(Posted Thu. Aug 8th, 2013)

Aug. 8: Growers are gathered today in Minneapolis, Minn. for the first session of the NCGA Leadership Academy, co-sponsored by Syngenta. Upon completion of the program in January, the participants will join more than 500 colleagues who have graduated from this program in the past 27 years.


At the meeting, participants got up-close look at NCGA from President Pam Johnson, who is also a Leadership Academy alumnae. Fellow alumnus and NCGA First Vice President Elect Chip Bowling provided an insightful examination of the main issues facing the association, and the nation’s corn farmers, today.


The farmers attending took part in media training and public speaking exercises as well as association management skill building. In addition, the class enjoyed a look at the future trends that will impact the industry and a comprehensive economic forecast given by futurist Bob Treadway.


“As a Leadership Academy graduate, I have a deep appreciation for the confidence and skills attendees develop in such a short time, and of the ability of Syngenta and other presenters to hone in on what is most needed,” Johnson said. “As NCGA president, I am excited to see new leaders who want to take on an active role in the association. When these volunteers come together, you can feel their passion for the industry. It is heartening to know that such strong farmer leaders will carry on our mission well into the future.”


This year’s Leadership at Its Best Class includes: James Burg (S.D.); Ray Dean (N.Y); Don Duvall (Ill.); Chris Edgington (Iowa); Chuck Emanuel (Neb.); Philip Gordon (Mich.); Rick Gruber (Neb.); Ken Hartman Jr. (Ill.); Scott Hays (Mo.); Gail Leirer (Ohio); Patty Mann (Ohio); Randy Melvin (N.D.); Jerry Mohr (Iowa); Thomas Mueller (Ill.); Brad Schad (Mo.); Mark Sponsler (Colo.); and Harold Wolle (Minn.).


Open to all NCGA membership, Leadership at Its Best provides training to interested volunteers of all skill levels.  The second session, which will be held this January in Washington, addresses public policy issues, working with the Hill and parliamentary procedure.  Through this program, participants build the skill set needed to become a more confident public speaker with a solid background in the procedures and processes used by NCGA and many state organizations.


Participants must be registered members of NCGA. 


Since 1986, the National Corn Growers Association, the state corn associations and, most importantly, the U.S. corn industry, have benefited tremendously from the Syngenta- co-sponsored Leadership At Its Best Program.  Over 500 growers have gained invaluable media, communications, association management and public policy knowledge and skills over the lifetime of the program. 


As a measure of the impact of this program and its importance to NCGA and its current effectiveness as an organization, one only need consider the Class of 2002.  Those 20 growers include five current or former Corn Board members—including two past presidents—and five action team members.  Leadership at Its Best has been a vital leadership incubator for honing the skills of state leaders on “the way up” and stimulating further involvement in and greater commitment from state growers to NCGA.