Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program now accepting applications

Oklahomans engaged in the agriculture industry who are looking to enhance their leadership skills have the opportunity to join a premier organization designed to do just that.

Edmond Bonjour, director of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program at Oklahoma State University, has announced applications are now available for OALP Class XIX, which begins in August.

“OALP is one of Oklahoma’s top leadership programs geared toward emerging leaders in the agriculture industry,” Bonjour said. “OALP has been helping Oklahomans develop their leadership skills for nearly four decades, and we continue to produce well-educated leaders for our state’s agriculture industry.”

Applications are now available for OALP Class XIX at oalp.okstate.edu. The deadline for submitting an application and letters of reference is May 1. Class size is limited to 30 participants ages 25 and up who are actively engaged in agriculture or a related agricultural business.

OALP has three main objectives. First, the program is designed to help potential leaders develop a deeper and fuller appreciation of people. While new members begin the program with some leadership skills, they complete the class with an even broader understanding and appreciation of people throughout the United States and the world.

“Our second objective 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,” he said. “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.”

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.

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 week-long seminar in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., and a two-week international experience near the end of the program. The first seminar for OALP Class XIX will take place in August 2018.

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 will visit the John Deere training facility, Cargill, Ardent Mills, McPherson Oil Refinery and American AgCredit.

“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. While in Washington, D.C., we meet with our state congressional delegation and various commodity groups.”

Throughout the entire program, class members will have the opportunity to interact with knowledgeable individuals who fill prominent leadership roles at the local, state, regional, national and international levels.

OALP Class XVIII recently returned from a two-week trip to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.

Craig Woods, a member of Class XVIII, said he enjoyed his experiences and learned a lot through his participation in OALP.

“The participants of Class XVIII of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program got to see the people, places and businesses that make agriculture work, as well as learn about many of the issues they are facing,” Wood said. “The knowledge we gained will have tremendous impact on my life and career moving forward.”

Bonjour said the goal of the international trip is to put together a good agricultural experience and visit other countries to gain a better understanding of agricultural practices around the world.

For more information about OALP, please call Bonjour at 405-744-8134, email at [email protected] or visit the OALP website at oalp.okstate.edu.

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