeply into the issues that affect us at both the state and national level,” said participant and NCGA Grower Services Action Team Chair Brandon Hunnicutt. “By sharing our ideas and brainstorming with our peers, we were able to personally improve upon how we could lead our organizations into a brighter future.”
Advanced Leadership training aims to help develop top-notch state and national leadership that is empowered to share their skill set within the industry and community. It builds upon the Leadership at Its Best Program, also sponsored by Syngenta, which has helped develop corn industry leadership. Since 1986, NCGA, the state corn associations and, more importantly, the U.S. corn industry, have benefited tremendously from the original Leadership at Its Best program, which provides invaluable media, communications, association management and public policy knowledge and skills to its participants.
Attending the Advanced Leadership program this year were Bob Bowman (DeWitt, Iowa); Bill Chase (Wolsey, S.D.); Morris Heitman (Mound City, Mo.); Brandon Hunnicutt (Giltner, Neb.); Kevin Skunes (Arthur, N.D.); and Paul Taylor (Esmond, Ill.).
For the 2012-13 class, states may nominate two applicants for the Advanced Leadership program, one as a primary candidate and one to serve as an alternate. Nominees must be a member of NCGA, a graduate of Leadership at Its Best, and about to assume, or on the track to assume, a senior national or state leadership post. A selection committee empanelled by the Grower Serviced Action Team chooses the class. State associations have already received application packets for the next training, which are due to NCGA by April 15.