(Posted Wed. Sep 28th, 2011)

Jerry LarsonSept. 28: As the fiscal year comes to an end, the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board gets ready to seat new members and officers on October 1. At this time, three current Corn Board members will retire from the board: Daryl Haack, Jerry Larson and Dave Nelson. The Off the Cob podcast series caught up with each retiring Corn Board member to discuss what each learned and experienced through service and to ask for any advice that might benefit farmers considering stepping up to a leadership role.


Off the Cob spoke with Jerry Larson, a farmer from Elbow Lake, Minn. During his tenure, Larson chaired NCGA’s Finance Committee and served on the Association Relations Committee, Ethanol Committee and Research and Business Development Action Team.


Larson initially entered service at the national level through involvement with NCGA’s action teams and committees, but this taste of leadership drew him into a deeper, and more rewarding, experience on the board.


“I started a decade ago serving on a few action teams at first and then I transitioned onto the Corn Board, which has been a very good experience,” said Larson. “Through my service, I have had an opportunity take an in-depth look at a broad variety of issues and meet a range of people who have been very successful in their respective fields.”


Looking at the organization as a whole, Larson notes the many strengths that allow NCGA to maintain strong support among states and growers alike.


“As I reflect on my experiences, I think that NCGA can be proud of its strong operating procedures,” he explained. “The consistently high standards the association maintains lead directly to the confidence of the states in the national organization. Having served as chair of the Finance Committee, I am particularly proud that NCGA has a balanced budget and the strong support of the state associations.”


Larson advises growers to remain aware of the broader picture in federal government and how its transitory nature affects farmers.


“In one word, I would say that as a Corn Board member you have to be nimble,” he said. “Politics in Washington are constantly evolving and the landscape shifts continually. With so many of the regulations and policies impacting our growers coming from the top down, it is imperative that an effective leader is able to quickly assess changes in the overall situation and assimilate this new view into their overall perspective.”


He also stresses that potential leaders must understand the value of relaying information to the many stakeholders affected by NCGA.


“It is also important that board members value communications in all of its varied forms,” said Larson. “It is of the utmost importance that we communicate our message back home, be it state-by-state, farmer-to-farmer, or even to the general public. Maintaining buy-in requires open, efficient communications.”


To listen to this interview in its entirety, please click here.