The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2020 recently convened to examine issues concerning energy production, transportation, and ecosystems. The Martin L. Andreas Energy and Ecosystems Seminar was held in the St. Louis metro area August 21-23 and included presentations by nine speakers. The IALP is sponsored by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF). The seminar is supported by an endowment by the late Martin Andreas and his family.
The seminar began with a tour of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Research Center, followed by a roundtable discussion with Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Noah Fahlgren of the Danforth Center. They discussed with the class their research initiatives concerning biofuels and plant science to benefit agriculture.
Later that afternoon the IALP fellows visited Osborn Barr for presentations by Karen Pfautsch, Senior Vice President, and Suzan Knese, Chief Operating Officer, Osborn Barr. A reception hosted by Osborn Barr followed.
The second day of the seminar began with a tour of the Mel Price Locks and Dam in East Alton, Illinois. Fellows learned about the locks and dam system’s contribution to transportation, waterway and environmental management, and its impact on agriculture. Following the tour was a presentation on nutrient ecosystems challenges for the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico by Dr. Steven Herrington, Director, Science and Impact Measures with The Nature Conservancy.
The afternoon session began with a personal challenges panel discussion concerning the topic of grain marketing. The discussion was designed to tap into the expertise of IALP fellows in this segment of agriculture and share their knowledge and experiences with class members. The Class of 2020 also learned that afternoon that their international study seminar next February and March will see them traveling to Israel and Kenya, providing the opportunity to learn more about the latest and future initiatives for agriculture and technology in the two countries.
Rounding out the second day of the seminar was a visit to Eckert’s Country Store and Farms in Belleville, Illinois with a tour and dinner hosted by Lary Eckert (IALP ’84) and his son, Chris Eckert (IALP ’04). The evening was coordinated by the St. Louis Agribusiness Club and featured Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert as the keynote speaker. Several congressional staffers were in attendance as part of the St. Louis Agribusiness Club’s Agmazing 2019 tour. Dean Campbell (IALP ’86) helped facilitate the evening between the IALP fellows and the St. Louis Agribusiness Club.
The final day of the seminar concluded with a visit to the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) on the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville campus. IALP fellows were given the opportunity to tour the research center and hear from John Caupert, Executive Director of the NCERC on the research being conducted at the center.
The seminar concluded with presentations from Jim Bauman, Vice President of Market Development of the National Corn Growers Association and Kelly Davis, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs with the Renewable Fuels Association. Their presentations focused on ethanol and biofuel initiatives and the industry’s future challenges.