Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program Now Accepting Applications for Class XXTue, 25 Feb 2020 10:56:43 CST
Oklahoma residents who are involved in the agricultural industry and looking for a way to grow and enhance their agricultural knowledge and leadership skills can do that by applying to become a member of Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program’s Class XX.
For nearly 40 years, OALP has been one of the state’s top leadership programs for emerging agricultural leaders, with 502 people graduating from the program. Edmond Bonjour, OALP director, said he is looking forward to starting a new class.
“It’s always exciting to start a new OALP class. The new members are enthusiastic about agriculture and willing to step out of their comfort zone to expand their horizons in areas in which they aren’t familiar,” Bonjour said.
The OALP is composed of up to 30 professional people from across the state who are involved in production agriculture, agribusiness or some other agricultural business. Applicants must be at least 25 years old and are chosen for the program based on their potential to be important agricultural leaders in Oklahoma.
The 20-month program consists of 10 three-day seminars and study tours within Oklahoma, one three-day seminar in northern Oklahoma and Kansas, a seven- to eight-day seminar in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., and a two-week international experience near the end of the program. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays is traveling with the current OALP class in Chile through February 29th.
Seminars within the state are geared toward wind energy, dryland farming, animal processing and feedlots in northwest Oklahoma; cotton, irrigation and vegetable production in the southwest; fish farming, sod farms and both the poultry and forestry industries in the southeast part of the state; and soy beans, mushroom farming and water navigation systems in northeast Oklahoma.
While in Kansas, the group visits a John Deere training facility, flour mill, Cargill in Wichita and the oil refinery at Hutchinson.
“During our trip to Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., class members learn about how farming used to be done and how it’s still being done in Amish communities,” Bonjour said. “We also visit Hershey, Pennsylvania, and learn about all the different agricultural products that go into chocolate production. In Washington, D.C., we meet with our Oklahoma congressional delegation and various commodity groups.”
Applications are available at http://oalp.okstate.edu/ and are due, along with letters of recommendation, by May 1. Interviews will take place in June and the first seminar will be held in August. Graduation is slated in April 2022.
Bonjour said that while developing strong leaders is the overall objective of OALP, there are three specific program objectives.
“First, the program is designed to help class members develop a deeper and fuller appreciation and understanding of people,” he said. “The second objective is to help potential leaders gain a better understanding of basic systems of economics and government. And finally, the third objective is to help the class use the first two objectives to solve problems and discover opportunities for Oklahoma agriculture.”
Kristin Young, a member of OALP Class XIX, said she was eager to be a part of the program after hearing from her colleagues about the wonderful opportunities OALP had to offer.
“I was so excited to be selected for Class XIX and the program has certainly lived up to its distinguished reputation,” Young said. “One of the greatest aspects of the program was seeing how different producers devote their lives to serving a growing population and learning more about their profession – from the challenges they face to their greatest success.”
Young said she encourages anyone involved in the agriculture industry to consider applying for the program.
“The breadth of agriculture in Oklahoma is truly eye opening. You get a first-hand look at all the facets of agriculture, visit with producers and professionals from a variety of operations, and you gain lifelong friendships along the way.”
Bonjour said he is looking forward to receiving applications for OALP Class XX and assembling a diverse group of agricultural leaders for further leadership development.
“I’ve served as director of this program for 10 years and it has truly been an honor to work with all of the dynamic class members,” he said. “I’m looking forward to continuing this tradition
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