DANVILLE, Ind. — The 16th class now is being formed for the Agricultural Leadership Program of AgrIInstitute. The program is offered for those interested in enhancing leadership skills and gaining perspective of the agricultural industry.

“It’s a two-year leadership development program for adults involved in some aspect of the ag industry,” said Beth Archer, executive director of AgrIInstitute. “We study a variety of different subject matters and spend a lot of time learning to understand various public policy issues that impact ag.”

Participants have the opportunity to travel across the U.S. and the globe during the 12 seminars that comprise the program. Ten seminars will be located in Indiana, one in Washington, D.C., and one in a study-abroad destination unique to each class.

“The primary goal of our week in D.C. is to better understand how federal policy issues work, decision-making and who is involved,” Archer explained. “We learn what organizations are involved in making and influencing decisions that impact agriculture.”

During the two-week international study, students will travel to a country to study foreign policies, agriculture and culture.

The current class will travel to Brussels, Amsterdam and Liberia in February. Past countries that have been visited include France, Taiwan, Vietnam, Israel and Chile.

“During our foreign studies seminar, we focus on learning as much as we can about the ag system in that country, as well as sales and marketing and distribution systems,” Archer said. “We look at what the ag industry looks like in terms of crops and various production practices.”

Archer said that they also take in cultural sights and experiences while traveling. She hopes students leave with a better sense of economical, cultural and political perspective of that country.

“I think the thing that is most valuable about this program is that every class gets exposed to a broad range of subject matter,” she said. “There’s opportunity to learn and enhance leadership skills so they can be more effective in roles.

“They are in a class of 30 that has a diversity of age and backgrounds, so they can learn from each other. The educational base is strong but, networking opportunities are also incredibly valuable.”

AgrIInstitute invests around $15,000 in each person who participates. Thanks to help from sponsors and partners, each student pays $5,000 total, covering lodging, meals, airfare and most expenses.

“We’re a nonprofit organization funded solely from the ag industry and all of our allied partners,” Archer stressed. “Our purpose is to build the leadership capacities of the industry. We work on the people side of the business.”

Recently, AgrIInstitute elected its new leadership team. Janelle Deatsman, communications manager for Maple Leaf Farms, was elected chairperson of the board of directors.

“The Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program is the cornerstone of our organization,” she said. “Although we offer other programs and events to engage those involved in agricultural industries and promote leadership development, the ALP class that we offer every two years is what our organization is best known for and something that we proudly work to foster for future generations of agricultural leaders in Indiana.”

Deatsman said she has heard positive feedback from many who have completed the program.

“I recently had the pleasure of reading some testimonials from past participants in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program and was blown away by the great things they had to say,” she said. “Some participants credited the program with providing the tools and knowledge they needed to affect change in their local communities.

“Others recognized the program for expanding their worldview on a myriad of topics. It was evident that each person had benefited from their ALP experience in significant, but different ways.”

Deatsman grew up on a small purebred cattle farm in Kosciusko County. She studied animal sciences and agricultural communications at Purdue University. Upon graduation, she began working at Maple Leaf Farms and in 2010 completed the leadership program herself.

Other new officials include Vice Chairperson Eric Schilling of Elanco Animal Health, Secretary Bob Fulling of Rabo Agrifinance and Treasurer Dan Arnholt of Sudan Farms.

“I can’t say enough about the leadership that our board provides this organization,” Archer said. “The leadership of our board gives direction to our organization. They are basically responsible to make sure our organization is viable for the industry, that we’re doing the right kind of things in terms of funding. They are incredibly strong advocates for the program.”

The deadline for applications is Jan. 10. Candidates will be selected in February and begin the program in July.

Those interested in applying should contact AgrIInstitute at (317) 745-0947 or beth@agriinstitute.org.