Since 1984, the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation has sponsored an International Travel seminar as part of it’s’ leadership development programming (IALP). To date, IALP classes have visited 31 different countries. This year, our Class of 2010 will be following in the footsteps of previous classes from 1990 and 1998 when they travel to Brazil and Argentina for ten days of international studies.
What most people don’t realize is where the journey really begins. Back in January, these young leaders met for two snowy days at the University of Illinois’ College of ACES (Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences) in Champaign-Urbana. Programming Director, Rich Vogen and his team, kept our group warm and well fed, while delivering meaningful content to the class during their International Perspectives seminar, a session designed to enhance the experience these motivated young professionals hope to gain from their trip.
Dedicated ACES staff and associates braved the weather and interrupted their winter breaks in order to deliver pertinent and useful information that provided an excellent backdrop on agricultural practices, governments, economies and cultures of the two countries. One of the presenters, Dr. Peter Goldsmith, the Soybean Industry’s Endowed Associate Professor in Agricultural Strategy and Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Lab, helped plan the trip. Dr. Goldsmith will also join the group while they are in Brazil and the soybean fields of Mato Grosso.
Interim ACES Dean, Robert Hauser, has carried on the proud tradition of partnering with the IALP twice during the two-year leadership experience. Last February, the College of ACES hosted this same group for its’ National Ag Policy seminar. The three day event was another preparatory session, targeted toward adding value to our National Travel seminar that took place last March in Washington, D.C.
It is humbling to have a world class land grant university share our mission of meaningful and measurable leadership development that benefits agriculture. The University of Illinois dominates as the alma mater most represented by IALP alumni and active participants, and we are always treated like family when we return to campus. We are to be blessed with such a valuable resource that makes it possible to achieve our educational goals.