The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2014 participants recently investigated the factors involved in solving world hunger, and the challenges facing corporations, individuals and philanthropic organizations in foreign countries. The “Global Challenges & Leadership Opportunities” seminar, sponsored by GROWMARK and held in Peoria, included presentations by 18 speakers covering a broad range of global topics. The IALP is sponsored by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF).
Over a two-year period the class is attending 14 seminars covering current social, political and economic issues in the agriculture industry. Following a review of the book ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, the group heard presentations on “Global Politics and Relations” focusing on three areas of the world: the Middle East, Africa and the European Union. The speakers included Yusuf Sarfati, Assistant Professor; Osaore Aideyan, Assistant Professor; and Michaelene Cox, Associate Professor; all from the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University.
The class was taken on a tour of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) following a presentation by Center Director Dr. Paul Sebesta and Deputy Director Katherine O’Hara. Following the tour, the class heard about efforts by Rotary International to develop clean water wells in developing nations in a speech by Dr. Todd Linley from Rotary District 6060 in St. Louis.
On the second full day, the class traveled to the new Caterpillar Visitors’ Center to learn how large corporations conduct business internationally and function as global partners. Siamak Mirhakimi, General Manager of the Electronics and Systems Integration Division at Caterpillar and an IALF Board Member, presented an overview of the international scope of the firm. Dr. Tim Lindsey, Global Director of Sustainable Development at Caterpillar, spoke on “Sustainability in Corporate Practices around the Globe,” and Lou Balmer Millar, Director, Research and Advanced Engineering, spoke about the 24/7 design and development activities in her talk, “The Velocity of Change – Doing Business Globally.” Mary Seely, Human Resources Manager, Advanced Components and Systems Division, spoke about “People Development for Global Operations.”
Following a tour of the Caterpillar Visitors’ Center, the group traveled to Precision Planting in Tremont, Illinois, to hear about the international scope of bringing precision seed placement technology to foreign countries. Sean Arians, Product Marketing Manager, discussed the company’s experiences in Africa, South America and on other continents. The day concluded with a tour of Prairie Farms Dairy processing plant in Peoria.
The final day of the Global Challenges Seminar featured Colleen Parr Dekker, Director, Global Corporate Communications of Elanco from Indianapolis, Indiana, who presented an update on the report “Making Safe, Affordable, Abundant Food a Global Reality.” Chet Esther, a 2008 graduate of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program and President of EFFCO CE Enterprises, was joined by Dr. Howard Brown, Science Officer at GROWMARK, to discuss their experiences bringing agricultural technology to people in Ghana. Bruce Giffin, General Manager of the Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative, spoke about efforts by the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association Foundation to bring electrical power to developing nations. The final day was summarized by Dr. Alex Winter-Nelson, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of ACE in the College of ACES at the University of Illinois. He spoke of the successes in reducing world hunger and the challenges that are yet to be completed in his discussion entitled, “Next Steps: Overcoming Challenges of Using Agriculture for Development.”
“This seminar is an excellent launching point for a discussion of the problems of global hunger,” said IALF President and CEO Don Norton. “Our future leaders now have a better understanding of the complexities of the many issues involved, and they’re inspired to make a difference on a global scale.”
The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation provides a two-year seminar series that develops knowledgeable and effective leaders to become policy and decision makers for the agricultural industry. It is a non-profit educational corporation under Illinois law. A board of directors, comprised of recognized leaders in agriculture and business, oversees the program. Candidates for the leadership program are selected during a competitive application process. Men and women 25 to 49 years of age working full-time in production agriculture or agri-related occupations are encouraged to apply. More information is available at www.agleadership.org.