Wedgworth Leadership Institute Seeks Nominations for Class XI

By Christy Chiarelli

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The UF/IFAS Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture & Natural Resources (WLIANR) is accepting nominations for Class XI participants in one of Florida’s premier agricultural leadership programs.

The two-year comprehensive program, which will begin in November, is designed to develop the leadership skills of participants involved in agricultural and natural resource enterprises in Florida through various training sessions, workshops and travel to Washington, D.C., and abroad.

“Florida agriculture and natural resources face enormous challenges, and leaders are the problem-solvers who mobilize responses,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida and leader of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Wedgworth not only equips emerging leaders with what they need to know but whom they need to know to lead change.”

Ideal candidates for this program are 25 years or older, are involved in Florida’s agriculture and natural resources industries, and demonstrate strong leadership potential. Additionally, participants should like to travel. There are 12 study/travel seminars across the state, which are typically three to five days each in alternating months; one national trip to Washington, D.C., and other states of interest; and a three-week international trip.

“The candidates selected for this program are already leaders in their respective industries. Our goal is not to teach leadership, but rather, to provide existing leaders with an introduction to public policy and to create a networking system for participants to develop professionally and use their skills to address issues affecting Florida’s agriculture industry and natural resources,” said Christy Chiarelli, WLIANR program director.

During the first year of the program, class members develop a thorough understanding of current and projected political, social, economic and cultural issues facing decision makers at the community, metropolitan and state levels. They also learn to provide leadership in addressing issues at these levels. The second half of the program is devoted to national and international issues and their impact on the state of Florida. The result is a group of leaders active in Florida’s agriculture and natural resources areas, prepared to address the challenges of our state with vision and experience.

“The Wedgworth Leadership Institute provided me with the opportunity to become familiar with many facets of agriculture not only in the state of Florida, but also nationally and internationally,” said Martin Hackney, co-owner of Hackney Nursery. “The class and travel experiences exposed new ideas that can be applied in our family business. I am honored to be a graduate of Class X. Being part of such a prestigious program will always be a highlight of my career.”

Past participants have reported WLIANR provided them with an enriching experience that promoted personal growth, provided outstanding networking opportunities, enhanced their understanding of policy development, and improved their analytical and personal skills.

“It was a privilege to be a part of Class X,” said Cathy Atchley, owner of On Point Ag, Inc. “The breadth of knowledge and experiences gained is unmatched. It’s almost impossible to list the total benefits to individual participants – but certainly visible as you see the impact of WLIANR alumni across the state. Florida agriculture and natural resources industries are well equipped for success thanks to the training and actions of WLIANR class members.”

Visit to access the nomination form. The deadline for nominations is July 15. Applications will be sent to nominees. Completed applications will be reviewed by a selection committee. All qualified applicants and spouses will be invited to a regional meeting to receive further details.



Contact: Christy Chiarelli, 352-392-1038,

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS website at and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.


Posted: May 28, 2019

Category: Agribusiness, Agriculture, Professional Development
Tags: Christy Chiarelli, Jack Payne, Leadership, Wedgworth Leadership Institute

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