Wyoming LEAD Program accepting applications for next class
The Wyoming L.E.A.D. (Wyoming Leadership Education and Development) Program is a 14-month, adult leadership initiative designed to create an outstanding, highly motivated agricultural leaders in Wyoming.
Wyoming Business Council Agribusiness Director Cindy Garretson-Weibel explained that the L.E.A.D. program was started in 1984 by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish a rural leadership program. The University of Wyoming was in charge of it until 1998, when the Wyoming Business Council and the Wyoming Agricultural Leadership Council partnered on continuing the program.
Twelve to 18 participants are selected based on an application and interview process, and the program is currently accepting applications for its 12th class until Aug. 31. Interviews are slated for September and applicants will be notified in October if they have been accepted into the program, prior to its start in November of this year. Selected applicants will be required to pay a tuition fee to participate in the program.
“The minimum age requirement for participants is 25, with no upper age limit. This is designed to be a post-college opportunity for leadership development and growth,” explained Garretson-Weibel.
“Over of the course of 14 months, we have eight in-state seminars, with a wide and varied curriculum. Each seminar does have a leadership component to it that could be anything from media training to personality analysis. There are also a number of topics discussed by professionals in the field; we have covered ag policy, ag marketing, natural resources and energy to name a few examples,” stated Garretson-Weibel.
She added seminars are typically two to three days in length, and each one is held in a different location across Wyoming. Each class is also exposed to four days of the Wyoming Legislature, a week in Washington D.C. meeting with ag-related groups and officials, and a 10-12 day international study tour to learn about ag issues in a different part of the world.
“I believe the L.E.A.D. Program accelerates participant’s leadership abilities, and provides them with a great network of individuals from across the state and country that they will have for life. It encourages participants to get involved; whether it’s running for the local school board, volunteering for a 4-H program or taking advantage of another opportunity to become a leader in their community,” said Garretson-Weibel of what participants of the program gain from their involvement.
“I gained a great deal more confidence in public speaking, and a better understanding of how our political process works. I left the program with a drive to become more involved, and to help make a positive difference in the ag industry,” noted LEAD alumni and board member Leif Hanson, who ranches near Kaycee, WY.
“Another great benefit of the L.E.A.D. Program are the friendships and connections you make. I’ve met people that are L.E.A.D. alumni from across the state, and from multiple classes, that are exceptional connections and friends,” continued Hanson.
“My L.E.A.D. experience was amazing, and allowed me to travel the state, country and world,” added Vice President of the L.E.A.D. Board of Directors, and program alumni Aaron Clausen. “My class traveled to Taiwan for our international trip, and other classes have been to such places as Australia and Spain.
“It also prepares you for the business world. In Wyoming agriculture we can do half a million dollars worth of business in boots and dirty old jeans, but in the corporate world there are some rules you need to know, and the L.E.A.D. Program teaches you those rules,” continued Clausen.
He added that the biggest thing he learned during the in-state seminars was on personality analysis, and how to get along and work with people that have a different perspective than he does.
“It’s hard to explain the broad range of things you get to see and learn in such a short amount of time. The people they bring in for the seminars are the very best at what they do, and you get the opportunity to hear them speak, and visit with them. You also go on a lot of industry tours around the state with the seminars, and I didn’t even know some of those thing existed in Wyoming,” noted Clausen.
“You can always come up with a thousand reasons not to do it, or not to do it right now. But that’s never going to change – you’ll always be busy, and it’s easy to find excuses. I encourage people to look at reasons to apply for the L.E.A.D. Program, because once you get involved with it, you will realize it’s one of the greatest decisions you’ve made,” added Hanson.
For more information on the Wyoming L.E.A.D. program, or an application, contact Cindy Garretson-Weibel at 307-777-6589 or cindy.weibel.@wyo.gov.
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