(Posted Mon. Aug 8th, 2011)

Leader trainingAug. 8: Because it is a grassroots-driven organization with growers comprising the board of directors and the larger body of policy delegates, the National Corn Growers Association offers a pair of programs aimed at helping members become leaders, passing along important skills in the area of communications, parliamentary procedure, public policy and even professional etiquette.


“Building a strong grassroots leadership is an important part of growing a respected and professional association,” NCGA President Bart Schott said. “Our grower leaders serve a great role as industry spokespersons and valuable thought-leaders, and we give them the opportunity to learn leadership and practice what they learned in several important ways.”


Last week in Minneapolis, 18 growers and a guest from South Africa came together for the first part of NCGA’s annual Leadership Academy, co-sponsored by Syngenta as part of its bigger Leadership At Its Best program. These growers will travel to Washington in January for the second part of the program, where the focus is on public policy and lobbying. More than 500 men and women have graduated from this program in the past 25 years.


The Leadership Academy targets up and coming leadership at NCGA’s state affiliates, or growers who become involved in one of the association’s action teams or committees. Last year, NCGA began a more advanced leadership program, also co-sponsored by Syngenta, that puts a much smaller group through a more rigorous program that goes deeper and provides for more personal attention. The 2010 program had six participants; for 2011, another six will take part in sessions that start in September in North Carolina and conclude in March 2012 in Washington. Ideal candidates for the advanced program are growers who can take what they have learned in the program and return to their state organization or national position to be transformational leaders for those around them.


Just as NCGA offers leadership training, it also offers leadership opportunities. Its action teams and committees are composed of grower-volunteers selected in September by the incoming president, and NCGA is now accepting applications for its teams for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The application deadline is Sept. 1. Likewise, state associations determine up to 127 delegates that meet twice each year at Corn Congress to set NCGA policy and elect board members. Nominations for the Corn Board itself are sought each year, starting in October, and are open to NCGA grower-members.


“Programs like Syngenta’s ‘Leadership At Its Best’ give our members the opportunity to become effective and insightful leaders in their communities, their states and their industry at the national level,” Schott added. “As someone who has been through the training, I encourage all those who can, to get involved and help us make a difference.”


Pictured: media training before a video camera is a valuable part of Leadership Academy.