Twenty-three peanut growers and sheller representatives from across the Southeast, Texas and the Virginia-Carolina area began Class X of the Peanut Leadership Academy Dec. 12-14, 2016, in Miramar Beach, Florida. The Peanut Leadership Academy is hosted by the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and is a cooperative effort between Syngenta Crop Protection, the American Peanut Shellers Association and grower organizations. The program began in 1998 with the first class of 14 peanut growers from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Since then, the academy has continued to grow to include growers from Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and sheller representatives.
Activities in the leadership program are structured to give participants a thorough understanding of the U.S. peanut industry. Throughout the course of 18 months and five sessions, program attendees participate in sessions ranging from field trips, meetings with industry leaders and professional development training, as well as one session in Washington, D.C., where class members have an opportunity to visit with members of Congress about issues affecting the peanut industry. During this time, class members build on leadership skills, discuss and debate key industry issues and build relationships.
During the first session of the program, leadership academy attendees were introduced, presented an overview of the peanut industry and able to attend the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation annual meeting where they had the opportunity to listen to grower and industry reports. Participating Texas growers and sheller representatives in Class X include: Mason Becker, Brownfield; Eddie Bergen, Seminole; Michael Newhouse, Clarendon; and Kyle Hord, Golden Peanut & Tree Nuts.
Session two of Class X is tentatively planned to take place in March 2017. For more information on the Peanut Leadership Academy, contact PLA Coordinator, Jessie Bland at the Georgia Peanut Commission or visit www.southernpeanutfarmers.org.