Friday, May 30, 2014

Leadership Class

By Jennifer Stewart

Some people dream about making a difference in the world. Some dream about traveling to distant lands. I dream of both, which is partly why, for the last two and a half years, I’ve dreamed of being selected to participate in AgrIInstitute’s Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP).

Danica Kirkpatrick is a friend and colleague within the College of Agriculture. Her ALP nomination, application and acceptance were my first exposure to the program, but watching her journey made me long to walk the same path.

The dream became more vivid as I learned about the program’s professional development and service orientation. I also found out that many of my role models from all facets of the agricultural industry were ALP graduates. The program seemed so pivotal to helping me become the professional I hope to be in an industry for which I have a deep-seated passion.

As the daughter of farmers, agriculture is so much more than my professional focus — it’s a way of life. I saw many springs from the cab of a tractor, summers from the barn lot washing 4-H steers and fall harvests from the passenger seat of the combine.

Growing up to earn a living as an agricultural editor and writer is a path better and more meaningful than I ever imagined. That’s why the desire to participate in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program gripped me so tightly. Being the best professional I can be for the agricultural industry is personal.

I had been through the rigorous application process, including an essay, supervisor and spouse support documents, recommendation letters, and a 90-minute interview. I left the interview hopeful and feeling like it had gone well, but the 10-day wait to find out whether I’d been accepted was grueling. When I finally opened my mailbox and saw the letter with AgrIInstitite emblazoned in green across the top left corner, my heart skipped a beat.

I took a deep breath, then I ripped open that envelope faster than I’ve ever opened a piece of mail in my life. There it was, in bold, black letters: “CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected to participate in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP) Class 16.”

I had the same feeling in 1991.  I was selected for Ohio State University LEAD Class IV.  It was a 60 day intensive leadership study that took us all over Ohio, California and Western Europe.  It changed my life forever.  Some of the class members are still my closest and dearest friends.

If you ever get such an opportunity, take it.

Ed Winkle



6 comments:

  1. Ohio State LEAD has led me to a great list of activities since that 60 day training 20 years ago. We got involved with the 2010 Clinton County BiCentennial pictured above and the Leadership Clinton Dinner on the farm last summer. I wish we still had the LEAD Program in Ohio but us graduates can stimulate leadership in our local areas.

    Ohio Farm Bureau is behind the only state wide ag leadership programs in Ohio today.

    Ed

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  2. Next thing we know you'll be having an affair ... with the Bureau of Farmer Affairs!
    I think an organization with that that name should exist instead of just Farm Bureau, which looks more like a dull office job name.

    You do a great job broadening the mind of this middle-aged man, I think you'll do fine in this new qualification. Lots of farmers are excellent at what they do, but are tough as nails even considering the possibility that there are different crops or methods of farming or of doing business, they make great mentors for other farmers, but not so great leaders or representatives ("evangelists" as they call it in management classes) of the industry. Congratulations!

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  3. I guess I taught what I do too long! One is sure more believable if they actually practice what they preach!

    Ed

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  4. Congratuations. I was a member of class 5 IN Ag Leadership and it certainly changed my life. It is a wonderful experience and opportunity. You will love it. Linda Ault

    ReplyDelete
  5. Linda, I used to tractor pull with Ault's from North Central Ohio. I know the Ault family is large and often involved with agriculture across the Midwest.

    Ohio State LEAD Class IV definitely changed my life for the good.

    Ed

    ReplyDelete
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