Welcome to the Ag Leadership Family
We understand that there is a real balancing act with work responsibilities, family priorities, volunteer obligations, and personal needs. Ag Leadership is an additional commitment – so how will it fit into your family’s life?
Our wish is to make the Ag Leadership Program a positive, rewarding and fun learning experience for all family members. On this page, we provide answers to frequently asked questions, a list of benefits and challenges, and tips from other spouses that we hope will help you during the journey
Frequently Asked Questions
Can spouses/life partners attend seminars?
Two seminars are specifically designed for spouses/partners to actively participate in — the first and last seminar of the program. These two seminars provide an opportunity for you to gain insight into the nature of the program, as well as connect with the others involved. Although supporting your partner/spouse and aiding them in their preparation throughout this program is highly encouraged, the remainder of the seminars are designed only for the participants.
Can we get the dates for the seminars?
Yes. There is a Class of 2020 Seminar Schedule on the IALF website that you can use to see the dates and locations of the seminars.
If we have other obligations, can a participant miss a seminar?
While the exception may be made in cases of emergency, we expect each participant to attend every seminar. Each seminar offers the opportunity for a high-quality learning experience, and are provided on behalf of generous contributions made by alumni and sponsors. We require attendance not only for the benefit of the participant but also to honor our donors.
How much homework will participants be required to do?
Participants are expected to arrive at each seminar prepared, as is expected in most educational programs. We encourage spouses and partners to participate, as appropriate, in readings and activities between seminars to both gain insight into your spouse’s/partner’s experience, but also to enrich your own knowledge.
How are the International Study Seminar locations selected?
The President/CEO and Program Director with the advice of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation select the locations based on learning objectives. We look for opportunities that provide the fellows with a unique growth experience, but at the same time keep an eye on safety. We look closely at the U.S. State Department travel advisories to not put the participants in harm’s way.
What happens if there is an emergency that occurs during the National or International Study Seminars?
For emergencies that occur at home, the staff members in the IALF office are in touch with the staff leading the seminars and can serve to relay information to the class while they are traveling. For the National and International Study Seminars, IALF has an emergency response plan and a communication plan that will cover most contingencies. In addition, you will receive an itinerary that will provide you with details about where the class is at any given time. For the International Study Seminar, we carry travel insurance that can be used to cover the costs associated with medical emergencies.
Is there an easy way for me to communicate with my spouse/partner while he/she is on a travel seminar?
Cell phone, internet access, and video conferencing tools such as Skype, make it possible to stay connected with loved ones traveling abroad. In some instances, cell phone and internet access may be limited due to location, despite our efforts to minimize those times. We also ask participants to refrain from taking calls while they are in session. During the National and International Study Seminars, the classes write a daily blog (posted on our website) so that you and others can keep up with their experiences.
What do I need to know to help my spouse/partner prepare for a seminar?
Allowing them the time to adequately prepare for the seminars is extremely helpful.
What should I expect when my spouse/partner returns from a seminar?
You know them better than we do, but engaging in a discussion or actively listening to them share their experience of the seminar helps them deepen their learning and can create a more enriching experience. It may even be helpful for you and your spouse/partner to develop a “seminar debriefing” routine that will be mutually beneficial. Above all, it helps to be flexible and allow them to talk about their experience when they are ready.
Are there opportunities for the families to get together?
Yes. The orientation and the graduation seminars include spouses/partners and provides an opportunity for families to connect. We also encourage the class members to plan some informal gatherings outside of seminar time. Most classes have some type of informal summer gathering to allow families, including any children, to come together. The relationships fostered through participants, as well the families, can last a lifetime.
Does IALF provide us a way to bring the spouses/partners together?
While IALF is not formally involved in bringing spouses/partners together, we can share a contact list with names and numbers. Social media and email also create an easy way for the group to connect.
To whom do I turn if I have questions about the program?
For any questions, your spouse cannot answer, the IALF office staff will be happy to help.
Been There, Done That: Tips from Spouses
The initial orientation seminar in August can be a very positive experience. You will have a chance to meet all of the participants in the class and the other attending spouses/partners. It is a very unique and select group of individuals from throughout the state. Meeting everyone at this seminar makes future gatherings and seminar conversations more enjoyable. The orientation seminar is where you get your first real understanding of exactly what is in store for your spouse and your family. Everyone is on the same page at that point – a little anxious, but excited about what the next two years will hold.
Participating in seminars, events, and activities will enrich your life immensely. You are encouraged to attend every seminar and function that you’re invited to. Being involved connects you to what your spouse/partner is going through, and at the same time, you can have your own educational experience.
As the spouse/partner of a participant, you are an integral, respected and welcome participant in the Ag Leadership journey. Your sincere interest and support will help to ensure a successful experience for all individuals involved.