By Trisha Gedon

Oklahoma State University communications specialist

Oklahoma

Oklahoma men and women who have a desire to become leaders in the agricultural industry need to consider applying for the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program.

OALP is an intensive two-year program at Oklahoma State University that is geared toward the development of leaders in the agriculture and agribusiness world, said Joe Williams, OALP director.

"As the world of agriculture continues to grow, members of Class XII will be exposed to the cutting edge of changes in agriculture, agribusiness and the total economic and political environment," Williams said. "Agriculture is continually changing over time, and in order to broaden and improve agricultural leadership, we must look and think outside of the traditional framework. By becoming involved in OALP, participants will be better prepared and more able to meet the changes in this ever-changing industry. Our goal is to develop well-rounded people who are skilled in communications, educated in national and world affairs, familiar with the changing needs of society and prepared to lead the agricultural sector of Oklahoma into the challenges of tomorrow."

Participants in Class VII will be involved in seminars at the state, regional and national levels. The end of the two-year program will culminate with a trip abroad to learn more about global agriculture. Class XI recently returned from an 11-day excursion to Germany, Holland and Poland.

"Our trip abroad was an excellent experience," he said. "We visited farms, agribusiness firms and U.S. embassies, as well as numerous tourist sites. We had the opportunity to interact with farmers, agribusiness people and government officials in host countries."

Applications for OALP's Class XII will be available online April 1 at http://oklahomaagleadership.org/. Applications also are available at each Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service county office. The deadline to submit applications and letters of reference is May 21. The class is limited to 30 participants, ideally between the ages of 25 and 45. Applicants must be actively engaged in production agriculture or in a related agribusiness occupation.

OALP has three basic objectives. To start with, the program is designed to help potential leaders develop a deeper and fuller appreciation of people. Many members of past OALP classes began the program with some leadership skills and a basic understanding of people in their home communities and Oklahoma agriculture. OALP participation will help members gain an even broader understanding and appreciation of people throughout the country and throughout the world.

The second objective of the program is designed to help potential leaders develop a better understanding of basic systems of economics and government. Many of the opportunities and problems facing agriculture today are economic in nature. In addition, many of the solutions to economic problems and economic opportunities exist beyond the borders of Oklahoma and beyond the boundaries of the United States.

"Governments, both here and abroad, have obvious impacts on agriculture," Williams said. "Likewise, governments hold some of the keys to agricultural problems of today and agricultural opportunities of tomorrow."

The third objective is to help OALP participants utilize their understanding of people and their knowledge of systems of economics and government to solve problems and exploit opportunities for the state's agricultural industry.

Williams said it is imperative that class members recognize that solutions to agricultural-related problems are possible only if those solutions are consistent with the values and welfare of people outside of the industry as well.

"Agriculture is much more likely to solve its problems and come up with alternatives with leaders who understand our own and other systems of economics and government," he said. "Understanding is necessary, but there must be action and effective leaders in place who can motive others to act."

OALP began in 1982 through the joint efforts of the division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at OSU and a state leadership advisory council comprised of recognized agricultural leaders in Oklahoma. A grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation helped fund this program.

For more information about the OALP, please contact Williams at 405-744-5132.

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