Jun 26, 2018
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- During their second session last week, the 2018-20 Rice Leadership Development Class traveled to Illinois, Arkansas, and Mississippi to learn about the rice futures market, communication skills, and rice production in the Mid-South.
The session began with a tour of the Chicago Board of Trade followed by a train ride to Moline, Illinois, where the class toured the John Deere Harvester Works plant, and Deere & Company’s World Headquarters.
“Coming from a small family farm it was somewhat surreal to go to the Chicago Board Of Trade and see the actual floor where the product I produce is being traded throughout the world,” said Zach Worrell, a rice farmer from Hornersville, Missouri. “The visit to John Deere was just as remarkable. What started out as loose parts at the beginning stations quickly turned into a fully functioning combine. You could tell everyone employed there took pride in their work and had a goal to deliver equipment to farmers that is as efficient and reliable as possible.”
The class then traveled to Arkansas for sessions on public speaking and media communication skills. As practice, each class member gave a short presentation to their peers as well as a recorded media-style interview, and received feedback on how to improve on presentation skills.
After surviving the interviews, the class joined Arkansas industry leadership and Rice Leadership Program alumni at Five Oaks Lodge for dinner. More than 45 fellow rice associates from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi attended.
The group finished up the week with visits to Producers Rice Mill, Riceland Foods, Inc., and the University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, as well as Farmers Grain Terminal, Inc., in Greenville, Mississippi.
"This was my first visit to the Mid-South and it was impressive. The production practices and rotations are much different than what I am used to,” said Brian McKenzie, a rice farmer from Plumas Lake, California. “In California, rice is not commonly rotated, it is rice year after year. In Arkansas and Mississippi, if you are a rice grower, then you are most likely a soybean producer as well. Whether the crop is milled and bagged, parboiled, or shipped out mid-stream, the massive processing facilities are gearing up to take on a really good looking rice crop."
Over the course of the week, events were hosted by John Deere, Arkansas members of the Class of 2013, Producers Rice Mill, Riceland Foods, George Dunklin, Farmers Grain Terminal, and Sidney Robnett, a member of the 2016-18 class.
John Deere Company, RiceTec, Inc., and American Commodity Company are sponsors of the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and USA Rice manages the program.