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What is the purpose of the Agricultural Leadership Development Program?

In 1988, a need was seen to develop more leaders to address Louisiana agricultural issues. Dr. Robert Soileau, an LSU AgCenter professor, was asked to develop a curriculum and direct a program to accomplish three goals:

  • Develop leaders who understand and prepare for global influences and opportunities.
  • Develop leadership skills and awareness in participants so they become confident, effective communicators.
  • Develop participant understanding and involvement in the social, economic and political systems to improve their enterprises and communities.

These goals remain the basis for the program.

How long is each class?

Each class lasts for two years, beginning in January of odd-numbered years. During this time, class members attend seven three-day seminars in various locations throughout the state (January, February, October and December the first year; January, February and October the second year). The other three seminars are study tours – an agricultural tour within the continental United States (June of year one) a tour to Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg (June of year two), and an international tour (January following year two). Previous classes have traveled to Africa, Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America.

How much does the class cost?

Tuition is $2,250. Participants are responsible for their transportation to and from the seminars in addition to some meals during the seminars and on a portion of the trips. The Ag Leadership Program pays for hotel lodging (double occupancy) during the seminars. In addition, breakfast and lunch are covered while the seminar is in session.

During the national trips, the program pays for transportation and lodging. On the international study tour, the program pays for transportation, lodging and many meals.

Who pays the expenses above tuition?

The LSU AgCenter pays the salaries of the director and the program specialist. Costs incurred for the class are paid by earnings from endowments and annual contributions.

The Chalkley Chair, established by the Chalkley family of Lake Charles; The H. Rouse Caffey Endowment, established upon the retirement of for LSU AgCenter Chancellor H. Rouse Caffey; The Ag Leaders of Louisiana Endowment, established by alumni of the program; and the Robert R. Soileau Scholarship, established upon the retirement of and named for the first director of the program.

What do the classroom seminars cover?

Seminars are a combination of lecture and travel-oriented programs built around issues impacting Louisiana agriculture. These sessions expose participants to a wide range of speakers and ideas including experts in leadership, ethics, government, the environment, biotechnology, communication, commodities, economics, trade, government, and other areas. Each seminar includes a day of agricultural tours. Visits to farming operations or agricultural manufacturing or processing facilities.

What are the attendance requirements?

To be accepted into the program, participants must commit to attending every seminar. Permission for an absence is rare and only for emergencies. Unexcused absences and/or excessive excused absences jeopardize the class member’s continued participation in the program.

Who is accepted into the program?

First, participants must be working in some part of the agribusiness community in Louisiana. This may include farming, livestock, forestry, nurseries, aquaculture and commercial fisheries. In addition, classes may include individuals working in allied industries such as farm equipment sales, seed and fertilizer sales, agricultural consulting, commodity sales, banking, media and agricultural law.

Participants should be committed to learning about and engaging in the issues facing their industries and their communities. While there are no age limitations, it is hoped the participants will be old enough and will have enough world experience to get the full benefit of the program yet be young enough to use what they learn for many years.

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