Leadership At Its Best

Leadership At Its Best logo Syngenta small logo

Part I of the Leadership At Its Best (LAIB) program, co-sponsored by Syngenta and the American Soybean Association, was held Aug. 5-8, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minn. Fifteen soybean producers participated in the program. The program is designed for current State Board member and/or key committee members to support their agricultural organizations’ efforts to build for the future by helping to develop and train their leaders.

Participants in the LAIB program learn how to enhance their leadership skills to be strong spokespersons for the soybean industry. They learn how to address legislative issues, interact with the media, manage diverse communications styles, plan and strategize for the future and improve productivity.

This year’s class was assisted by ASA Chairman Steve Wellman, First Vice President Ray Gaesser, Executive Director Bill Schuermann and Project Coordinator Kathie Mullen.

Part II will be held in Washington, D.C. in March in conjunction with the ASA Board meeting. Participants will concentrate on the importance of communicating with members of Congress, parliamentary procedure and key legislative issues affecting U.S. soybean farmers. They will also meet with members of Congress from their respective states.

2014 Class
  • Barry Alexander  •  Cadiz, Ky.
  • Heather Feuerstein  •  Ionia, Mich.
  • Rusty Grills  •  Newbern, Tenn.
  • Mike Heffelfinger  •  Van Wert, Ohio
  • John Horter  •  Andover, S.D.
  • Kyle Jeschke  •  Highland, Kan.
  • Robert Johnston  •  Clearwater, Neb.
  • Josh Kirkpatrick  •  Veedersburg, Ind.
  • Don Lutz  •  Scandinavia, Wis.
  • Mike Marron  •  Fithian, Ill.
  • Michael McPherson  •  Mebane, N.C.
  • Craig Olson  •  Colfax, N.D.
  • Rolland Schnell  •  Newton, Iowa
  • Mike Skaug  •  Beltrami, Minn.
  • Aaron Thompson  •  Hartly, Del.
  • Matt Wright  •  Emden, Mo.
Leadership At Its Best class of 2014. (ASA photo by Kathie Mullen)

Leadership At Its Best class of 2014. (ASA photo by Kathie Mullen)

Through the years, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has developed and maintained a base of farmer leaders that effectively addresses national policy issues impacting soybean farming. Through ongoing training, a corps of state and national ASA leaders has evolved into an effective voice in Washington, D.C. in the interest of soybeans and U.S. agriculture.

The ASA leadership development program known as ASA/Syngenta Leadership At Its Best is the distinguished and specialized training curriculum that develops a key group of state and national leaders who can effectively address Congress and the media on policy issues impacting soybean farmers.

The ongoing benefits of leadership development are evidenced as state leaders utilize their training and their experiences to make a difference in American agriculture, while advancing into leadership positions on the national level. Celebrating its 22nd year partnering with ASA, over 100 state officers and directors have already graduated from this program.

“This program is a great way to sharpen your communications skills, focus your commitment to agriculture, and network with influential farmers from across the nation,” said 2012 graduate Tom Price. “The education I received not only helped me personally, but has given me some tools to give back something to a way of life that has provided me so much.”

“Syngenta has the opportunity through this program to strengthen the skills of these future leaders to become strong advocates for ASA and agriculture,” said Syngenta Head of Industry Relations Rex Martin.

The first phase of this program occurs in August in Greensboro, North Carolina and focuses on communications training with special emphasis on interpersonal skills, media training and public speaking. Second semester leadership training takes place during the ASA Board Meeting in March in Washington, D.C., and concentrates on legislative issues and agricultural concerns. Participants receive comprehensive training on communications with Congress, plus ASA policy briefings designed to fully prepare state leaders for Capitol Hill visits.