ASA’s Soybean Leadership College Rocks, Rolls in Memphis

Jan 10, 2013

More than 170 farmers and state soybean leaders gathered in Memphis this week for ASA’s 13th annual Soybean Leadership College. The event provided opportunities for future and current soybean industry grower-leaders and state staff to learn how to engage other soybean producers, consumers, legislators, government officials and media, and more effectively tell the story of agriculture. Training focused on leadership, communications and the latest issues in the soybean industry.

The State Leaders Summit preceded Soybean Leadership College on Tuesday, and brought state association and Qualified State Soybean Board staff together with ASA and United Soybean Board (USB) leadership to discuss what issues will confront the industry in the coming months and years, and what issues are critical to each state. Facilitated by consultant and futurist Bob Treadway, the summit helped attendees look at what roadblocks and areas for success await the soybean industry.

ASA Board members Jeff Sollars (left) of Ohio and Ed Erickson, Jr. of North Dakota speak with young ag leaders from Indiana at the Soybean Leadership College in Memphis on Wednesday.

Also on Tuesday, Soybean Leadership College kicked off with a presentation on membership strategies from association consultant Mark Levin, followed by an inspirational general session from colorful radio personality and agriculture advocate Trent Loos on dealing with doubters and opponents of agriculture while advancing the dialogue on production agriculture. Tuesday night wrapped up with an evening of games, karaoke and wonderful Southern food at ASA’s second annual Sports and Entertainment Zone.

Wednesday morning brought a breakfast presentation by Nathan Ruby of the World Soy Foundation, followed by a breakdown in the morning general session of the economic climate and its effect on agriculture from Informa Economics Chairman and CEO Bruce Scherr. Following the general session, attendees could choose to attend any of three separate sessions, including: a crash course on viral and social media from Trent Loos; a tutorial on telling the story of the farmer, the state association and the national association from OrgStory’s Jim Schnurbusch; and a panel discussion on water issues and conservation featuring former USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White, ASA Executive Committee member Richard Wilkins, and Warren Formo, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center.

Following a lunchtime presentation on cooperation and synergy from USB Chairman Jim Stillman and a repeat of the morning’s educational session offerings, attendees heard from trainer Larry Johnson on embracing organizational change. Wrapping up the Wednesday agenda was a dinner tour of the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in downtown Memphis.


Former USDA-NRCS Chair Dave White addresses conservation issues at the Soybean Leadership College in Memphis on Wednesday. (ASA photo by Patrick Delaney)

On Thursday, attendees welcomed BASF Product Manager Matthew Keefer for breakfast before choosing between another three educational sessions. Association executive Gabriel Eckert spoke on leadership strategies, KGlobal’s Jenny Nuber and Jim Gwinner provided media training and new media tactics, and ASA CEO Steve Censky moderated a panel on sustainability that included ASA Vice President Mark Jackson, USB Director John Butler, ADM’s Erik Heggen and BASF’s Nick Fassler. To wrap up the day, agriculture advocates Troy and Stacy Hadrick challenged attendees to discover new ways to tell the story of agriculture and influence a larger dialogue on farm issues.

ASA thanks the sponsors of the 2013 Soybean Leadership College: Syngenta, BASF, Farm Credit, USB, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, Delaware Soybean Board, Illinois Soybean Board, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Iowa Soybean Association, Kansas Soybean Commission, Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board, Maryland Soybean Board, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, New York Soybean Board, North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, North Dakota

Soybean Council, Ohio Soybean Council, South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board, Virginia Soybean Board and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board.