Wiley M. Futrell, Claesgens, Mark A. | 4/19/2005 10:28:35 PM
Class 8 of the LSU AgCenter Agricultural Leadership Development program completed its two-year course of study with graduation February 13. Thirty leaders in agriculture and ag-related fields from around the state were awarded diplomas and leadership pins by top AgCenter administrators.
The Ag Leadership program prepares men and women who are established in their communities and dedicated to the ag industry to take leadership roles on issues that affect Louisiana agriculture at local, national and global levels, according to program director Dr. Mike Futrell.
In opening remarks, LSU AgCenter Chancellor William Richardson told the group that the leadership development program is one of the most exceptional AgCenter projects. He explained that the program helps participants understand what agriculture is doing worldwide, since, "We certainly live these days in a village that’s much broader than the state of Louisiana and the United States."
The chancellor admonished the class to go back to their communities and become involved with organizations, whether church, social or agricultural.
"We don’t have an oversupply of leadership," Richardson said.
Class 4 alumnus Brian Breaux of Baton Rouge addressed the group from a graduate’s perspective. He gave the class a three-part charge.
First, he said graduation is not an end, but a beginning. "Accept leadership positions. In fact, seek them out." He told the class the program has given them the tools to become effective leaders. "My message to you is, don’t squander it."
Second, he told them to remain active with the alumni. This will help keep the program viable and available to future candidates.
Third, he said, "Don’t forget your friends." He advised the group not only to maintain contact with their classmates but to broaden their scope using the networking skills they learned in the past two years.
Offering the class response, Joey Olivier of Arnaudville said, "It is not until one has completed the Ag Leadership program that he or she can fully appreciate its value, importance and intentions."
Olivier explained what the class learned. "I think it’s safe to say that we now recognize that the economics of agriculture neither begin nor end at the local, state or national level, but are more global in dimension." He added, "We also recognize that production agriculture, forestry and fisheries are not separate, but make up one economic force in our state.
"We recognize that state and national policy developments are not the duty of others, but are our own responsibility.
"And, we recognize that the expansion of the agricultural industry and research in Louisiana can be achieved through our own collective efforts."
Assisting Chancellor Richardson to award the diplomas and leadership pins were Vice Chancellor and Extension Director Paul Coreil and Vice Chancellor and Experiment Station Director Bill Brown.
Class 8’s curriculum included classroom seminars on the LSU AgCenter campus, plus travel seminars to Washington, D.C., and the Chicago Board of Trade. In addition, members gained an international perspective from an intensive two-week tour of agriculture in Chile and Argentina.
On campus, the class received instruction from LSU AgCenter crop-specific experts and presentations by state leaders, including then-Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Blanco, Ag and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom, District 16 senator Jay Dardenne, former senate leader Randy Ewing and Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Joseph Savoie.
The Washington visit included visits with Louisiana congressmen David Vitter and Billy Tauzin and senators John Breaux and Mary Landrieu. Other Washington stops included briefings from the American Farm Bureau, the Canadian embassy and the European Union.
In Chicago, the class met with agricultural leaders who briefed the group on critical issues facing Louisiana and the nation.
In South America, class members visited with their counterparts in the fruit, row crop, forestry and livestock industries to compare notes about production methods, economics and trade issues.
Graduates and their home towns are: Gene M. Adolph, Napoleonville; Jesse Barr, Monroe; Lonnie Champagne, Broussard; Elliot Colvin, Rayville; Michael Danna, Baton Rouge; David Cupp, Natchitoches; Derek Dauzat, Marksville; John Degeyter, Lafayette; David Scott Fontenot Sr., Eunice; Mary Floyd, Marrero; Ricky Gonsoulin, New Iberia; Gary Gravois, Napoleonville; Kevin Harper, Winnsboro; Rustin Gilder, Crowley; Mark Major, Livonia; Shawn Mayeux, Moreauville; Kenneth Naquin, Youngsville; Daniel Naquin Jr., Thibodaux; Joey Olivier, Arnaudville; Randy Pellichino, Hammond; Carlos Polotzola, Melville; Kent Peltier, Ventress; Myra Rivet, Morganza; Dean Roberts, Iowa; Donald Schexnayder, Port Allen; Clay Roblin, Moreauville; Kenny Self, Batchelor; Ewell Smith, New Orleans; Shaun Thornhill, Wisner; and Joel Taylor, Franklin.