May 20, 2014

In this issue:
Next leadership class to include another Purdue dreamer
Leadership opportunities abound for College of Agriculture personnel

Next leadership class to include
another Purdue dreamer

Jennifer Stewart-Burton in Honduras
Photo by Jeremy Byrd

In March, Jennifer Stewart traveled to Honduras, where she helped install a well that brought fresh water to a small village. She plans on returning for a similar project early next year.

By Jennifer Stewart

Some people dream about making a difference in the world. Some dream about traveling to distant lands. I dream of both, which is partly why, for the last two and a half years, I’ve dreamed of being selected to participate in AgrIInstitute’s Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP).

Danica Kirkpatrick is a friend and colleague within the College of Agriculture. Her ALP nomination, application and acceptance were my first exposure to the program, but watching her journey made me long to walk the same path.

The dream became more vivid as I learned about the program’s professional development opportunities and service orientation. I also found out that many of my role models from all facets of the agricultural industry were ALP graduates. The program seemed so pivotal to helping me become the professional I hope to be in an industry for which I have a deep-seated passion.

As the daughter of farmers, agriculture is so much more than my professional focus — it’s a way of life. I saw many springs from the cab of a tractor, summers from the barn lot washing 4-H steers and fall harvests from the passenger seat of the combine.

Growing up to earn a living as an agricultural editor and writer is a path better and more meaningful than I ever imagined. That’s why the desire to participate in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program gripped me so tightly. Being the best professional I can be for the agricultural industry is personal.

I had been through the rigorous application process, including an essay, supervisor and spouse support documents, recommendation letters, and a 90-minute interview. I left the interview hopeful and feeling like it had gone well, but the 10-day wait to find out whether I’d been accepted was grueling. When I finally opened my mailbox and saw the letter with AgrIInstitite emblazoned in green across the top left corner, my heart skipped a beat.

I took a deep breath, then I ripped open that envelope faster than I’ve ever opened a piece of mail in my life. There it was, in bold, black letters: “CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected to participate in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP) Class 16.”

It was an exhilarating moment, finding out I’d get to live out a goal that once seemed like such a far-off dream. And if it weren’t for the Purdue College of Agriculture’s dedication to developing leaders, this is one dream I’m not sure I’d have been able to achieve. I’ll forever be indebted to the college and Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, for this opportunity.

Since the day my acceptance letter arrived, I’ve had time to dream about the journey ahead. I’m not sure I can quantify the eager anticipation I feel about the things our class will experience and learn, the people we will meet and the places we will go.

Coming Thursday:

Our centennial celebration of the Cooperative Extension Service continues with a look back at the first 100 years of Extension.  Extension specialist and historian Fred Whitford will reflect on the path Extension has taken during the past 100 years.

In the next two years, we will be challenged and enriched in ways we can’t yet fathom. Along the way, we will see parts of Indiana, agriculture and rural life that will open our eyes to whole new worlds. We will have the opportunity to spend a week in Washington, D.C., learning about our nation’s political process and agricultural policies. And in February 2016, we will spend two weeks traveling abroad to learn about agriculture, policy and culture in other nations. Thinking about it takes my breath away.

So here I am, waiting with bated breath for the first seminar, which begins in July. I can hardly stand to wait for that day, when I get to walk in and find out who my ALP family will be for the next two years and for the rest of my life.

Stewart is a writer/editor in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural Communication, where she produces Ag Answers, a website for production agriculture.

Related article:  Growing leadership skills at home and abroad

Leadership opportunities abound in
College of Agriculture

By Tom Campbell

The Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP) was established in 1982 as a leadership training and skill development program for young farmers. It is one of about 35 similar ag leadership programs across the United States and one of many programs the College of Agriculture uses to build leadership capabilities, critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities among its faculty, staff and students.  

"The idea of leadership runs through all we do in the College of Agriculture," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. "The first stated goal in our strategic plan is to lead in framing issues, solving problems and delivering timely solutions that impact important challenges in our state, nation and world. To that end, we encourage our faculty, staff and students to take on leadership roles in the university, local, national and even global arenas. And we work to help build leadership capabilities in our faculty, staff and students in a variety of ways.”

A partial list of those programs are found at:

“We promote leadership-development opportunities both on and off campus for our faculty and staff,” Akridge said. “In addition, the college is helping prepare the next generation of leaders through opportunities like the Leadership Development Certificate Program, which provides our students with experience and growth in leadership, and the Learning from Leaders Program, which brings to campus the best and brightest stars of agriculture to expose our students to those who have made their mark in their profession and industry.”

ALP participants pay a $5,000 tuition fee for the two-year, 12-class curriculum.

“We ask that applicants have a vested interest in Indiana agriculture, natural resources or the environment,” said Beth Archer, executive director of AgrIInstitute. “We have had a strong relationship with every dean of the College of Agriculture going back to Bob Thompson (who served as dean from 1987 to 1993). Our relationship with the college is a very important partnership as we strengthen the leadership capacity of agriculture here in Indiana and beyond.”  



ConnectionsNOW! provides the latest news for students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of Purdue Agriculture. Find out more -->