Leadership Program Information

Welcome to the Rice Leadership Development Program. The Rice Leadership Development Program is funded by grants from John Deere Company, RiceTec and American Commodity Company to The Rice Foundation. The USA Rice Federation develops and manages the program on behalf of The Rice Foundation.

The Program

The Rice Leadership Development Program gives future leaders a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills. The class attends four one-week sessions over a two-year period that encompasses studies of all aspects of the rice industry through firsthand observations. They also attend seminars and workshops designed to strengthen leadership skills. A special committee of rice industry and agribusiness leaders evaluate applications, letters of recommendation, as well as conduct personal interviews to determine the five rice producers and two individuals from rice-industry related professions who will make up the Rice Leadership Development Class. A one-week international session has been added for graduates of the program who have, since graduation, applied their leadership skills to industry service. A committee of rice industry and agribusiness leaders will evaluate applications and select alumni to participate in the session. The number of participants will be determined annually based on projected expenses to travel to the selected location.

Session Activities

Session I - Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast Rice Areas (late March or early April 2017)
  • Orientation to industry and organizational structures
  • River logistics and mid-stream loading facility in Mississippi River
  • Rice production, milling, research, promotion, and marketing in the Gulf Coast rice-growing areas.
Session II - Arkansas, Mississippi and Midwest (late June 2017)
  • Observe and discuss area rice production, milling, marketing and research
  • Improve communication skills - business etiquette, public speaking, media training
  • Observe and study the rice futures market at the Chicago Board of Trade and visit John Deere World Headquarters
Session III - California (September 2018)
  • Discuss agricultural and environmental issues in California
  • Rice production, harvesting, milling, marketing and research
  • Observe various water systems in rice producing areas of California 
Session IV - Washington, DC (February 2019)
  • Discuss industry issues with regulatory and governmental agencies (USDA, FAS, EPA, etc.)
  • Bipartisan discussions with key legislative contacts
  • Graduation


To be eligible to participate in the Rice Leadership Development Program, applicants must:
  • derive their primary livelihood as rice producers or from a rice industry-related profession or firm, including rice mills, rice product marketers, sales officials, dryers, extension services, research facilities, etc.  Participants from the industry-related category must serve the rice industry in their primary job responsibility.
  • demonstrate leadership potential.
  • be 25 to 45 years of age at time of application.
  • obtain employer approval prior to applying; if self-employed, must agree to devote time away from their business as required.
  • agree to attend all scheduled sessions, with exception of illness of participant or immediate family.
  • agree to complete all reports and evaluations as required.

Selection Procedure

  • The application must be filled out and returned to the Leadership Program Selection Committee, postmarked no later than October 1, 2016.
  • The major criteria for selection will be the applicant's leadership experience and potential to serve the U.S. rice industry.
  • Two letters of recommendation must accompany applications.
  • Finalists will be interviewed at the 201​6 USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis, TN. 
  • Previous applicants are encouraged to reapply for the program.