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Twenty- and 30-something men and women stand at a fence looking at cattle in a pen at the Apache Livestock Auction.
The Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program provides leadership development and industry knowledge to members of the agriculture community. The 21st class of OALP is underway, with informational tours including a visit to the Apache Livestock Auction. (Photo courtesy of Edmond Bonjour)

Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program marks 40-year milestone

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 |

The Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program, an experience dedicated to empowering leadership in agriculture and rural Oklahoma, celebrates 40 years in 2024.

Since 1982, OALP has been a trailblazer in providing leadership development for Oklahoma residents involved in the agricultural industry. OALP is hosted through Oklahoma State University Agriculture to attract potential leaders and encourage them to reach their full potential.

One of the program’s objectives is to help participants expand their knowledge to take on leadership roles in their communities and beyond, said OALP director Edmond Bonjour.

“It's a leadership program to expose the participants to different aspects of agriculture,” he said. “We tour around the country and learn as much as we can about agriculture in different regions.”

Bonjour was a member of Class XIII; he took over as OALP’s director just two years later, in April 2010. His wife, Rose Bonjour, is also an OALP graduate.

An OSU Extension specialist for stored grain entomology and plant pathology, Bonjour wanted to apply his passion for education to the program.

“It’s been very rewarding for me,” he said. “It’s always fun and exciting to see how people grow from timid and reserved to involved and outgoing and how they advance after our program.”

OALP is a two-year program, requiring class participants to attend about 55 days of seminars locally and abroad.

“We expect that participants commit 100% to those 55 days,” Bonjour said.

Most of the program seminars take place in Oklahoma and southern Kansas, but OALP participants also spend eight days on the East Coast learning about the area’s agricultural industry and legislation. Each class ends with a two-week international experience.

The program tours and farm/ranch visits showcase different aspects of agriculture, which Bonjour said encourages diversity among participants.

“It makes the class that much better,” he said. “Even though they learn from our seminars, a lot of the learning comes from one another.”

Bonjour witnessed the collaboration in a recent class when one participant with nearly 40 years of experience in the banking industry taught many of the younger participants about finances and investing.

Aside from agricultural knowledge, OALP participants gain insight on economic and governmental systems, effective communication strategies and leadership skills. 

“They have a working knowledge of the different aspects of agriculture,” Bonjour said. “We hope they use that information to become better leaders and that it encourages them to take on leadership roles.”

Three alumni of OALP currently serve in the Oklahoma Senate, and many others serve in leadership roles within their communities, regions and the state.

Dr. Brain Arnall, OSU Extension precision nutrient management specialist and professor in the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, is an alumnus of Class XV.

“As a new state Extension specialist, I came to realize many farmers and industry leaders I interact with regularly were OALP alumni,” Arnall said. “I could easily see how it would benefit me to get a rapid introduction to a very diversified state and develop leadership skills and relationships along the way.”

Arnall is one of 21 alumni from OALP Class XV, which included Oklahoma residents and a few from Texas and Kansas.

“I joined to learn more about our amazing state and develop new relationships,” he said. “I graduated with a sense of awe to the true diversity and beauty of our state’s agriculture system, along with lifetime friendships.” 

Arnall’s classmate, Blayne Arthur, serves as Oklahoma’s first female secretary of agriculture, while another, Todd Love, serves as chair of the OALP Advisory Council.

OALP allows participants to get an immersive view of the agriculture industry — from producer operation tours at the micro level to state and federal legislative processes affecting agriculture.

“My biggest takeaway from this program is the relationships I’ve created,” Love said. “Other programs I’ve completed are different. OALP participants are almost family.” 

Love completed his OALP class experience from 2010 to 2012 and served on the OALP Advisory Committee for eight years before taking on the role of committee chair. The committee discusses how to solve current agricultural challenges that many OALP members, past and present, encounter in the industry.

“OALP supports graduates serving as leaders in their communities, state and beyond,” said  Dr. Damona Doye, associate vice president of OSU Extension, OSU regents professor and an OALP advisory council member. “The program offers participants a unique opportunity to interact with agricultural leaders locally, nationally and internationally.”

OALP Class XXI is underway, and applications for Class XXII will open in February 2025. Visit the OALP website or contact Edmond Bonjour to learn more.

Story By: Laney Reasner |

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