Indiana's premier leadership development organization for agriculture is AgriInstitute, based in Danville, Ind. Its leading program is the two-year leadership class that involves travel and lots of hard work by the some 30 participants in each class. The program is now into its third decade. Some graduates include Don Villwock, president of Indiana Farm Bureau, and Joe Kelsay, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
Each year the group is led by a group of officers that help guide the organization. Beth Archer is the executive secretary, and has been in that post for decades as well.
The newly elected chairperson for 2011-2012 is Brian Buchanan, now with Buchanan Rigging and hauling in Indianapolis. For several years, Buchanan was executive director of the Indiana FFA Foundation and was largely responsible for raising funds for the Foundation. Many of those funds were in turn used to support the activities of the Indiana FFA Foundation. Buchanan set records in fund raising during the last two years while serving in is capacity with Indiana FFA.
The vice chairman is Janelle Deatsman. She represents Maple Leaf Farms, and is based in Milford in northern Indiana. Maple Leaf Farms is one of the largest duck producers in the country.
The secretary of the 2011-2012 year is Eric Schilling. He is employed by Elanco Animal Health, based in Greenfield.
The treasurer remains Dan Arnholt, Bartholomew County. A graduate of one of the earlier classes, Arnholt has served as treasurer for many years. He and his wife, Susan, operate a farm near Columbus. Arnholt is retired from the electrical energy service business, and was manager of the Bartholomew County REMC before he retired to go back to help on the farm. He has been instrumental in helping set up endowment funds in various counties where former graduates live and work. These endowments help raise money that can then be used to support and help defray the costs for members of future leadership classes.
Thirty individuals, not all from production agriculture, are now in the current class, Archer notes. They are mid-way through their two-year class.
Taking advantage of new technology, members of the group are sharing their insights and learning via pod-casts which can be downloaded from the AgrIInstitute web site, www.agriinstitute.org. Applications for the next class will be available soon.