GAINESVILLE—Twenty-seven of the state’s most promising agricultural and natural resources leaders have been selected for Class III of the Florida Leadership Program for Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Sponsored and directed by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the program is designed for people in the private sector who are already leaders but aspire to greater leadership roles in the private or public sectors in their communities, at state, national, or even international levels.
Out of 217 nominations, the 27 men and women in Class III were chosen from 17 different counties in Florida. A committee of state leaders selected the class, which reflects the state’s geography and variety of careers within the fields of agriculture, natural resources and related areas. The program begins the last week in February and ends the last week in October 1998.
“We are pleased with the quality of individuals in Class III as they bring diverse backgrounds to the program,” said Eugene Trotter, the program’s director and professor of agricultural leadership development at UF/IFAS. “We are helping them build a broader horizon to draw on for policy decisions in the industry, as well as giving them self-confidence to draw on from local to international levels.”
Members of Class III will attend seminars conducted by government and private business leaders, state and federal agency personnel, and university faculty and staff. Their training emphasizes not only understanding of issues facing agriculture and natural resources, but also focuses on communication skills, interpersonal relations, decision-making and problem-solving.
Modeled after programs in more than 30 states, the Florida program develops young leaders between the ages of 25-45. Through a two-year course of study, seminars and travel, program participants learn the importance of Florida’s agricultural and natural resources within the state, nation and world. The program is designed to give aspiring leaders a broader perspective and range of experience from which to draw upon when they assume decision-making roles in the future.
During the next two years, members of Class III will participate in 11 seminars with topics ranging from issues in Florida’s panhandle area and metropolitan issues to national and international issues. Participants will travel around the state, to Washington, D.C. and to foreign countries during the program.
Class III member Scott Emerson, managing editor of Citrus and Vegetable Magazine, said one reason he wanted to participate in the program was the level of enthusiasm he saw in alumni of the previous two classes. The program also provides opportunities to see how laws and legislation can affect agriculture and to learn how people in different regions of the state and the world view agriculture and natural resources.
“The program gives participants a broader perspective on how the general public views agriculture,” Emerson said. “Hopefully then we can help raise the awareness and sensibilities of the general public about agriculture and natural resources. Sometimes our industry thinks everyone knows we are good land stewards, but then some of the public may think farmers are out to just make money. Through the program, we hope to make a positive difference both within and outside of the agriculture industry.”