LEAD program training tomorrow's agricultural leadership

Thursday, March 31, 2016

It's not what you know, it's who.

Actually, it's both, and a program that has been helping future agricultural leaders in both areas is looking for its 36th class.

Terry Hejny, director of the LEAD Program and an alumnus of LEAD 20, was in McCook today looking for "thirty highly motivated Nebraskans involved in agriculture who want to develop their leadership skills."

The two-year program includes 12 three-day theme-driven seminars monthly from mid-September through early April, visiting almost every public and private college and university in the state.

The first year focus is on local, state and national issues with a 10-day national study / travel seminar in February.

The second year focus is on the international community and includes a 14- to 16-day international study/travel seminar. That destination will be announced soon, Hejny said.

Besides being highly motivated, participants must be between 25 and 55 with demonstrated leadership potential, selected each year from five geographic regions across the state.

They must have been a Nebraska resident for three years, and must be involved in farming, ranching or agribusiness and complete a written application and interview with a screening committee.

LEAD participants we've talked to are enthusiastic about the program, confirming its success in helping them meet its stated outcomes:

* Self-confidence and a positive can-do attitude.

* Problem-solving and decision-making skills.

* Public speaking skills and a belief that they can make a difference.

* New contacts and networking.

* A broader view and understanding of "the bigger picture"

* Opportunities to seek out new role models and learn about different leadership styles

* Skills in proper etiquette

The Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council founded the Nebraska LEAD program in 1981 in cooperation with Agricultural Builders of Nebraska Inc. and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Participants are expected to attend all seminars, secure the full support of spouse and employer, possess a sincere commitment to self-improvement, maintain an open mind and interest, and pay a modest annual participant fee.

Hejny urges potential applicants to take the leap now.

"Many times I have seen people wait until their lives appear to slow down before contacting us," he said. "Waiting sometimes means they no longer fall into our preferred range of 25-55 years of age."

"Now is the time to begin those discussions with your families and business associates about participating in the LEAD program and make a plan of how you will handle your time away from home and work."

If all systems are go, contact Lauren at lszalkiewicz2@unl.edu and request an application by June 15, 2016. Or, call (402) 472-6810 or visit www.lead.unl.edu for more information.

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