Nebraska LEAD Program

Fifteen years ago, I met twenty-nine talented individuals with a passion of agriculture through the Nebraska LEAD program. To date, I remain friends with many of them and the networking opportunities have been tremendous. The in-state seminars challenged me to think outside of the box and remain an advocate for agriculture. I could go on and on about the excellent opportunities the LEAD program has provided, but I challenge you to experience it yourself!

The Nebraska LEAD Program began 40 years ago to develop agricultural leaders from Nebraska’s future generations. The constant changes that occur in agricultural policy, marketing, economics, and technology point to the need for strong leaders to advocate for the heart of Nebraska’s economy–agriculture. Now in its third decade of forming pioneering agricultural leaders, it has evolved into one of the nation’s premier agricultural leadership development programs.

The program is recognized both statewide and nationally as an innovative organization that has improved Nebraska in many ways. For example, many members of commodity boards, extension boards, local school boards, or local church councils, count themselves among our 1000+ alumni.

My LEAD group XXVII went to China, South Korea and Hong Kong for our International Study Travel Seminar.

The Nebraska LEAD Program is Nebraska’s only comprehensive state-wide agricultural leadership development program. Participants are selected each year for a two-year fellowship. During the two-year period:

  • LEAD Fellows participate in 12 three-day in-state seminars, which include spouses on four occasions.
  • Seminars are conducted at 11 cooperating public and private colleges and universities from across Nebraska.

Presenters represent a wide range of disciplines, from college and university levels, government, corporate executives, prominent community leaders, educational backgrounds, community development, leadership, rural development interpersonal skills and more!

Although the program attempts to present as many sides to current issues as possible to the participants, the program itself is both non-political and nonpartisan by design. During the first year, participants study local, state, and national issues. The first year also includes a ten-day national study/travel seminar to three major U.S. cities. Meetings with representatives from government, industry and national organizations complement the year’s seminar study and provide participants with practical first-hand exposure to the varied social, political, and economic conditions that exist in this country.

The second-year curriculum builds on the first-year topics with added global perspectives. Emphasis is placed on international trade, foreign policy, cross-cultural understanding, and geopolitics. The capstone of the second year’s study is a 14–16-day international study/travel seminar to several selected countries in the world. Considering that many of the world’s most critical problems tie directly with agriculture–population expansion, increasing food deficiencies, global trade dependencies, energy concerns–the international seminar provides immeasurable learning opportunities for heightened global understanding for more effective agricultural leadership and perspectives.

Applications are due no later than June 15 and are available via e-mail from the Nebraska LEAD Program.  Please contact Shana at sgerdes2@unl.edu.   You may also request an application by calling (402) 472-6810.         

Nebraska LEAD Program offices are in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. If you are even thinking about applying, contact me and I’d be more than happy to share my experiences with you and visit with you about this life-changing opportunity!

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