Rice Leadership Development Graduates Makes the Connection

Group shot of people wearing fluorescent vests and hard hats at Arbuckle Reservoir TX
Dressed for success at the Arbuckle Reservoir in Wharton County, TX
Feb 24, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – The Rice Leadership Development Program’s Class of 2018/20 graduated from the prestigious program during a special ceremony at the USA Rice 2020 Government Affairs Conference today.  Rice Foundation Vice Chair David Petter 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 Brad Doyle, Weiner, AR; Adam Famoso, Crowley, LA; Brian McKenzie, Pleasant Grove, CA; Scott Savage, Matagorda County, TX; Matthew Sligar, Gridley, CA; Zach Urrutia, Maxwell, CA; Zach Worrell, Rives, MO.

Matthew Sligar served as class spokesperson.  He expressed his appreciation for the program and the many people the class met who fleshed out the industry, pointing up the interconnectivity, the nuances, the moving parts, and the diversity, that goes beyond an individual function or operation.

As Sligar admitted, “Before our first session I naively figured I had an understanding of the rice industry.  I mean, I understood my rice industry – how I seeded, how I harvested, and how I marketed my rice.  If asked about rice, my response was simply related to my experience.  Boy, was I in the dark!  After this two-year program, the industry has been illuminated.  Now, if anyone asks me a question about the rice industry, my answer, more often than not, starts with, “it depends.”  What we’ve all learned is there’s no simple answer, and it’s in our best interest to be informed so we can participate as educated industry advocates.”

The class will immediately go to work representing the rice industry during this week’s 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 have scheduled informational sessions for the class, including the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), and World Agricultural Outlook Board.

They also will meet with officials at CropLife America to discuss the responsible use of environmentally sound crop protection products, and get a review of worker safety regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

While in Washington, the group is scheduled to meet with Ambassador Francisco Santos Calderón at the Colombian 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.