The Rice Leadership Development Program’s Class of 2017/19 graduated from the prestigious program during a special ceremony at the USA Rice 2019 Government Affairs Conference this week. Rice Foundation Chairman Frank Carey and USA Rice Chairman Charley Mathews, Jr. presided over the ceremony, congratulating the graduates and thanking program sponsors, John Deere, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company.
The class is made up of Scott Franklin, Rayville, LA; Kim Gallagher, Davis, CA; Jarrod Hardke, Hazen, AR; Alan Lawson, Crowley, LA; David Martin, Bernie, MO; and Ross Thibodeaux, Midland, LA.
Scott Franklin served as class spokesperson. He expressed his appreciation to the many people the class met who “made a wise investment in some outstanding young people, who are passionate about our industry.”
Franklin concluded his commencement speech with a rallying cry to his fellow classmates saying, “It is our duty to continue the fight in delivering our wonderful product to the masses around the world. We can never become complacent, as the international rice trade can be an unfair marketplace to our farmers.
“The rice export business is an everyday job, a job where everyone in the industry plays a vital role. We promise that our class will fight, in any way we can, to make certain that U.S. rice is at the forefront of the minds of all our government officials. We won’t wait until trade is a good use of political capital. Every opportunity to export U.S. rice is a good use of our time and talents.”
The class was immediately put to work representing the rice industry during the conference, participating in multiple meetings with Members of Congress, staff from key Congressional Committees, and agency representatives.
Several agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosted informational sessions for the class, including the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Economic Research Service (ERS), and World Agricultural Outlook Board.
They also met with officials at CropLife America to discuss the responsible use of environmentally sound crop protection products, and got a tutorial in the pesticide registration process while visiting the Environmental Protection Agency.
While in Washington, the group also met Ambassador Fernando Llorca of the Costa Rican Embassy to discuss rice trade between the two countries as well as attend the USA Rice World Market Price Subcommittee meetings.
The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication training. During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen their leadership skills.
If you have interest in applying for the Rice Leadership Development Program, contact Steve Linscombe, director of The Rice Foundation.