The 24 members of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2022 recently completed the “Joyce Watson Leadership Orientation Seminar”. The seminar is endowed in the name of founding President and CEO of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF), Joyce Watson. This seminar marks the beginning of the participants’ journey in the IALF’s signature leadership development program. Due to restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, the seminar was held virtually.
IALF President and CEO, Lee Strom began the seminar with welcoming remarks, including addressing the challenges, integrity of programming and safety for the Class of 2022 during the pandemic.
Joyce Watson, President Emeritus of the IALF, also gave welcoming remarks during the session. Following were words of encouragement as well as an introduction to the IALF Board of Directors by IALF Board Chairman, Dan Kelley.
The morning session concluded with members of the IALP Class of 2022 introducing themselves and sharing their professional and personal backgrounds.
The afternoon session began with a presentation by Thomas Vilsack, Former United States Secretary of Agriculture, Former Governor of Iowa and current President and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council.
Vilsack lead a discussion on the “Critical Need for Leadership in Rural America.”, emphasizing the importance for leaders in agriculture to engage not only in our rural communities, but with those in urban and other industry sectors to create synergy for the betterment of our country.
Tami Craig Schilling, Agronomy Knowledge Transfer Lead, Bayer Crop Sciences and IALF Board Member, presented on “Walking the Walk of Leadership.” She emphasized to the Class of 2022 that a leader must meet challenges head on and expand one’s comfort range to address difficult issues and solve problems.
The final session of the seminar concluded with a brief presentation by Dr. Robert Easter, President Emeritus of the University of Illinois, IALF Board Member and Education Committee Chair. Dr. Easter spoke to generational challenges in relation to leadership.
Following his remarks, IALF Program Director Todd Lowery lead a group exercise with class members entitled “The Framework of Decision Making”. This timely exercise focused on a case scenario concerning making an important decision during the course of a pandemic. Lowery concluded the exercise with an examination of positional and moral authority leadership.
After further class discussion and closing remarks from IALF staff, the Joyce Watson Leadership Orientation Seminar was concluded.
The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program is a 19-month comprehensive education series that develops knowledgeable and effective leaders to become policy and decision makers for the agricultural industry. The program is funded by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation, a non-profit organization comprising individuals, companies, organizations and institutional partners. Program participants are selected from diverse backgrounds in Illinois agriculture, and program graduates have attained the highest level positions in commodity organizations and the nation’s leading agribusiness corporations.