MOLINE, ILLINOIS - The 2016/18 Rice Leadership Development Program class began their week of training in Chicago at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), where they met with Fred Seamon, Senior Director, Commodity Research & Product Development. Seamon provided an overview on using the CBOT as a tool to reduce risk.
The class also visited the world headquarters here of program sponsor John Deere where they met with company executives and toured the combine factory. "Seeing the planning and preparation that goes into the manufacturing of the combines we use each fall to harvest our rice was awe-inspiring," said Brandon Truax, a rice farmer from Gillett, Arkansas. "Everyone we met with seemed genuinely interested in our opinions about the equipment we are now using and prompted us to provide input and share our thoughts and experiences as growers about the features and functions that are important to us in the field."
This is the second of four week-long sessions in the two-year leadership program. It includes personal development workshops on presentation skills, media training, and business etiquette. "Etiquette is not taught in school any longer and I know I needed a refresher course. This review was very beneficial for all of us," said Kristopher Riggs of Jonesboro, Arkansas.
After leaving the great mid-west area of the country, the class traveled to Arkansas to study the state's rice farming practices and processing industries. The itinerary included meetings with executives at Producers Rice Mill and Riceland Foods, and a tour of the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart.
For Sidney Robnett who farms in Stuttgart, the Research Center tour was a major highlight. Robnett said, "I farm very close to the Research Station so it was important to me to be able to finally tour the facility I've passed so many times. Getting to spend time with Dr. Chuck Wilson was extremely valuable and I appreciated being able to ask him questions about different varieties as well as pick his brain about growing practices."
"I really enjoyed the media communications training session that we had in Little Rock," said Olivehurst, California farmer Michael Bosworth. "Each member of the class chose a topic that they would be interviewed about and Steve Powell, who put on the training, really grilled each of us during the interview, as we were bring filmed. I think that everyone in the class really learned a lot about how to handle an interview and we saw the value of reinforcing the positive work we all do in the rice industry."
From Arkansas, the class traveled to Mississippi to tour Farmers Grain Terminal, Inc. in Greenville, a regional grain marketing company serving over 2,900 producers/owners in the Mississippi delta, southeast Arkansas, and northeast Louisiana.
The seven class members are rice producers Michael Bosworth, Imran Khan, Allen McLain, Sidney Robnett, Brandon Truax, and rice industry representatives are Sunny Bottoms, with Horizon Ag, LLC, and Kristopher Riggs, with Anheuser-Busch.
The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec Inc. and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and is managed by USA Rice.