Thirteen participants in the second class of LEADelaware celebrated a graduation ceremony on Friday, June 3, at the USDA State Service Center in Dover, capping two years of agricultural leadership training which began in Seaford, helping to raise a Habitat for Humanity residence and culminating with a tour of Peru’s agricultural industry (click link for photos). In between, the fellows enriched their personal style of leadership with a variety of experiences that broadened their interaction with Delaware agriculture – an industry, according to a recent University of Delaware study, that contributes $7.9 billion to Delaware’s economy.
LEADelaware fellows met regularly over a two-year period. The participants brought diverse agricultural backgrounds and experiences to inspire each other to implement new ideas to benefit the industry. Among the 13 fellows were three farmers, others were agency personnel representing USDA Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource and Conservation Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Delaware Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, an aerial applicator, high school agriculture teacher and commercial agricultural industry professionals.
Their agenda over two years, coordinated by Tom Ilvento, chair of UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of Food and Resource Economics, Bill McGowan, UD Community Development Extension Agent in Sussex County and Laurie Wolinski, UD Extension Associate in Food and Resource Economics Department included:
- Examination of public perception of agriculture by viewing and discussing the documentary Food Inc. within the college and with LEADelaware alumni
- Touring animal and crop farms in Delaware including UD’s farm
- Visited the Delaware Biotechnology Institute in Newark
- Met with local media
- Visited Washington, D.C.
- Developed and practiced leadership skills including conflict resolution, communication and decision-making.
- Developed stretch goals with Mike Nally, of Lead Your Way Solutions.
Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, who led the first LEADelaware class while serving as a UD Cooperative Extension Specialist, noted the importance of leadership for this industry. Delaware agriculture is a significant and diverse economic force. Change is constant. The class of LEADelaware II fully recognizes the challenges and rewards ahead and looks forward to playing their part.
LEADelaware seeks to build the next generation of leaders within the food, fiber and natural resources industries in Delaware. Sponsors include the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UD Cooperative Extension, Delaware Department of Agriculture and MidAtlantic Farm Credit.