Joy McClain, a writer who does special stories for Indiana Prairie Farmer, is having no trouble finding plenty of stories about young people coming back to the farm. Many of them are getting some form of formal education, ether two years or four years, before returning home. During that time away from the farm, they're often exposed to not only information they can bring home to help their farm stay on the cutting edge, but they also gain leadership abilities which will help them be leaders in their industry in local and state ag organizations in the future.
Other existing groups also seem to be focusing on leadership for agriculture in the long term. Here's a run-down of various ag leadership efforts that should produce sound leaders for Indiana agriculture.
Purdue Extension- An entire initiative in the proposed 5-year strategic plan for Purdue University Extension deals with leadership promotion. The draft proposes forming a Leadership Training Team at the state level that will compile and assess current leadership resource materials and develop and deliver educational programs in leadership. The plan also calls for developing a leadership Website and working with other groups on this topic. It's not the first time Purdue Extension ahs emphasized leadership. Some two decades ago, leadership groups of 20 to 30 people were formed as mini-leadership classes, usually consisting of a few meetings, training sessions, and activities. Janet Ayres of Purdue was heavily involved in developing materials for that program.
Indiana FFA under new direction- Steve Hickey is the new director of the Indiana FF Association, and he's now housed under the Indiana Department of Agriculture, instead of under the Department of Education. However, his position is still funded with federal dollars. He's supposed to be getting an assistant son, who will also be part of ISDA. In addition, a new person is in the slot that works with the Indiana FFA State officers, and a new person will soon be hired to work with the Indiana FFA Foundation and fundraising.
Indiana Leadership Institute- This program, active since the 1980s, has turned out leaders who occupy a number of positions in Indiana agriculture. Don Villwock, president of Indiana Farm Bureau Inc., is an example. Each program lasts two years, involved travel to both Washington DC and overseas. Each class consists of 30 to 35 members. Some are bankers and businessmen. Not all have strong ties to agriculture.
Indiana Young Farmers Association- This position also was transferred to ISDA, and is under Hickey's direction. Revamped to accommodate aging members and attract newer members, membership is once-again growing.
Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmers- Active in many counties, these groups both socialize and hold educational meetings. The framework includes officers and directors. Their state convention presents great leadership development activities.