David Heath of Bountiful Blessings Farm, Ft. Barnwell, NC participated in a leadership workshop hosted by Pioneer and the American Soybean Association. Heath explains the selection process:
Heath: It's about a two page application that I filled out. I was fortunate enough to get on the state soybean board this year and they had mentioned to me, the Executive Director Charles Hall had mentioned to me, about this program and that I might be a good candidate, so I applied. Usually, North Carolina has just one or two applicants, this year we had three and I was very thankful to be chosen out of the three to be able represent North Carolina, thankful that the other two had submitted applications too, because it shows there's tremendous interest by young people to learn more in agriculture in the southern area leadership, that was good also; thankful the board decided to send me and my wife…"
SFN: Ok, and then is it like a one year or two year program?
Heath: It's a one year program split over two sessions. Our first session, we went to Johnston, Iowa for about three to four days back in early December… spent a week get out their doing media training, doing training… More or less challenge us to get out there and tell our story; tell the story of agriculture and what we need to do to help the industry and challenge us and show us some of the things Pioneer is doing in tech. That's always good to get out there and see what the companies… see where the tech fees and everything that we're paying… where it's going back in and where they're making an investment in our future, in the lines that they're bringing out and stuff… So that was really good to see all that, too.
SFN: You will graduate from this program at the Commodity Classic in March…
Heath: Yes, me and my wife will be able to go out there to the Commodity Classic. They sent out an email this week saying, "…don't plan anything with your state associations we're going to be keeping you busy the entire time." So, it's intense training while we're there. It's a total about 7 days, total in the program, but they give lot of tips and training. You get to know a lot of great people from around the nation. There's one from Canada, as far out from Missouri… so I'm hoping that I can have another network of friends to be able to work with throughout the nation… call and ask questions to, maybe they can teach me howhttp://www.sfntoday.com/admin486wny758/audio/editText.aspx?audioID=7121 to grow some 90 bushel beans. We'll see what happens…
SFN: How many people from across the country are involved in this?
Heath: I think there's a total of about 21-22 couples representing the soybean states and everything. So, it's really good to get to know these folks, one from Canada, like I said… It gives you a different perspective, it's a whole lot different farming… The ones out in the mid-west, they were dealing with floods this year, we were dealing with drought. And it's good for the wives to get together and see "hey, I'm not the only one that's battling… the battles that we do…" It's good for the wives to get together, too, and I'm really thankful they include the spouses in this program. It makes a big difference.
SFN: Is there anything you'd like to add about that program?
Heath: Well, I think it's a wonderful opportunity. I thank ASA for their sponsorship of the program and hope for continued success in it… I encourage young people to go forward and apply for this in years to come and be able to come back and serve their states and the nation and the associations and be active in this.
Heath says the training he received in Iowa was more intense than his two yelearn more that was I was very to ar at Leadership program at NC State.