July 29, 2009

The Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program is accepting nominations for its ninth class, which is scheduled to begin in January.

The 18-month program focuses on fine-tuning the leadership skills of 20 active farmers or agribusiness professionals. It is funded by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, farm organizations, agribusinesses, alumni and program participants.

"This program is tailored to young professionals who want to be on the cutting edge of decisions that will affect agriculture and rural communities in the 21st century," said Will Snell, co-director of the program and extension professor in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "Those who complete this program develop the ability to accept leadership responsibility in society."

The program consists of 10 study seminars at locations across Kentucky. Each seminar lasts about three days, including travel. Class members will also participate in a five-day study tour of the federal policy process and agencies in Washington, D.C.  In addition, participants will take a 10-to12-day international study tour to a major agriculture-producing region. Past classes visited Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. An additional five- to seven-day tour of agriculture in another state is also a possibility, budget permitting.

"This program is not just about farming," said Steve Isaacs, program co-director and UK extension professor. "In this program, participants will polish essential leadership skills, identify common rural and urban concerns, understand current public policy issues, and establish a basis for lifelong learning and development."

County extension agents, farm organizations, trade associations and alumni of the program are encouraged to nominate qualified individuals. Interested persons may self-nominate. Candidates should demonstrate a commitment to agriculture, agribusiness learning and development of leadership qualities. Since this is an intensive leadership program and requires numerous days of travel, those selected must provide a statement from their spouse and/or business partners providing evidence of their interest and support. When appropriate, participants must obtain consent to participate from their employers.

 Nominations are due Sept. 1. All nominees will receive applications, which are due by Oct. 15. Those selected for potential participation will undergo a personal interview as part of the final selection process. Class participants will be selected by Dec. 1.

To ensure diversity in the class, usually no more than one person from a single entity and no more than one applicant per family is selected. At least five tobacco-dependent participants are required for each class.

Selected individuals are required to attend all seminars. Each class member will receive a scholarship valued at $28,000, which covers lodging, meals, seminar expenses and travel for the national and international study tours. Participants are responsible for any incidental expenses and for travel to and from seminar sites and airports. Those selected will exhibit their commitment to participate and pay $2,000 each in two $1,000 installments over a two-year period to partially defray program expenses. Scholarships are available.

Nomination forms and other information can be found online at http://www.uky.edu/Ag/KALP/. For more information, contact the local county extension office or call 859-257-7292.

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