23 Oct 2011 - Leadership is Out There

During the course of a year, I attend many meetings and conventions of national and state farm organizations and commodity groups. At times I find myself wondering where we will find the young, new, capable leadership to take over when the current leadership says it’s time to move on or retire. It is a concern. It should be a concern for all of us in agriculture because in this highly technological world of communications we need capable leaders who can lead and deliver an articulate message on behalf of America’s farmers and ranchers.

Then comes a week like I’ve just concluded and my concern is greatly diminished. Those leaders are out there. I found them in Indianapolis at the National FFA Convention where I spent four days with these young leaders; people who have already set goals and beyond that, have laid out the roadmap to reach those goals. We do have capable enthusiastic people ready to move into leadership roles.

Beyond that, I attended my last meeting as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National 4-H Council, having served my two three-year terms. During my time on the board I found a growing 4-H membership and strong individual and agribusiness financial support for 4-H. I look at 4-H and FFA as the two best leadership building organizations for young people on the planet today.

But what about leadership training for adults? I have been involved with the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation as a board member for thirty years and during this busy week had the opportunity to address state directors of agricultural leadership programs at their Chicago convention. There, too, I heard many examples of graduates of these programs moving into positions of leadership on a local, state and national level.

So, I can rest much easier, but at the same time, I would urge you to support these organizations with your time and money; become a volunteer 4-H Club leader, encourage your school administrators to maintain agricultural education and FFA in your high school, and finally, strengthen your own leadership qualities by participating in your state leadership program. Agriculture needs strong leaders and voices.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.