The 2009 Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) training program for incoming wheat association leaders was held this week in St. Louis.
The six-day program is a function of the NAWG Foundation and is organized and generously sponsored by Monsanto, with many activities taking place near Monsanto’s headquarters.
Speakers went in-depth on a range of topics in which future wheat leaders should be especially interested – critical issues facing the agriculture industry, the policy process, leadership styles and techniques, new forms of communication on the Internet, and how to work effectively with media in interviews and other interactions.
Participants also heard from members of the Monsanto wheat team about the company’s work in wheat research and toured Monsanto’s facilities.
During the sessions, each grower was charged with finding a handful of ways he or she can reach out to the media and public or work more effectively in their wheat organization. Ideas included leaving comments on news stories, joining Twitter or writing an op-ed.
Growers participating included Brian Eggebrecht of Malta, Mont.; Clark Kauffman of Filer, Idaho; Ryan McCormick of Kremlin, Mont.; Ron Perry of Wendell, N.C.; Hope Pjesky of Goltry, Okla.; Tyson Raymond of Helix, Ore.; Brad Thykeson of Portland, N.D.; Randy Traxler of Otis, Colo.; and Russell Walker of Throckmorton, Texas.
NAWG representatives at WILOT included President Karl Scronce of Klamath Falls, Ore.; Melissa George Kessler, NAWG’s director of communications, who spoke about the wheat industry’s structure and communications coalitions; and Cori Wittman, NAWG’s director of government affairs for farm policy, who talked about the lobbying process.
While in St. Louis, Scronce and Wittman also represented NAWG at the Monsanto Grower Advisory Committee (GAC) meeting that overlapped with WILOT.
The GAC brings together leaders from commodity groups and Monsanto at least once a year to discuss common issues and new opportunities facing the industry.
ome topics discussed at this week’s meeting included the economic situation and how that affects commodity production; the latest in U.S. crop protection options; alliances on the issue of sustainable agriculture; and how the ag community can reach and build trust with the public.