November 21, 2008

People say the late Larry W. Turner, former associate dean for extension in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and director of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, had a heart for leadership development.  That's why, after his untimely death in the crash of Comair Flight 5191, his family knew they wanted to honor his memory in a special way. 

The Turner Leadership Academy was created for undergraduates in the UK College of Agriculture to enhance their leadership skills and receive a certificate in leadership while earning their degree. Sixteen students began their journey this fall as the first TLA class.

"Our goal is that the students will find it such a rewarding experience, that it will be one of the first things they put on their resumes," said Turner's widow, Lois Turner.  "Our hope is that employers in the future will look for students in the Turner Leadership Academy."

The TLA is supported by the Larry W. Turner Memorial Fund and housed in the Center for Leadership Development in the UK College of Agriculture's Department of Community and Leadership Development. The mission of the center is to build leadership capacity in Kentucky through research, educational opportunities, networks of leadership partners, services and leadership resources.

"Increasingly, employers are looking for students who have had leadership opportunities and developed a self-awareness and ability to work with people in teams and in groups," said Tricia Dyk, director of the center.  "A good place to start is with the leadership capacity of undergraduate students."

The TLA provides each student with a mentor who guides them towards the completion of a leadership development plan and a leadership portfolio.  As part of the application process, each student had to write a personal leadership statement.

Nicholas Mancuso, a sophomore agricultural biotechnology major, was one of the students selected to the inaugural class.

"In the Turner Leadership Academy, I will develop my personal leadership skills while building relationships with others," Mancuso wrote in his statement.  "I will learn to speak to groups and others, and I will become more involved on campus, and the community, while learning about diversity."

"By exhibiting perseverance while keeping an open mind to learning new things, I will achieve my goal of trying to obtain outstanding leadership skills," wrote sophomore Joy Priest, another agricultural biotechnology major and TLA participant. "That will allow me to establish a common leadership role in my community, while giving back to the community."

The first class of TLA participants and their mentors were introduced at a reception this fall on campus.  Lissa Pohl, a program and outreach associate in the center, is leading the TLA.  She is enthusiastic about the first crop of TLA participants.

"We've got a great group here," Pohl said.  "And we are really looking forward to getting to know them and excited to have them here and getting started."

For more information about the TLA visit

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