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Applicants sought for ag leadership program


A statewide program working to develop the leadership skills of future Nebraska agriculture leaders is seeking applicants for its fall 2015 session.

The Nebraska Leadership Education Action Development program was established in 1981 by a consortium of University of Nebraska, industry and state governmental representatives.

Terry Hejny, the program’s director, said at first, the program was only meant to exist for a few years to ensure the next generation of ag leaders were prepared for the role. It was soon decided, however, there is always a need to develop leaders.

The Nebraska LEAD program is one of only 38 similar initiatives throughout the U.S.

This fall’s class will be the 35th group to embark on the two-year training in the state.

“Up to 30 motivated men and women with demonstrated leadership potential will be selected from five geographic districts across our state,” Hejny said in a release.

The program entails monthly three-day seminars throughout Nebraska from mid-September through early April each year. Additionally, there is a 10-day national study and travel seminar and a two-week international study and travel seminar.

Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential, natural resources and energy, agricultural policy, leadership through communication, social issues and the political process, among others.

“The Nebraska LEAD program is designed to prepare the spokespersons, problem solvers and decision makers for Nebraska and its agricultural industry,” the release adds.

Hejny explained the fellowship helps teach the participants how to think – not what to think.

There are nearly 1,000 alumni of Nebraska LEAD, and the program creates a fraternity of good friends who can be called on for advice or suggestions, he said.

The first year focuses on local, state and national issues and includes a trip to Washington, D.C.

International issues are discussed in the second year, with a trip to a foreign destination.

Last year’s class went to the United Arab Emirates, Nepal and India for 19 days.

Through the sessions and travel, Hejny said participants gain confidence and become better communicators.

“They also gain a greater awareness of the state,” he said. “There’s so much to see here in Nebraska. This brings it to life.”

While applications from Nebraska LEADS are solicited from throughout the state, Hejny encouraged Cheyenne County residents to apply. He said it’s a been a while since anyway from this county participated in the project.

Three years of Nebraska residency is required to apply, and participants must be involved in farming, ranching or agribusiness.

“We’re looking for people willing to put the time in,” Hejny said. “To take the first step toward personal and professional development.”

Five districts encompass the state, and each district selects five to six applicants, for a total of 30 or so participants.

“It’s a time proven process,” Hejny said. “And it’s also very competitive.”

Preference is given to those who have applied in the past but didn’t make it and choose to apply again.

Applications for the fall session are due June 15. More information about Nebraska LEADS can be found at or by calling (402) 472-6810.


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