State residents involved in the agricultural industry are about to begin a new adventure that will help them become better leaders.
Twenty-five individuals, representing 14 counties across the state, have been selected to comprise Class XIX of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program.
Edmond Bonjour, program director, said OALP is recognized as one of Oklahoma’s top leadership programs for emerging agricultural leaders.
“Our program began in 1982, and since that time 502 people have completed the 20-month program,” Bonjour said. “This new class will launch their OALP experience Aug. 22, and between that time and February 2020, they’ll experience agriculture in a whole new light.”
Oklahoma is a state heavily invested in agriculture. Because of that, OALP’s overall objective is to further develop emerging leaders for Oklahoma, especially in the field of agriculture. Participants are exposed to cutting-edge changes that are occurring in the agricultural and agri-business industries not only within Oklahoma, but the United States and beyond.
Kristin Knight, one of the new class members, said she is excited to be part of OALP.
“I set a goal to be a part of OALP because I wanted to further develop my knowledge and appreciation of agriculture, not only in Oklahoma, but also on a broader scale,” Knight said. “OALP provides its participants many experiences to gain a better understanding of all aspects of agriculture, including economically and culturally. I’m looking forward to learning alongside and collaborating with my fellow classmates, as well as strengthening my leadership skills to serve the agricultural industry.”
Class members will kick off their OALP experience Aug. 22-24 with a seminar in Stillwater. Seminars throughout the class will take them to different locations in Oklahoma where they will learn more about the various agricultural industries in the state.
Later in the winter they will travel to north-central Oklahoma and Kansas to gain a better understanding of regional perspectives of agriculture, credit/finance and agribusiness. During a seminar in Oklahoma City, they will discuss Oklahoma water issues, state government and the political party system.
Next spring the group will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will gain a better understanding of national government and its influence on agriculture.
“During this trip we’ll also stop in Pennsylvania to discover more about how farming used to be done and how it’s still being done in Amish communities,” Bonjour said.
Class XIX will finish up in spring 2020 with an international trip and have hands-on experiences that will help them develop a greater understanding of agricultural practices in other parts of the world.
“Throughout the entire program, class members will have the opportunity to interact with knowledgeable individuals who fill prominent leadership roles at the local, state, regional, national and international levels,” he said. “These experiences will help class members emerge as better leaders in the agricultural industry.”
Story by Trisha Gedon