(03/03/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU AgCenter’s Agricultural Leadership Development Program held its graduation for Class 16 recently. Twenty-five leaders in agriculture production and ag-related industries from around the state were awarded diplomas and leadership pins in Baton Rouge on Feb. 29.
“This is an outstanding group of agricultural leaders,” said program director Bobby Soileau, “The knowledge and skills they have attained will make them more effective leaders in the future.”
For more than three decades, the Ag Leadership program has been the premier program for men and women who are established in their communities and dedicated to enhancing Louisiana agriculture. The graduates go on to take leadership roles on issues that affect Louisiana agriculture at local, national and global levels.
Neil Melancon, assistant director of communications for Louisiana Farm Bureau, served as the master of ceremonies and is a graduate of Class 12. Lance Bruce, a Class 14 alumnus, addressed the group from a graduate’s perspective. Bruce, who is a banker and beef cattle producer from Morehouse Parish, serves as the vice president of the Ag Leaders of Louisiana, the alumni association for the program.
Offering the Class 16 response was Zach Hamilton, who works for First South Farm Credit. He shared many of his fellow class member perspectives of the program and his own personal experience.
The two-year curriculum included classroom seminars in locations throughout the state, plus travel seminars to Washington, D.C., California and an intensive two-week tour of agriculture in Japan and Thailand. The program is privately funded through endowments and individual contributions.
Graduates of Class 16 and their hometowns are: Micah Barham, Oak Ridge; Brooks Blanche, St. Joseph; Adam Caughern, Gilliam; Ashley Dupree, Baton Rouge; Atticus Finger, Houma; Kyle Fontenot, Ville Platte; Ryan Frey, Morganza; John Frierson, Shreveport; Lisa Gillespie, Amite; Eli Graham, Ventress; Craig Guidry,Shreveport; Zach Hamilton, Kinder; Alan Haynes, Bastrop; Heath Herring, St. Joseph; Jacob Holloway, Harrisonburg; Ben LeBlanc, Thibodaux; Julie Lively, Baton Rouge; Allen McLain, Jr., Abbeville; Nathan Morrow, Lake Charles; Steven Pylant, Crowville; Katie Schroeder, Delhi; Daniel Stephenson, Alexandria; Philip Thomlinson, Lake Providence; Karl Wiggers, Baton Rouge; and Trey Wiggers, Winnsboro.
The LSU Ag Leadership Class 16 and guests pose in front of the Zojo-ji Temple in Tokyo. Pictured behind the temple is Tokyo Tower, the highest free-standing broadcast tower in the world. Photo by Neil Melancon
Zach Hamilton, of Kinder, speaks during a final meeting of the LSU Ag Leadership Class 16. Photo by Monica Velasquez