LEADelaware Takes DC

We’ve been busy with baWhiteHouseGroupck-to-back sessions in February, March and April, so we apologize for the delay in posts. In March we were excited to visit Washington D.C. and talk with lobbyists from DuPont, American Farm Bureau and the National Association of State Departments of Ag, visited our legislative assistants, had a tour of the Capitol and White House, met with representatives from the United States Humane Society, had our photo taken with USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse (a good ole’ Delaware farm boy) and met up with ag leadership fellows from New Jersey. SSSHHH, it was a busy three days.

Check out some of the great photos from our trip by clicking here.

Stand strong on beliefs; bend for style – Day 3

LEADelaware Class III, Jimmy Hughes

LEADelaware Class III Fellow Jimmy Hughes

By Jimmy Hughes, Class III Fellow

On Friday, we LEAD Fellows began our day with another great meal. After breakfast, Tom passed out our first reading assignment, a book called The Food Police. Fellows are asked to read the material and be able to discuss in an optional January session. The optional session is on Wednesday, January 15 when the author, Jayson Lusk, will be presenting at the University of Delaware. Tom will be providing more instructions as the time gets closer.

Our first speaker of the day was Jayme Arthurs from NRCS. Mr. Arthurs presented an overview of the LEAD Class II international study trip. The fellows heard about the entire experience and what to expect. Mr. Arthurs expressed the importance of journaling during the entire LEAD program.

Our second speaker, Secretary Rita Landgraf, spoke to us about the Department of Health & Social Services and what the jobs are in each section. Secretary Landgraf also provided her insights and her thoughts on leadership and what it takes to be a leader. Secretary Landgraf shared the image of the tree picture she has in her office and that you have to keep strong on your beliefs, but be able to learn to bend for issues that are just style differences.

Next, Tom presented the argument clinic. This presentation shared ideas on how to effectively argue but not attack the individual. Tom also showed examples of a letter to the editor that he wrote about an issue in Newark.

After Tom’s presentation, he passed out a list of books that are approved for each Fellow to choose one and read about leadership. The LEAD class and instructors discussed their final thoughts and thanked everyone for their participation. Our next LEAD session will be Thursday December 12th at the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Ag, Demographics and Ice cream – Day 2

by Lauren Torres, Class Fellow

Lauren Torres, LEADelware Class IIII, Hopkins Farm Creamery Tour

Class III Fellow Lauren Torres enjoys a visit with the calves at Hopkins Farm Creamery.


LEADelaware Class III kicked off our second full day of activities with a video entitled “Delaware Agriculture: Farming in the First State” narrated by Delaware’s Agriculture Secretary and Ag Historian, Ed Kee.  The video set the stage for the class by showcasing the state’s agricultural past and present, to guide us into the future.

Secretary Kee was also our guest speaker for the day, providing insight on the various leadership roles throughout his career in agriculture.  The LEAD instructors presented information on demographics and statistics and explained why the two are so important.  Demographics and statistical information illustrate the dynamics of the industry and determines many of the daily decisions that affect its direction.

In the afternoon, the class first toured Hopkins Dairy Farm and Creamery followed by Dogfish Head Brewery.  The class learned about each agricultural business and its respective production processes from breeding cows, to fermenting grain.  In addition, the class also learned what kind of leadership styles each business possesses that got them where they are today, what their plans are for the future, and how they propose to get there.

The second day was concluded with an evening activity that as a group we had to decide and agree upon. We enjoyed playing a couple rounds of “Left, Right, Center” a fun dice game.

More Than Leadership Theory – Day 1

By Haley Keenan, Class Fellow

Haley Keenan, LEADelware Class III

LEADelware Class III Fellow Haley Keenan

This was our first meeting for the LEADelaware Class III.  We started off with introductions and telling a little about ourselves.  After the ground rules, we jumped right into the first presentation: “Finding the Leader Within.”  As we soon learned, there are many definitions for the word leader, but while some may fit and some may not, individuals are left to choose what they believe is a leader.  Anyone can be a leader.

Prior to the presentation, I had not considered this.  I always thought of a leader as someone in a position of authority, like a boss or a politician.  While these examples are correct, I was leaving out the less notable leaders of communities, groups, and families.  This led to the next point of the presentation – is a leader born? Or can it be taught?  There are theories that debate this such as the “Trait Theory”, the” Great Event Theory”, and the “Transformation Theory.”  According to the “Trait Theory” an individual is born with certain characteristics that destine him/her to be a leader.  The “Great Event Theory” is thought to make a person a leader when he/she goes through something that changes them.   And the last, the “Transformation Theory,” suggests that being a leader can be taught and a person can develop habits that make them a leader.  Throughout the session we kept returning to these theories.

Our first speaker for the session was Matt Haley, a local restaurant owner and entrepreneur.  After hearing his background in business, I had assumed that he would be speaking about his leadership within his restaurants but it turned out to be something much more inspirational.  Matt Haley was not only a leader within his businesses, but within his local and global community as well.  He has taken his successes and is helping those who need it.  After hearing all he is involved in, I was surprised he still had time to stay involved in his businesses.  He countered this by explaining that another aspect of a good leader is to be able to identify the right people for the right job, and that it’s perfectly fine to appoint or hire people for the jobs and tasks that you may not have the time or the skill to complete yourself.  Matt Haley was a great choice for a speaker because he showed us that being a leader in the community is just as important as being a leader in the work force.

Learning Leadership from First State Leaders

LEADelaware Class III Group Photo

L to R: Ben Snow, Robert Baldwin, Jimmy Hughes, Ben Coverdale, Haley Keenan, Philip Dukes, Lauren Torres, Paul Shipper, Trudy Kruger, Lynda Wright

It’s official – Class III held our first session on November 6-8 in Rehoboth Beach, with presentations from two Delaware cabinet secretaries and a successful food entrepreneur.

Delaware Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee spoke to the group about his personal eight traits of a leader, including having a clear vision and focusing on results (check back on future blogs to see the rest of them). Secretary Rita Landgraf, of the Delaware Department of Health & Social Services, discussed what it takes to lead the largest agency in the state. And businessman Matt Haley, of SoDel Concepts, talked about the importance of sticking with your goals and vision.

The class also toured Hopkins Farm Creamery and Dogfish Head Brewery, to learn about two successful Delaware value-added operations.

“Teaching leadership theory in a classroom is one thing,” said LEADelaware Program Instructor Tom Ilvento. “But the real essence of the LEADelaware program is the value of sharing real life experiences from leaders throughout the state and agriculture industry.”

Future programs will include a focus on agriculture and natural resources issues, public policy in Delaware and the U.S., food system policy and more.

Check back for additional blogs written by Fellows as they travel through their leadership journey.