Horizons Spring 2021

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horizons California Agricultural Leadership Foundation Magazine

S P R I N G 2021

ALUMNI PERSPECTIVES

Leadership Trajectory ALUMNI OF THE EARLY CLASSES SHARE EXPERIENCES FROM THE PROGRAM THAT IMPACTED THEIR LIVES. WITHOUT A DOUBT, THESE ALUMNI HAVE CARRIED THEIR AG LEADERSHIP LESSONS WITH THEM WHEREVER THEY GO.

We grow leaders who make a difference.


BOARD MESSAGE

Reimagining Opportunities BY MICHAEL YOUNG (35) California Agricultural Leadership Foundation Magazine

CHAIRMAN, CALF BOARD OF DIRECTORS As I write this quarter’s message, we just closed out 2020 and one of the most unconventional years in generations. Looking ahead, 2021 will be a year of rebuilding—or better yet, reimagining. To build a world equipped to handle challenges seen and unseen, people of influence must step up to the plate and commit themselves to playing an outsized role in shaping our future. It is through the dedication of leaders who make a difference, that the hardships of 2020 will be sowed into the beautiful opportunities of 2021. As we continue into 2021, I hope you’ll join me in thinking of it first and foremost as a moment of perseverance, while learning through adversity. Our circumstances created pressure to innovate, lead and inspire. The California Ag Leadership Foundation rose to the challenge by matching obstacles with resilience. Although not ideal, we were able to pivot our program and offer an opportunity to learn in a new format. We hired a new executive team, with Dwight Ferguson as president and CEO and Abby Taylor-Silva (45) as executive vice president. 2021 will be a shining star for the California Ag Leadership Program. We are in the midst of a strategic planning process, with the help of Maura Mitchell at Brandology, that will lay the foundation for the goals and objectives for the next five years of Ag Leadership. We are grateful for all the stakeholders who have participated in the process thus far. As we move into 2021, we also welcome Rob Goff (45) from the Wonderful Company to the board. Rob brings to the board his skills and knowledge from leading the Alumni Council’s Region 8, as well as his business and community acumen. After five years of service to the foundation, Mike Hollister has stepped down from the board. He was an integral part of our team and his leadership skills were called on in many ways during his tenure, including most recently being part of our search committee to hire our new CEO. I have learned a lot from Mike over the years and will greatly miss his participation on our board. Lastly, I want to give a special thank you to all our alumni, stakeholders and friends who made our end of year giving campaign so successful. Regardless of the times, you all stepped up to the plate to perpetuate the greatness of the California Ag Leadership Foundation. For all of you, I am most grateful. As always, if you have any issues, concerns or gratitudes, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at mike@wegisandyoung.com. CALF BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair / Michael Young Vice Chair / Cameron Boswell Secretary - Treasurer / Eugene Peterson Immediate Past Chair / Jeff Elder Past Chair / Loren Booth Yissel Barajas Karen Caplan Correen Davis Rob Goff Mike Mendes Dennis Nef Paul Parreira Emily Rooney Bill Van Skike CALF STAFF President & CEO / Dwight Ferguson Executive Vice President / Abby Taylor-Silva Director of Education / Shelli Hendricks Financial Manager / Sharon Harney Program Coordinator / Judy Sparacino Enterprise Coordinator / Emily Lazzerini Alumni Coordinator / Deanna van Klaveren

2 HORIZONS MAGAZINE SPRING 2021

WRITER/EDITOR Liza Robertson CONTRIBUTING WRITER/EDITOR Meredith Rehrman Ritchie DESIGNER TMDcreative

SPRING 2021 • www.agleaders.org

COVER STORY 6

Alumni Perspectives: Leadership Trajectory

FEATURES 10 12 14 20

Leadership Focus: Social Capital Virtual Breakfasts Support Ag Leadership Alumni Council Update Book Recommendations

DEPARTMENTS 2 2 3 4 21 23

Board Message Calendar of Events Foundation Message Foundation News Alumni & Fellows News Donor Recognition

CALENDAR May

5 7 24

June

4 23

July

2

Class 50 Virtual Seminar First Fridays Webinar Class 51 Phase Two Applications Due

First Fridays Webinar Common Threads Fresno Virtual Awards Ceremony

First Fridays Webinar


FOUNDATION MESSAGE

Leadership Trajectory and Progress BY DWIGHT FERGUSON, CALF PRESIDENT AND CEO This issue’s feature about leadership trajectory has me thinking about our path of progression at the California Ag Leadership Foundation (CALF). We expect airline flights or rocket launches to proceed along clearly planned paths, but we know sometimes circumstances prevent that from happening. The same can be true in our lives and businesses which is why, as leaders, we embrace change as a way of life, focus on the positive and make personal development a priority (which is especially helpful when overcoming obstacles). At CALF we are busy making trajectory plans for priorities, including program curriculum, alumni involvement, fellow recruitment, communication practices and management of our assets. We’re evaluating ways to expand our leadership influence and increase our impact on California’s ag industry. We’re as focused as ever on our mission to grow leaders who make a difference, just like the alumni we’re highlighting in the Alumni Perspective and Alumni Council Update articles in this quarter’s magazine. I’m also delighted we are featuring leadership lessons on social capital from CALF Education Team member Dr. Athanasios “Alex” Alexandrou from Fresno State. The term “social capital” refers to a positive benefit derived from human interaction. The benefit can be tangible or intangible and can include new information, idea sharing and discovered opportunities. It can contribute to an organization’s success via enhanced personal networks based on shared values and mutual respect. Dr. Alexandrou’s article could not be more timely as we continue to grapple with COVID-related (hopefully by now easing) restrictions on meeting while advancing our strategic planning.

Our recurring book recommendations page has been widely talked about. I am thrilled to have alumni, as well as CALF board Karen Caplan share some of their favorite reads. I hope you’ll take a look at the suggested books and send us your own recommendations for inclusion in future issues of the magazine. The application process for Class 51 opened in January with phase 1 applications due in late April. Qualified applicants from the first phase will have until May 24 to complete the phase 2 application process. Working with our partner universities, CALF is thoughtfully preparing various options to ensure we continue to effectively implement the program during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team continues to meet on a regular basis to review, evaluate and adjust as needed to ensure the program is delivered in the most effective and meaningful way possible while observing state and local protocols for health and safety. Our existing learning objectives will continue to drive decision making related to the curriculum, its delivery and effectiveness. Although we’ve missed out on opportunities for in-person interaction over the course of the last year, I’m extremely proud of the committees who organized two stellar virtual breakfast events. Even though the format was different, the content, participation and funds raised in support of Ag Leadership and education was incredible. I can’t help think how fortunate we are to be sharing this path, i.e. trajectory, with you as part of our exceptional CALF network. I know many of you look forward to receiving our magazine and I hope you enjoy this issue of Horizons as much as I do.

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FOUNDATION NEWS

Serendipity: Lessons Learned in

ROB GOFF JOINS

the Age of COVID-19

CALF BOARD

BY THE CALF EDUCATION TEAM As we reflect on 2020 , the emergent theme was “serendipity.” Serendipity is defined as, “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” None of us could have predicted how the program would be impacted, how Class 50 fellows would respond, or how we would all learn some unintended positive lessons through the unique experience, resulting from COVID-19. Although virtual sessions don’t have the same impact as in-person sessions, informational seminars can be quite effective to supplement experiential learning, especially when the directions are clear and the sessions are well-structured. It is remarkable how much can be accomplished virtually, especially after we’ve all gotten more used to it. Because of the deep relationships already developed in Class 50, we have been able to translate the connection to the virtual format at least to some extent. Also, “virtuality” (if that’s a word) opens up a wide world of resources to us that might not otherwise be available. Speakers from all over could be included in our sessions and time constraints for travel are not a factor. Class 50 members have been remarkably resilient for putting up with the sudden shift and the disappointment about losing some of their opportunities and certainties. It shows that our selection process is a good one and it identifies people who are completely committed to their own personal development, at any cost. That type of loyalty is very heartwarming to see. The fellows of Class 50 have had ample opportunity to engage in critical thinking and dialogues about complex social issues, leadership challenges and the role of leaders in driving the change they wish to see in the world. As we move forward with Class 50, we continue to offer a series of monthly mini-seminars on topics that reinforce learning objectives in the existing curriculum and we look forward to resuming in-person experiences once it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, the CALF Education Team continues to look for innovative approaches to enhance and support the curriculum, including additional expert speakers, multimedia resources and blended learning tools to support connectivity over time.

Rob Goff (45) manages the farming operations on approximately 21,000 acres of almonds, pistachios and pomegranates, the harvest of 30,000 acres of pistachios and the research and development department for Wonderful Orchards. His academic background and early career were focused in forestry and natural resources management, however, for the past 13 plus years, he has enjoyed a career in the Kern County ag industry. A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Rob earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry and natural resources management. He stays involved with multiple industry and community related boards and committees. He is a certified arborist/utility specialist, pest control advisor, qualified applicator and certified crop advisor. Rob and his wife, Joyel, enjoy spending time with their children, Katie, 18, and Thomas, 15. They like to visit Central Coast beaches, backpack the Sierra Nevada Mountains and visit family in upstate New York.

Winter 2021 Horizons Correction In the winter 2021 issue of Horizons, photos of Adin Hester (3) and Don Nelson (4) were mistakenly switched on a special tribute page. We are very sorry for this mistake. Our intention in creating this memorial page was to honor our alumni. We have updated the digital copy, which is now available online at AgLeaders.org. We have also distributed new corrected copies to classes 3 and 4. We know that remembrances are important, especially at an organization where relationships and personal connections are such an integral part of what makes the program special. Please accept our sincerest apologies for this mistake.

Adin Hester (3)

DON NELSON (4) 4 HORIZONS MAGAZINE SPRING 2021


FOUNDATION NEWS

Looking Back 15 Years

MAY – JUNE

• The Agricultural and Government Leaders Spring Reception was held at Sofia Restaurant in Sacramento.

Following are some foundation and program highlights from 2006.

JANUARY • The 29th Ag Leadership Annual Conference was held in Sacramento (theme: “Global Influence Begins at Home”). David Martella (22), Tom Mulholland (18), Hank Stone (1) and Scott Stone (28) received the Profiles in Leadership Award. George Gomes and Dr. Julian Whaley received the Honorary Fellow Award.

• Class 35 commencement was held at Cal Poly Pomona. As part of the festivities, alumni could also attend the annual theater night (Smokey Joe’s Café in 2006).

AUGUST – OCTOBER

• In August, 20 D.C. Exchange participants visited regions 8, 9, 10 and 11. • In October, eight California Exchange participants toured through regions 1, 2, 3 and 4.

FEBRUARY – MARCH

• Class 35 fellows traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for their international seminar. • Class 36 fellows traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York City for their national seminar. More than 500 people attended the class reception at the U.S. Capitol. • The D.C. Exchange selection committee interviewed more than 60 candidates in D.C. • Lifelong Learning Series events were conducted at Chico State and Fresno State.

• Region 12 and Dean Brown golf tournaments raised thousands for CALF. • The 2006-07 Fellows Council worked with the CALF board to align its policies and procedures – including terms of office and elections system – with the new board governance process.

NOVEMBER • Dean Brown, one of Ag Leadership’s founders, passed away.

• Numerous regional recruitment events were held for potential Class 37 candidates.

• Two annual conferences in one year! The conference moved to November to coincide with inauguration and a class seminar.

• The Class 37 application process was fully integrated on CALF’s website.

• The 30th Ag Leadership Annual Conference, held in San Diego, featured U.S.-Mexico panels on immigration and NAFTA and included a day trip across the border. Dr. Charlie Crabb received the Honorary Fellow Award.

• Colusa Farm Show and World Ag Expo breakfasts drew hundreds of attendees and raised thousands for CALF.

• Class 37 inauguration was held on Nov. 10.

• The annual Agristruction BBQ welcomed Class 36.

Class 36 National Seminar

Class 35 Commencement

D.C. Exchange, 2006

Class 37 Inaugural

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COVER STORY

Alumni PerspectiveS: Leadership Trajectory BY LIZA ROBERTSON

I SPOKE TO SEVEN AG LEADERSHIP ALUMNI ABOUT HOW THEIR EXPERIENCES AS FELLOWS OF THE EARLY CLASSES IMPACTED THEIR LIVES. WITHOUT A DOUBT, THESE ALUMNI HAVE CARRIED THEIR AG LEADERSHIP LESSONS WITH THEM WHEREVER THEY GO. ALL HAVE UTILIZED THE SKILLS THEY GAINED IN A WAY THAT SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACTED THEIR LEADERSHIP TRAJECTORIES. “Ag Leadership taught me during that first session in Sacramento that I’m just as good as the rest of my fellows with college degrees,” said John Muller (8). “It really increased my confidence. Because of Ag Leadership, I found myself having many high-profile experiences that I had never expected to have, like serving as mayor of Half Moon Bay, or being appointed by four different governors to serve on a state board. How did I get these experiences? Because of Ag Leadership. Thank you to Ag Leadership and its founders!”

Simply put, Jim Nielsen (5) attributes his success away from life on the farm to the exposure he gained to the world through the Ag Leadership Program. “The joy of going way beyond the farm to experience life and to learn— these were the most impactful times for me,” said Nielsen. For Peggy Perry, Ph.D. (9), the opportunities she had to learn from her fellow classmates left a lasting impression and gave her an enduring sense of obligation to not sit back and complain about things, but to go out and make a difference.

Those of you who know John Muller won’t be surprised to hear how passionate he is about his Ag Leadership experience. Muller attributes much of his leadership success to the program that he and his wife, Eda, both say changed his life. The social experiences changed his outlook on the world and gave him an inclusive attitude which he is especially proud of.

“One of the most impactful experiences was being with a group of people who were so committed to giving back and taking on leadership roles,” said Perry. “I was young and was doing great in my academic role, but I didn’t have people in my orbit in the industry who were so knowledgeable about issues, so that inspired me.”

“Ag Leadership gave me confidence—and that confidence showed up last year when I flew the gay pride flag at my farm,” said Muller. “I had hundreds of people stop and thank me for making them feel welcome. I would never have been that person if it wasn’t for Ag Leadership. It made me the person I am. No matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done, I’m thankful for that.”

When Gus Collin (3) thinks back on Ag Leadership moments that left the greatest impression on his life, he remembers times when he learned about making a difference through interactions with government leaders.

Another graduate who gained confidence during their time in the program is Audrey Tennis (12). She describes the experience as giving her the tools she needed to reach for goals she had never imagined she would have. “Ag Leadership was just this great big launching pad for me,” said Tennis. “It provided me the perfect combination of training and experiences to mix with the skills and abilities that I brought to the table. It gave me the confidence to become a risk taker and reach out for opportunities that appeared to be far beyond my wildest dreams or imagination.”

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“Whether in Detroit, LA, Cairo, Riyadh or Jerusalem, it was insightful to see how factions were making inroads to work together, with great divides remaining,” said Williams-Courtright. “I will never forget the Saudi Bedouin camp with a Toyota truck parked out front and a TV antennae for the tent roof, or the size of the pipes pumping oil from the ground in Dhahran, or the huge Egyptian families working the land with hand hewn tools and oxen or the state-of-the-art irrigation in Israel.”

For Jacquie Williams-Courtright (11) it was the experiences she had of seeing the stark contrasts within city blocks, borders and regions that were “a reality check.”

HORIZONS MAGAZINE SPRING 2021

“Getting to know who the decision makers are and knowing that I could go to Washington and make changes—that changed my outlook on the type of impact I could make,” said Collin. Ask Bob Dempel (4) about instances of enduring impact and he’ll recall three especially long-lasting memories. The first was Class 4’s international seminar which took him to Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Italy. The second was the time he found himself sitting in a meeting with then Vice President Gerald Ford. “Jerry Ford sat down with us and said ‘Gentlemen, I can guarantee you there’s no Ford in your future.’ He didn’t believe he would become president. But then Watergate hit, Nixon was gone and Ford was president,” said Dempel.


COVER STORY

“AG LEADERSHIP TOTALLY CHANGED MY LIFE. I WAS FORTUNATE TO BE IN THE GREATEST CLASS. THE PROGRAM WAS STILL THREE YEARS BACK THEN AND WE GOT TO SPEND A LOT OF QUALITY TIME WITH OUR CLASSMATES AND GET TO KNOW THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES. I WAS VERY, VERY FORTUNATE TO BE IN MY CLASS.” -GUS COLLIN (3)

“WE LIVE AG LEADERSHIP IN OUR HOUSE. WE WAIT FOR THE HORIZONS MAGAZINES. WE KEEP IN CONTACT WITH ONE ANOTHER. WE WERE A TRAILBLAZING CLASS BECAUSE WE WERE THE FIRST CLASS TO GO THROUGH THE PROGRAM IN TWO YEARS.” -BOB DEMPEL (4)

“MY LIFE IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT AS A RESULT OF MY EXPOSURE TO CONTINUAL LEARNING AND BEING INTRODUCED TO NEW IDEAS. SIMPLY BEING MORE CURIOUS, LISTENING TO ISSUES, THE BOOKS THAT I READ—IT HAS ALL BEEN INFLUENCED BY AG LEADERSHIP.” -PEGGY PERRY (9)

“I THINK WE ALL SAY IT, THE FRIENDSHIPS THAT WE NOT ONLY ACQUIRED FROM OUR CLASSMATES, BUT FROM ALL AG LEADERSHIP GRADUATES, NO MATTER WHERE WE PASS EACH OTHER IN THE WORLD, HAVE DEEPLY INFLUENCED MY LIFE. BECAUSE OF AG LEADERSHIP I’VE HAD A GREAT LIFE. I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR MY AG LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE AND I CHERISH IT ALL THE TIME. YOU NEVER GET OVER IT.” -JOHN MULLER (8)

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COVER STORY

“THE WORLD EXPERIENCE I GAINED THROUGH AG LEADERSHIP INFLUENCED MY LIFE BY HELPING TO PUT LOCAL ISSUES IN PERSPECTIVE” JACQUIE WILLIAMS-COURTRIGHT (11)

“AG LEADERSHIP INFLUENCED MY LIFE BY GIVING ME A FOUNDATION UPON WHICH TO BUILD AND DEVELOP MY TALENTS AND ABILITIES. NOT ONLY HAVE I BENEFITED FROM THIS EXPOSURE, BUT MY FAMILY HAS AS WELL. WE ALL SERVE WHOLEHEARTEDLY AT WHATEVER WE ARE ‘CALLED’ TO DO.” -AUDREY TENNIS (12)

“THE DIVERSITY AND BREADTH AND DEPTH OF THE AG LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE IN THOSE OF US WHO HAVE BEEN A PART OF IT IS INCREDIBLE. AG LEADERSHIP HAS TAKEN US BEYOND THE FARM AND MADE US MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE LEADERS OF OUR INDUSTRY— THAT’S AFFIRMATION OF THE VISION OF THE FOUNDERS.” -JIM NIELSEN (5)

“A leader is someone who can get along with people and get things done, especially in the complex world we live in today.” -Gus Collin (3)

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“Leadership is for everybody. Meaning everyone has the opportunity to make choices to move things in a positive direction. We have to lead ourselves first and display the qualities of a leader; then we can influence people. Knowing yourself and staying true to yourself—I’d say that is a big part of leadership.” -Peggy Perry (9)

HORIZONS MAGAZINE SPRING 2021

“I think about all the Ag Leadership folks throughout California and I think you’d be hard pressed to find an ag product in our state that doesn’t have some connection to somebody who went through the program.” -Bob Dempel (4) “I think the most important thing is, besides being understanding and respectful, you have to be a good listener. Give respect, make time for other people, be nice. Especially after everything we’ve gone through in America.” -John Muller (8)

“Finding ways to collaborate and always looking for the high ground have been my guiding tenants for leadership.” -Jacquie WilliamsCourtright (11) “Leadership in its most succinct definition to me is someone who makes a difference. Whatever your contributions are, you being a part of it has made a difference. Sometimes you’re changing the world, sometimes you’re changing the minute. Sometimes it’s small, but it’s never inconsequential. It is all important.” -Jim Nielsen (5)

“Defining leadership in the context of agriculture and my personal journey is truly a case of melding leadership intelligence into all situations of life. What looked like leadership 40 years ago is not what it looks like to me now. Today leadership is about serving by example in everything that I do and desiring to be fully knowing in all these situations that I am right where I’m supposed to be.” -Audrey Tennis (12)


COVER STORY

Dempel’s third meaningful recollection was of a seminar at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the public speaking abilities he gained during that time. “I remember vividly having to stand up and give talks in front of the class,” said Dempel. “It was recored and played back and every classmate had to comment on the speech you had given. By far and away, those communications elements that were taught left the greatest impact on my life.” During moments when he found himself in leadership roles up against large developers, major polluters and other heavy-hitters, Muller drew on what he had learned during the program to shepherd him through.

Be it education, government issues or situations that impact farms and the industry collectively, Nielsen says he relies on his Ag Leadership contacts regularly and can point to them as a means of guidance when needed. “In all candor, it is a rare week that I don’t have some contact with somebody from Ag Leadership,” said Nielsen. “I still stay in touch with many, and we are very close. I’m in contact with a member of the Ag Leadership network often, and usually not in dealing with an Ag Leadership subject. As we have all gone on post Ag Leadership, the diversity of our endeavors demonstrates that we have been trained to succeed. The connections expand our own Ag Leadership experiences.”

“Negotiating with Judge Vaughn Walker for $40 million to save our community of Half Moon Bay from developers was without a doubt the moment in my life when I most utilized what I had learned,” said Muller. “I counted on my Ag Leadership experience every time I was going into hostile or tense meetings. I got a lot of experience that helped me handle tough situations.”

Perry thinks of times when she was faced with decision-making opportunities as examples of how Ag Leadership positively influenced the outcome.

Williams-Courtright draws on the knowledge she gained from Class 11’s international travel seminar in 1982 to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel to guide her when it comes to making decisions on a local level.

Collin credits Ag Leadership with opening doors that he had never expected to find himself in front of. He is filled with gratitude for the unforgettable leadership positions he held that lead to broad opportunities throughout his life.

“As a new water board member, having witnessed global water struggles provided me with great depth of understanding that I could apply to local issues,” said Williams-Courtright. “Water conservation practices in Israel and desalination plants in Saudi Arabia demonstrated how others met challenges.” Whether serving as chair of the California Water Commission, or while on the state board for California Women for Agriculture, Tennis says she draws on her ties to the Ag Leadership network for support in her many leadership roles. “The connections I made have served me well,” said Tennis. “It goes without saying that the contacts I made through Ag Leadership, both in and outside the program, proved to be very, very instrumental in the leadership situations I found myself propelled into. This is especially true in our own farming business, helping to establish Golden Valley Bank, serving on The Enloe Foundation board and in many other places.”

State Sen. Jim Nielsen (5) on Mentoring Long ago, I literally wrote a philosophy of life—what I wanted my life to be. I did that as a senior in high school. At that time, I didn’t know what a philosophy was. Now, as a part of my mentoring, I challenge younger folks to write a full paragraph of what they want their lives to be. I tell them to set it aside and then come back to it and condense it into three sentences and then reduce that to three to five words that become the keystones of their lives. Mine are faith, family and leadership.

“When I was considering stepping up to take an opportunity, I would make the choice to not hang back and to not be intimidated by the situation,” said Perry. “I tell myself, ‘if I can bring value to it, I should.’”

“One of the greatest experiences I had was to be fortunate enough to be chair of Sunsweet Growers,” said Collin. “That would’ve never happened had it not been for Ag Leadership. The program changed our lives completely. I got to see the world and experience a lot of things I would never have imagined if it had not been for Ag Leadership.” When it comes to situations in careers or leadership positions that were positively influenced by a graduate’s Ag Leadership training, the alumni I spoke to all agree that when faced with opportunities to make a profound impact, they lean on what they learned during the program. These seven alumni are outstanding examples of the indelible influence the California Ag Leadership Program has, and will continue to have, on fellows, alumni, families, businesses, communities and the ag industry. Thank you to these alumni for sharing their stories!

I literally have a passion for mentoring others. I’ve been helped in my life path by others and I’ve made a devotion to mentoring. Literally every day I am mentoring and encouraging other people. If you associate yourself with me, as in work for me, my goal is to help you, encourage you and mentor you to grow every single day. And what that means to those who’ve been in my employ is that they move along to even better opportunities. From what I’ve experienced, they then always know there’s a future, they are challenged to grow and improve, and they go on. But then I have a very accomplished person in a notable place who is my

ally, associate or friend. And now I have a network of friends and associates all over in all sorts of endeavors. They know they’re challenged to grow, get better and be better than what they are today. That assembly of people is more effective than they would have been had they not moved on. Mentoring is a joy for me. I’m the better for it. It makes me feel good and warm in my heart that I have helped them in their lives to become something better. There are always others in line to move up and it’s become a formula that really works for me. I had many mentors, including the founders—they are still a part of my life every day.

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SPRING 2021 HORIZONS MAGAZINE


FEATURE STORY

Social Capital and the California Agricultural Leadership Program BY ATHANASIOS “ALEX” ALEXANDROU, PH.D., CORE FACULTY, FRESNO STATE DEPARTMENT OF INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY

Leadership Development

The California Agricultural Leadership Program (CALP) is designed to enhance the leadership skills of its participants in three different primary areas: personal/individual growth, social/civic engagement and institutional/ community engagement. The program seeks to develop measurable competencies such as skills and knowledge but also competencies that are difficult to measure such as values, self-image, motives and traits (Hay Group, 2003). It uses a diamond model of leadership developed by Dr. Pat Lattore (Fig. 1) which has four interconnected elements that constitute the basics of a leader, namely: doing, current reality, future reality and being.

Doing

This dimension of the leader is related to both individual and collective growth. It is based on the skills, competencies and courage that allows the leader to develop qualities that would enhance his/her executive abilities and understanding of his/her surroundings.

Current Reality

This dimension of the model allows the participant to develop an understanding of the current challenges that may reside at the individual relationship level and also at a larger institutional or higher level. Both require traits related to an understanding of the cultural and organizational challenges.

Future Reality

The leader needs to lead self or the group into the future with actions and decisions that will enhance the element of trust that the followers endow upon the leader. The futuristic element includes a certain degree of uncertainty and needs to include a measure of transparency, thus making the involvement of the stakeholders in the decision-making process necessary. Such involvement will increase the acceptance of the leader’s decisions and indicate that they are willing to create and use social capital.

Being

This dimension focuses mostly on the individual and its personal growth. It targets the development of skills that will increase the leader’s emotional intelligence, ability to change, to understand different opinions, question established patterns, communication skills and other similar traits. The above dimensions of leadership can be used at an individual level, to form and shape character and spirituality at the community and organization levels as figure 1 indicates. In other words, the current model used by CALP nurtures the development of individual sets of skills that can be used to understand how to relate to others and engage with civic functions and social networks.

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To achieve the above, the CALF Education Team exposes the fellows to leadership theory, effective communication, motivation, critical thinking, change management and emotional intelligence, among others, that contribute to improved performance and “immersion into complex social and cultural issues.” The program uses individual coaching as an important part of the experiences offered.

Social Capital

Social capital is a term that has grown in use since the 1990s (Scrivens & Smith, 2013) and today is used in a variety of disciplines including economics, education and politics. The term has been defined in a number of ways based on the discipline and perceptions. Most authors relate social capital with relationships within and between groups, while others consider the concept of social capital as the “productive value of social connections” (Scrivens & Smith, 2013). Robert Putnam (2000), James Coleman (1998) and Pierre Bourdieu (1996) have contributed significantly to the understanding of the concept of social capital theory. Each author’s view is popular and contributes “to the understanding of how social capital networks provide value, yet the type of networks and the type of value considered in their respective work differs significantly” (Scrivens & Smith, 2013, p. 12). Scrivens & Smith (2013, p. 8) identified four areas of focus that describe the term social capital, namely: “(1) personal relationships; (2) social network support; (3) civic engagement and (4) trust and cooperative norms” (Fig. 2). In the context of social capital: 1) Personal relationships can be understood as part of a personal social network which includes the people that the person knows. 2) Social support network can be understood as “a range of different kinds of assistance and advantages facilitated by people’s social ties” (Scrivens & Smith, 2013, p. 25). 3) Perez, Espinoza, Ramos, Coronado and Cortes (2010) defined civic engagement as “providing a social service, activism, tutoring and functionary work” (Perez et al., 2010, p. 245). 4) Trust is a concept difficult to define and related to the way that a person interacts with their peers, institutions and the way he/she views society. It can be described as institutional trust or trust in individuals. Cooperative norms describe the tools and means that individuals and institutions have established and follow in order to communicate and collaborate between themselves. Trust together with cooperative norms support societal functioning and cooperation for mutual socioeconomic advancement.


FEATURE STORY

Social Capital and Leadership Development

CALP focuses not only on the personal characteristics of the leader, but also on their leadership skills, accepting that a leader alone will not create successful organizations (Thorpe et al., 2009, p. 202). A successful leader is merged within his/her community, organization and “creates a social process that engages everyone in the community” (Day, 2000, p. 583). “The leader’s task is to get work done through other people, and social skill makes that possible” (Goleman, 2004). In other words, social processes and networks are important in a leadership development program.

F UTUR E R EALITY

ORGANIZATION

SPIR ITUALITY

Vision, Mission, Purpose, Hopes & Dreams for Future

The social capital theory offers the tools to better understand the value of social processes and focuses on participation, engagement and trust (Leitch et al., 2013, p. 352). The emphasis is on the relationships developed between individuals or groups, in public or private settings, within and between groups, inter- and intra-organizational. It explains personal relationships, social support networks, civic engagements, and trust and cooperative norms that are necessary in order to build social capital. A leader that understands the above will grow at the individual and collective levels. For Balkundi and Kilduff (2005, p. 943) “leadership can be understood as social capital that collects around certain individuals—where formally designated as leaders or not—based on the acuity of their social perceptions and the structure of their social ties.” Social capital can be considered a relational development tool that could be used by leadership development programs to create the skills required to build relationships and social networks. Using the above, the fellow will be able to bridge the gap, reach other social groups, develop individual and organizational trust, create synergies and get the job done.

DOING Skills, Capabilities, Competencies, Courage, Building

References Balkundi, P. and M. Kilduff (2005). ‘The ties that lead: a social network approach to leadership’, Leadership Quarterly, 16, pp. 941–961. Barceló Monroy, S. (2020). Assessing the role of social capital on the academic performance of Mexican diaspora university students in California (Doctoral dissertation). Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241258). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Callahan, J.L. and Rosser, M.H. (2007), “Pop goes the program: using popular culture artifacts to educate leaders,” Advances in Developing Human Resources, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 269-287, doi: 10.1177/1523422306298902.

Inner Self, Confidence, Becoming

CUR R EN T R EALITY COMMUNITY

Climate, Culture

CHAR ACTER

Diamond Model of Leadership. ©1996 P. A. Lattore

Figure 1. The Diamond Model of Leadership (Lattore, 1996).

The above are important traits for any leader. The Ag Leadership Program offers a mix of interpersonal skills and social competencies including emotional intelligence. Goleman (2000) states that emotional intelligence has four fundamental capabilities: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skill. The latter two are directly related to social capital. Although some may suggest that the program in its current form may be skewed towards human capital, significant elements of the social capital theory are already present. These elements need to be further enhanced and strengthened so the program can provide the participants social skills and network traits to become efficient and effective leaders. Dr. Athanasios “Alex” Alexandrou teaches undergraduate courses in mechanized agriculture at Fresno State. His research focuses on mechanical weed control as part of organic farming, tractor-implement interaction, soil mechanics with particular interest in soil compaction and its assessment. Research interests also include assistive technology for people with disabilities so they will remain engaged in agriculture, technology into the classroom and ancient Greek technology. He joined the industrial technology department in 2006.

B EING FEEDBACK & R EFLECT ION

TRUST AND COOPERATIVE NORMS

SOCIAL NETWORKS SUPPORT

SOCIAL CAPITAL

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Figure 2. Social Capital Dimensions (Barcelo Monroy, 2020).

Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. The American Journal of Sociology, 94, 95-120. Day, D. V. (2000). ‘Leadership development: a review in context’, Leadership Quarterly, 11, pp. 581–613. Hay Group, (2003), Using Competencies to Identify High Performers: An Overview of the Basics in Brosnan, K. (2014). Leadership Development Pathways for Irish Agriculture. Nuffield Ireland. Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard business review, 78(2), 4-17. Goleman, D. (2004). What makes a leader? Harvard business review, 82(1), 82-91. Leitch, C. M., McMullan, C., & Harrison, R.T. (2013). The development of entrepreneurial leadership: The role of human, social and

institutional capital. British Journal of Management, 24(3), 347-366. Putnam R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. In: L. Crothers & C. Lockhart (Eds.), Culture and Politics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Scrivens, K., & Smith, C. (2013). Four interpretations of social capital: an agenda for measurements. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Statistics Working Papers, 06. Paris: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/18152031. Thorpe, R., J. Cope, M. Ram and M. Pedler (2009). ‘Editorial: Leadership development in small- and medium-sized enterprises: the case for action learning’, Action Learning: Research and Practice, 6, pp. 201–208.

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FEATURE STORY

Virtual Breakfasts Highlight Ag Industry’s Commitment to Leadership BY LIZA ROBERTSON

AG LEADERSHIP ALUMNI VIRTUAL WORLD AG EXPO BREAKFAST

This year’s virtual breakfast on February 11 was attended by over 300 individuals who logged on to participate in a live virtual event featuring speaker and sports author Ross Bernstein, who presented his popular program “Wearing the C: Leadership Lessons from the Greatest Captains and Coaches in Sports.” The 27th annual event raised approximately $120,000 for the Ag Leadership Foundation and $2,000 for the AgVentures! Learning Center in Tulare. “We are proud of the World Ag Expo Breakfast committee and the great work they and their sponsors accomplished,” said CALF President and CEO Dwight Ferguson. “Their speaker, Ross Bernstein, was as entertaining and motivational as ever and the hospitality we received from everyone at Valley PBS was outstanding.” Each year, Ag Leadership alumni and members of the California ag industry look forward to the opportunity to come together during the World Ag Expo to share in camaraderie and to show support for developing leaders. As chairman of the virtual breakfast, Mark Krebsbach (48) acknowledged that even though this year’s event looked different, participants still showed their commitment to leadership development by coming together virtually in celebration of the agriculture industry. “This year’s event was not the kind of breakfast gathering we were used to, but the dedication shown to by our committee, sponsors and attendees, is inspiring,” said Krebsbach. “We are grateful for the continued support we have been shown and proud of our contributions to Ag Leadership.” Bernstein delivered an inspirational message about leadership in the agriculture industry, sharing well-known leadership principles and case studies from his many years covering sports. As part of his keynote address, Bernstein

Thank you to this year’s major sponsors!

Platinum Sponsor: The Zenith Agribusiness Solutions Media Sponsor: Valley PBS Gold Sponsors: Nationwide Agribusiness, State Fund Compensation Insurance Silver Sponsors: Travelers Agribusiness, Western Growers Bronze Sponsors: Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies, Chubb Agribusiness, Gallagher, ICW Group Insurance Companies, RCIS

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Visit AgLeaders.org to watch recordings of the virtual breakfasts.

challenged participants to think about the differentiators that truly set them apart from everybody else. He also shared ideas to drive morale and generate momentum, including leading with respect and being compassionate. Bernstein’s presentation highlighted interviews with local ag leaders who shared some of the challenges they’ve faced since last year’s event. The speaker drew connections between leaders in the ag industry and those in the sports world. “There’s so much we can learn from sports that applies to business,” said Bernstein. “Be positive and think about how you’re going to affect change and what you’re gonna do—visualizing success is really what it’s all about.” The event also included comments from Krebsbach (48) and Ferguson. CALF board member Emily Rooney (39) served as emcee and moderator of the Q&A session. “This has been a year of many firsts,” said Rooney. “Who could have imagined just one year ago at the Farm Show we would be holding a virtual breakfast due to a global pandemic? The challenges we have faced as individuals and as the agricultural industry is evidence of our need for the California Ag Leadership Foundation. In order for our industry to survive, we must be resilient in our response to challenges like COVID-19. Thanks to the supporters of Ag Leadership, the future of this program is secure and available for future generations of agricultural leaders.” The history of the popular breakfast can be traced back to several Ag Leadership alumni who teamed up with the insurance industry to create a partnership to benefit the CALF. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $1 million for the CALF.

Thank you to the event committee! Amy Benton Mandy Critchley (37) Doug DeGroff (29) Cliff Dunbar Dwight Ferguson Dino Giacomazzi (36) Debbie Hurley (21) Nomie Kautz (30) Mark Krebsbach, 2021 Chair (48)

Ed Kuykendall (28) Fred Lagomarsino (19) Ian LeMay, 2022 Chair (48) Soapy Mulholland (25) Cindy Myers (22) Liza Robertson Judy Sparacino Ray Van Beek (37) Deanna van Klaveren (32)


COLUSA FARM SHOW VIRTUAL BREAKFAST

In early February nearly 150 attendees participated in the Colusa Farm Show Virtual Breakfast. The much-anticipated event serves as a platform for reconnecting, learning and celebrating leadership within the agriculture industry. Since its inception in 2003, the breakfast has raised more than $500,000 for scholarships and leadership programs. This year’s virtual event raised $40,000 for the CALF and Chico State Ag Alumni Scholarships and academic needs. “Thank you to the Colusa Farm Show Breakfast committee for the great work they did in pulling this event together,” said CALF President and CEO Dwight Ferguson. “It looked much different than the breakfasts we’re accustomed to, but they chose a great speaker in Tyson Redpath and the dedication they continue to show the foundation is truly inspiring. This annual gathering is something we at Ag Leadership are proud and thankful to be associated with.” The virtual event’s keynote speaker was Tyson Redpath. He is senior vice president of The Russell Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm that specializes in food and agriculture. Redpath shared his insights about what might be expected of the new administration and Congress following the election. “To establish an underlying theme for agriculture policy at the federal level moving forward, the one word I want to leave you with is change. Change is that underlying theme as we look ahead in a new Congress and a new administration. All of that brings about change, it is historically and customarily the situation anytime when you go through an election and certainly this election is no different.” Redpath ended his presentation by urging the event’s participants to approach what lies ahead with open-minded attitudes and a willingness to work towards understanding for the benefit of the agriculture industry.

Thank you to this year’s major sponsors! Presenting Sponsor: Rabo AgriFinance Gold Sponsors: 4R Farming Inc., Agricultural Advisors Inc., Helena Agri-Enterprise LLC, KCoe Isom, M & T Ranch, North Valley Ag Services, Taylor Bros. Farms, Inc.

FEATURE STORY “Obviously change is what all elections are about and those elections have consequences, both positive and negative,” said Redpath. “I would encourage everyone, as we approach this change in Washington and the consequences that come from it, to approach it with an open mind, with civil discourse and with an eye toward the future based on what I know and you know California agriculture has done and is capable of doing.” During his presentation, ag economist Roland Fumasi, Ph.D. from RaboResearch Food & Agriculture, shared his knowledge and insights about the industry. Fumasi is part of a team of global economists and analysts from across the world who cover agriculture and the global economy. “We expect robust increases in global GDP and domestic GDP this year, coming out of the COVID situation,” said Fumasi. “In markets like the U.S., we think there’s still enough downside pressure that we don’t have big inflationary concerns. So we don’t expect the federal reserve to be raising interest rates in 2021.” The event also included comments by representatives from Chico State College of Agriculture, CALF, Rabo Agrifinance, AGR PHI chapter and the AGR BETA KAPPA chapter. Event committee member Sarah DeForest (39) is grateful to the sponsors who continued their support of the virtual breakfast and is pleased the event was still able to contribute to leadership development and agricultural education. “No ground was lost in supporting our organizations despite the virtual format,” said DeForest. “Although we missed the company and fellowship of being together in St. Bernadette’s Hall, we were pleased with the success of the webinar. Our speakers, Roland Fumasi and Tyson Redpath, offered thoughtful, informative remarks about what agriculture can expect in economic and policy terms in the coming months and years.”

Thank you to the event committee! Lewis Bair (33) Terry Bressler (30) Christie Capik Bill Carriere (27) Colleen Cecil Holly Dawley (38)

Sarah DeForest (39) Robin Flournoy (29) Les Heringer (13) Christine Ivory (41) Mark Kimmelshue (28) Emily Lazzerini

Tom Martin Justin Nunes John Unruh John Weiler (22) René Whitchurch

“WE ALL HOPE TO BE TOGETHER AGAIN, IN PERSON, FOR THE BREAKFAST EVENTS NEXT YEAR. NEVERTHELESS, BOTH BREAKFASTS WERE TERRIFIC AND WE COULDN’T BE MORE GRATEFUL FOR THE SUPPORT THEY AGAIN PROVIDED AG LEADERSHIP!” -CALF PRESIDENT AND CEO DWIGHT FERGUSON 13 SPRING 2021 HORIZONS MAGAZINE


ALUMNI COUNCIL UPDATE

Get to Know Alumni Council Liaisons and New Leaders BY ABBY TAYLOR-SILVA (45), CALF EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT

OUR ALUMNI COUNCIL (AC) IS VITAL TO THE CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURAL LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION (CALF). IT PROVIDES CRITICAL FEEDBACK TO OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND STAFF TEAM ABOUT THE LIFELONG LEARNING INTERESTS OF OUR ALUMNI, KEEPS OUR ALUMNI CONNECTED WITH ONE ANOTHER AND FACILITATES CRITICAL RECRUITMENT EVENTS WHICH GUIDE AND WELCOME THE NEXT GENERATION OF FELLOWS. CRUCIAL TO THE AC ARE THE LIAISONS WHO KEEP INFORMATION AND COLLABORATION FLOWING. WE HIGHLIGHT SIX OF THOSE LIAISONS IN THIS ISSUE OF HORIZONS AND INTRODUCE YOU TO THE AC’S NEW CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR.

Manpreet Bains (43) Alumni Council Education Team Liaison Partner, Manseena Orchards, Four Leaf Farms and Far Horizon Insurance Sacramento Manpreet Bains joined the CALF Education Team as the Alumni Council liaison in early 2021, where she plans to focus on improving communication between the Alumni Council and the Ed Team in an effort to build trust, transparency and collaboration through the amplification of all stakeholder voices. Bains and her sister, Sureena Thiara, created Manseena Orchards when they took over operations of their parents’ farm where they grow walnuts and prunes. She is also in a partnership with her parents and sister in Far Horizon Crop Insurance, a family business her parents established in 1986 when the crop insurance program was just beginning to roll out for specialty crops in California. She is also a partner in Four Leaf Farms, a new partnership, among both family and friends, where they grow almonds and walnuts. Days are quite varied for Bains due to work, volunteer activities and personal life, but the constants in her days include reading through a few newspapers and starting the New York Times Spelling Bee in the morning, which she tries to finish every night with a perfect score. Depending on the season and day, she travels to Yuba City to her family’s office, where she regularly sees her sister and her parents, who are in their 80s, but still in the office every day. “While the four of us together don’t always make for the most productive work environment, we do have a good time and I am grateful that as a family we have all committed to meeting each other where we are in order

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ALUMNI COUNCIL UPDATE to maintain a healthy work/family balance,” said Bains. “My parents deserve a great deal of credit for starting succession planning early so that we all had the time and space to grow into our roles. They are certainly still involved—but they have done an amazing job stepping aside and making room for us.”

Sandy Fiack Class 29 Liaison Agriculture Industry Association Specialist, Zenith Insurance Company Glenn

Bains shared that her friendships from the program are the most important things that she carries with her from Ag Leadership, even communicating daily with some of them. She also takes our mission “we grow leaders who make a difference” seriously. She noted that the program opened the door for her to participate on boards and commissions at the local and state levels and she sees those responsibilities as a privilege, and borrows a phrase from Hamilton, saying “To be in the room where things happen, I feel it is incumbent upon me to acknowledge who is not in the room, to examine what difference we are trying to make and for who.” This, for Bains, opens up the opportunity to think beyond intent and concentrate on impact.

As the liaison for Class 29, Sandy Fiack always makes sure her updates are both informative and entertaining for her fellow classmates. She loves the messages she gets back and enjoys keeping those connections alive.

Going through the program, Bains learned that her personality is such that she is most satisfied if she is in a near constant state of learning and processing, but understands that is not how everyone else engages in knowledge. While she genuinely enjoys learning from other people who can make her aware of her blindspots, she knows that for some, this is not a comfortable place to be. So, in her daily interactions she is mindful of that and tries to simply consider where their point of view came from in an effort to plant a seed of curiosity. As the Ed Team liaison, Bains knows that working with the team to keep our program and organization relevant is critical and she hopes to hear from our AC on needs related to continued leadership learning. She shares that while as fellows we all walk away from our program inspired, encouraged and motivated to make change, we also go back to deeply entrenched systems that are not always amenable to change. Bains believes that a way to combat this challenge is to create a support system for alumni to turn to when they are in the trenches and it feels uncomfortable to be the outlier. In addition, she thinks it is incumbent upon the Ed Team liaisons to capture what CALP/CALF is doing in respect to learning so she can share that information with the AC so they can convey to the alumni the goings on at that level. Developing this two-way communication from alumni to foundation and foundation to alumni will allow for useful feedback, build trust and ensure that our program remains authentic and transparent. She encourages alumni to reach out to her however they feel comfortable, always promising to keep the conversations confidential, unless otherwise agreed upon. She notes that our curriculum has seen a lot of changes and those changes will continue to happen, a topic that can create uncertainty for some. If she can create better understanding through dialogue to ensure that our alumni do not feel left behind or left out, then she will consider her impact in this new role a success.

Fiack’s husband farms rice and walnuts and they have three young kids. When she is not on the road for an ag association meeting, conference or farm show, she works from home. The Fiacks are early risers and usually have kids bathed and dressed, breakfast completed, homework done, kitchen cleaned, animals fed and lunches packed by 7:30 a.m.! Since the pandemic began, she finds herself on the computer, talking on the phone or attending virtual meetings. However busy she gets, she tries to make time for a daily nature walk and fresh air and to make healthy meals for her family. Sandy says the connections made with other graduates from the Ag Leadership fellowship is something that stays with her every day. The connections happen all the time—whether seeing one of her classmates post a family picture on Facebook, running into someone hundreds of miles away from home at a gas station, getting a birthday call or text or bumping into (or virtually seeing) someone at a meeting. All of these moments bring joy and meaning to her life and work. She says the fellowship with classmates and alumni is like having a tightly connected family with similar goals and lifelong friendships. In the program she learned to consider problems and solutions from alternative perspectives. She notes that many people feel justified in their opinion and it is important they feel heard. Also, the skills gained as a presiding fellow really resonated with her and she still focuses on thinking through questions for speakers, ways to engage the audience, sending thank you notes, making everyone feel comfortable and keeping things running smoothly as valuable lifelong skills. She remembers that her class spent nearly a whole day together sitting on a small airplane waiting to go to the Gobi Desert, when they had to cancel their plans because of a wind and sand storm. Instead of their original plans, they rode in a bus off the main highway in Mongolia for an impromptu stop at a small camp of nomads outside of Ulaanbaatar. They invited the class into a “gher” (a traditional round tent-like dwelling) to share some traditional food (cheese curds and donut holes) and showed them their Mongul ponies and cashmere goats. She recalls their astonishment at the number of goats one of the fellows shared they had on their commercial farm, and being amazed at the dried grass they fed them bundled together with string—very different than the bales of alfalfa hay produced at Creighton Farm in Kern County. She says that although their spirits had been crushed, they went from sheer disappointment to having one of the most memorable experiences of their international seminar! Fiack’s favorite part of being class liaison is that it keeps her connected with people. The role helps her to make it a priority to regularly reach out, continued on page 6 reconnect and stay updated about what is happening in everyone’s lives.

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ALUMNI COUNCIL UPDATE Julie Morris Class 33 Liaison Founder and Co-Owner, T.O. Cattle Company San Juan Bautista

Danny Merkley Class 19 Liaison Director, Water Resources, California Farm Bureau Federation Sacramento As liaison for Class 19, Danny Merkley keeps his fellow classmates up-to-date on events and news from the foundation. In his role with the California Farm Bureau, Merkley spends much of his time reading, analyzing, listening and talking to members, legislators and regulators. As the water lobbyist for an organization as large and diverse as the California Farm Bureau, he is constantly balancing the priorities of their diverse membership, which can be particularly challenging as it relates to water issues. He monitors daily the activities of the California Legislature and regulatory agencies, so it is key that he knows what legislation has been introduced, amended, scheduled for a committee hearing or a floor vote. He notes that it is especially challenging to stay abreast of what regulatory agencies and their staff are coming up with as he works to advocate before the Legislature and regulatory agencies on behalf of California’s farmers and ranchers. Merkley is reminded of his Ag Leadership experience daily, as he recalls the importance of hearing, understanding and working with others. This is especially true when their thinking or perspective is so different than yours that your first instinct is to push back because they must be wrong. He says that listening skills and understanding someone’s perspective, even or especially, when it is very different than yours is something that he learned in the program that he tries to help others work through in his actions. He says that Class 19 felt a strong bond that still lasts today. Despite day-to-day lives being insanely busy, whether it be jobs, businesses or family, they work to remain connected. He notes that Class 19 was special because they had a tremendous balance between women and men, more women than any other class before them, and ages that ranged from 20s to 50s.

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Merkley enjoys being a class liaison because it helps him to connect with his classmates from more than 30 years ago. Helping to keep them connected makes him feel good and keeps him in the role.

HORIZONS MAGAZINE SPRING 2021

As the Class 33 liaison, Julie Morris serves as the bridge for her class and the foundation, ensuring everyone is kept up-to-date on the latest news. She and her family manage rangelands on the Central Coast and produce Morris Grassfed Beef, which they directmarket throughout California. For Morris, every day is different. Depending on the season, she is either packing boxes for shipping, working in the office on administrative duties, balancing accounting and/or marketing tasks, planning events or preparing their on-ranch Airbnb for guests. She and her husband work as a team. Joe does most of the field operations with the cattle and horses, as well as working with butchers to process their beef. She handles everything else. “It’s Joe’s job to get the beef to our delivery spots, and it’s my job to get the customers there,” said Morris. Morris says Ag Leadership was a game-changer for her. She has a degree in journalism from San Diego State University and worked as a journalist for the first 10 years she lived in San Benito County. After their children were born, she stayed home with them for a few years and began transitioning to being more involved on the ranch. When their youngest child started school, Morris decided not to return to journalism and instead focused solely on their business. People had been telling her husband for years that he should apply to Ag Leadership but he always thought he was too busy. When she looked into the program, she said, “Well, if you’re not going to apply, I am!” For their family, it was perfect timing. Jack, their youngest, had started school and Julie was ready to devote more time to working on the ranch. Ag Leadership helped her jump into the industry and introduced her to many wonderful people and mentors. Julie notes that Class 33 was very diverse, with members who worked in agriculture, for the EPA and the UFW. Even though they came with varied viewpoints, their discussions were always respectful and they formed strong friendships. The program’s daily influence on her is in remembering that we all have more in common than we realize and we can work together to achieve outcomes that benefit everyone. “It’s our job, as agriculture leaders, to be involved in our communities and to build those bridges between rural and urban populations,” said Morris. A lecture by Leon Panetta has stayed with Morris through the years. She remembers him saying that to get things done, you have to work in the “gray areas”—nothing is black and white. Watching the divisive politics of the last four years, she has tried to remember that. As much as she may disagree with someone, she comes back to the “gray area” and tries to focus on what they can agree upon. We all want safe, healthy and thriving communities. How do we work toward those outcomes? She says informing people with balanced and factual information is one of the most important things ag leaders can do because wellinformed people are able to make better decisions. For Julie, being class liaison is a great way to stay connected. Since Ag Leadership was such an influential and positive two years of her life, she likes to remain supportive of the program. She remembers that when she and her classmates were accepted into the program, they all promised to give back. Helping her class stay involved and nudging them to contribute every year is her way of doing that.


ALUMNI COUNCIL UPDATE Sal Parra (46) Alumni Council Education Team Liaison Farm Manager, Burford Ranch Partner, Coyula Farms San Joaquin Sal Parra serves as one of the Alumni Council’s liaisons to the Ed Team, made up of representatives of the foundation’s partner universities. As a liaison, he brings ideas and feedback from the alumni to the ed team, as they consider opportunities to build upon the curriculum’s foundational principles and learning objectives. Parra’s daily life keeps him on the road frequently. As a farm manager, he checks on a geographically scattered 12,000 acres made up of 11 crops and also keeps up on his family farm’s 1,000 acres of almonds, pistachios, alfalfa hay and wheat. His responsibilities are familiar to most farmers: irrigation, fertility, pest control and management of equipment and labor. When he isn’t on the road, he is working from his home office, managing regulatory documents and company budgets and finances. At home, he loves to spend time with his wife, Ramona, and 9-year-old daughter, Linda. He shared they had recently created a “fun jar” where they add different activities they can all do together every evening after dinner. They mix the jar and draw a strip. They have sung karaoke, made art with materials from their yard and taken bike rides. Parra credits the program with teaching him to love and respect all humans. He knows his decisions and actions play a big role in people’s livelihoods, so he always tries to lead with love for his fellow brothers and sisters. “The program really helped me grow as an individual by becoming more assertive and recognizing my role as a leader,” said Parra. “I use that assertiveness every day to positively impact our company as well as my own family.” Regularly, Parra tries to instill the principal of open-mindedness in those around him. Whether it be at work or with family, he recognizes that it is a quality that helped him as he went through the program and continues to help him every day with problemsolving, which is something he encourages others to experience. Parra recognizes that in his role as a liaison to the Ed Team, it is important to provide relevant and current information and feedback in both directions. This is important to him because it helps the Ag Leadership Program to continue to evolve in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing world, while staying true to its foundational core of leadership from the inside out. He has found that the best interactions come from meaningful conversations with alumni. At times, those conversations can initiate with a text. While he finds it best to connect via a phone call as much as possible, he encourages alumni to reach out through whichever form they are most comfortable.

Bill Van Skike (32) Alumni Council Board Liaison Foreign Asset Manager, Wegis & Young Bakersfield For the past three years, Bill Van Skike has served on the Ag Leadership Foundation’s board, and for a decade he’s been a leader on the Alumni Council, shepherding that committee through various changes and updates. In his daily life, Van Skike spends time working on various endeavors related to energy and production agriculture in the United States and a few African nations, specifically in Algeria and as a director to Plexus Mozambique and a consultant to Plexus Uganda. His role in these countries is to help growers improve their practices to better sustain their operations, the majority of which are subsistence farms. With his support, the goal is to help them sustain cash crops, provide jobs in their communities and build healthier lifestyle choices. As an energy consultant for A-C Electric Company, he provides guidance related to commercial and industrial solar projects in California and is also looking into solar projects in various African countries, which will assist farms in running water wells and machinery to make their farms more productive. Van Skike loves experiencing other cultures and helping people learn to help themselves when they are malnourished, underfed and under pressure to do more with less. “California agriculture isn’t just the commodities we produce and technology we create, it’s the dissemination of that knowledge around the world—and that’s exciting,” said Van Skike. From his Ag Leadership fellowship, Van Skike learned the importance of being present when having a conversation, be it virtual or in-person. When he’s in another country, he works hard to listen and hear from the other person’s perspective, treating people and their cultures with respect. This opens up meaningful dialogues and allows him to encourage significant change that helps his partners in these regions. He has learned the importance of stepping into an understanding of the view, perspective and life of the other person in order to get to a meaningful impact for both. This focus on communications, slowing down to make sure the words are heard as intended (especially when interpreters are involved) so that he’s conscious of continuously checking in to make sure there’s understanding both ways during the conversation, has been a critical tool he learned from the program. Van Skike’s continued engagement in the AC stems from his love of the foundation, and the enjoyment he gets from working with other alumni to bring great new candidates into the program and promoting and encouraging continuous, lifelong learning among alumni. He’s relied on regional directors to provide the pulse and also to disseminate information back to the regions. He notes that it is important that alumni feel they’ve been heard and understood. He takes that responsibility very seriously and likes to connect in whichever methods they prefer, be it text, e-mail or phone. As a member of the strategic planning steering committee, Van Skike is delighted to keep engaged in Ag Leadership, saying he can’t wait to see what we do in the next 50 years!

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ALUMNI COUNCIL UPDATE

Steve Dodge (49) Chair, Alumni Council Co-Founder and CEO, Acuity Agriculture San Francisco and Ventura

Heather Mulholland (44) Vice Chair, Alumni Council Chief Operating Officer, Mulholland Citrus Orange Cove

This February, Steve Dodge was elected to lead the AC as its chair. In that role, he will lead the AC during and post strategic planning while shepherding the council through next steps related to meeting the alumni engagement goals in that plan.

Heather Mulholland was elected in February to serve on the AC as its vice chair. In that role, she will support the chair, as well as the regional directors, in their efforts to engage alumni throughout the state.

Dodge generally starts his day with an hourlong open-water swim in the San Francisco Bay, followed by a walk in Golden Gate Park with his fiancé and dog, before getting a jump on his work day. As CEO of Acuity Agriculture, which builds ranch monitoring systems for farmers - including soil moisture sensors, inline irrigation and climate sensors - he spends time checking in with team members and reaching out to partners, investors and different customers every day. When he reflects on the program’s impact on his life, he shares that reading “Leadership and Self-Deception” made a large impression. He leans on its teachings every day, and remembers not to judge a person based on their reaction to something, or how they hold themselves. He learned to always be thoughtful for every situation you find yourself in, and to slow down and think before you act and speak. “People have a number of things affecting them that influence their daily actions and ‘Leadership and Self-Deception’ does a great job of breaking down how to connect and be productive when it’s hard,” said Dodge. Dodge also appreciated Grace Flannery’s presentation on power and the power cycle—helping him understand more about how power is derived. He has now incorporated those learnings into education and team building with his sales representatives. “Understanding where your power comes from helps you to become a better leader and problem solver,” said Dodge. Becoming a member of the AC in 2020 opened Dodge’s eyes to all the facets of his region and its expansive agricultural crops. He enjoys getting perspective from people who were in earlier classes, and has learned a lot about the history of Sonoma and Napa agriculture by connecting with those alumni. In his new role as AC chair, Dodge is looking forward to bringing positive energy to the team and helping to facilitate awareness and execution of the vision of the program. Dodge loves to get behind a solid team and push their ideas forward, helping them come to fruition. He is excited about the team we’ve created, both on the AC and the staff. Alumni are welcome to contact him at any time to share ideas and ask questions.

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As the chief operating officer of Mulholland Citrus, her days are constantly filled with new challenges and excitement. She starts each morning loading up her dogs, who join her in the office, and taking her daughter to preschool. At work her role is broad—spending time both in the field and the office. She practices servant leadership with her team and through service on industry and community boards and committees, including Ag Leadership, Western Growers and the Boys & Girls Club. She also enjoys a fun family life with lots of time spent in the mountains, enjoying the outdoors, paddle boarding, skiing with her daughter and more. Mulholland is forever grateful for her Ag Leadership experience, saying she would not be in the place she is today without the lessons learned in the program. “I grew immensely as a person through the experience,” said Mulholland. “The tools gained in Ag Leadership help me to be self-reflective, cognizant of my emotional intelligence and flexible in navigating change. The program also fostered a strong dedication to servant leadership and a passion for lifelong learning that touches all aspects of my life.” Mulholland is especially grateful for the friendships made with classmates who have become some of her closest friends and most trusted advisors. She knows she can always look to them for honest feedback. She carries with her the lesson, which she gained from the program, of seeking to understand before seeking to be understood. She tries to practice that daily in her personal and professional life. This awareness resonated with her so much that she and her husband incorporated the principle into their wedding vows.


ALUMNI COUNCIL UPDATE Mulholland joined the AC as Region 6 director in 2019, and she was delighted to work with the very passionate and involved alumni in that region. She notes that many in the alumni network have mentored her, and she has learned from their leadership styles and paths. She appreciates, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, that there is great connectivity with the regional directors via monthly Zoom calls. In her new role as vice chair, she is looking forward to furthering connections with alumni and is excited to work with the CALF staff and regional directors to serve the alumni community.

“The energy that Steve Dodge brings in his role as Alumni Council chair, combined with the dedication and talents of the members of the Alumni Council, make me confident that the connectivity within our alumni community will continue to strengthen,” said Mulholland. She encourages alumni to reach out to her any time, via phone, text or e-mail.

Find contact information for Alumni Council leadership at AgLeaders.org

SHOP CALF MERCHANDISE Shop for CALF merchandise at https://agleaders.store

Although we cannot gather to celebrate Ag Leadership’s 50th anniversary, you can still show your support by purchasing CALF “swag” commemorating the program’s milestone. Customize hats, shirts, bags and more by adding your class number, the special 50th anniversary edition logo or the regular Ag Leadership logo to any item. The foundation will receive a percentage of all sales.

19 SPRING 2021 HORIZONS MAGAZINE


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

RECOMMENDED BY... WE ASKED THE AG LEADERSHIP NETWORK TO GIVE US THEIR TOP PICKS. HERE’S WHAT THEY SHARED. WE HOPE YOU’LL READ A RECOMMENDED BOOK AND LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. SEND YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS TO

“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents“

LROBERTSON@AGLEADERS.ORG “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture” -By Wendell Berry Recommended by Bill Cramer (17) I found this book interesting because the thesis is a counterpoint to the rapid consolidation of agricultural enterprises that we have seen over the last 40 years. Over the course of my career, I have seen nearly all of the family farmers I knew when I started in the egg production business in California now gone; some planned for it, but many left through bankruptcy. The author looks at the new development of “agribusiness” from another perspective as he foresaw the tremendous amount of disruption this new public policy would make on rural America. This book is well worth reading because it gives another view of a turning point in American rural history. This is not a book about agriculture alone, it is a book about how public policy can change our nation and rural America, for good or bad.

“The Ideal Team Player” -By Patrick M. Lencioni Recommended by Denise Junqueiro (42) We read this book as a team exercise for my department. It was valuable to explore how practicing the characteristics of being hungry, humble and smart can make us better professionals, people, teammates and contributors. I highly recommend the read to anyone who is part of or leading a team. It illustrates how our behaviors contribute more to our team cultures and successes than our skillsets.

20 HORIZONS MAGAZINE SPRING 2021

-By Isabel Wilkerson

“The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California”

Recommended by Karen B. Caplan CALF Board Member Frieda’s Specialty Produce President & CEO

-By Mark Arax Recommended by Garry Pearson (38)

Because February was National Black History

Mark Arax is from a family of Central Valley farmers. He is writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again. He does an excellent job of research and extensive interviews with the major players of water from Owens Valley, to Bakersfield, to Shasta. He touches on the significant water issues facing California and does offer some outstanding solutions. A great read for Ag Leadership fellows.

Month, I purposefully chose to read only books either by black authors or about black history. In the Ag Leadership spirit of lifelong learning, I have chosen books that challenged my thinking, expanded my mind and taught me new things. “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson was not only featured in Oprah’s Book Club, but was also a No. 1 New York Times best-seller. This book examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America, and three global

“Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country” -By Steve Roper Recommended by Garry Pearson (38) Steve Roper’s “Sierra High Route” is a vision born of over 40 years’ exploration, offering the reader the wilderness trek of a lifetime: a 105-mile traverse of the range, all of it above 9,000 feet, passing hundreds of lakes and skirting 14,000-foot peaks. The author did this trek with a compass and only USGS maps. If you are a hiker, this is one of the most challenging endurance hikes you will ever experience!

societal caste systems: in India, in Nazi Germany, and in (predominantly) white America. It provides critical understanding of many of the challenges our society faces today, and why the deaths of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor so enraged and were tipping points to the Black Lives Matter movement.


ALUMNI & FELLOWS NEWS Classes 1-9

John Salisbury (1) wrote an article for the

Kirk Gilkey (21) was reelected as vice president of the National Cotton Council.

Feb. 1 issue of Avila Beach Life titled, “A new generation of values, wine connoisseurs and e-commerce.”

Kevin Herman (21) was elected chair of the

Bob Dempel (4) wrote a commentary for the

Adan Ortega (23) was seated on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, representing San Fernando. He previously served as the city of Fullerton’s representative from February 2019 until February 2021.

Classes 10-19

David Guy (26), president of the Northern California Water Association, was part of the “Water Futures and Groundwater Trading” panel discussion at the February meeting of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

Jan. 24 issue of Anderson Valley Advertiser about his experience in the Ag Leadership Program and his friend and classmate Lloyd Stueve.

Jacquie Williams-Courtright (11) for many

years has hosted “The Valley Gardener,” a monthly show about local gardening topics that airs on Tri-Valley Community Television. She is the owner of Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore.

Audrey Tennis (12) has served as a Butte

County COVID-19 vaccine volunteer since December 2020.

Ted Sheely (13) was elected president of

Cotton Council International, the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) export promotion arm. He also serves as an NCC advisor, co-chair of the NCC Pink Bollworm Action Committee and chair of Supima.

Danny Merkley (19) wrote a commentary

in the March 17 issue of Ag Alert – “Dry year intensifies focus on California groundwater” – which focused on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the importance of groundwater.

Classes 20-29

Mark McKean (20) was elected to the National Cotton Council (NCC) board of directors. He was also reelected chair of the American Cotton Producers (ACP) of the NCC and will serve as ACP’s at-large director.

California Fresh Fruit Association board for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Devin Nunes (29) in January was awarded

the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, from President Trump.

Classes 30-39

Kris Beal (31) was the subject of a feature article about her life, background and career in the March 2021 issue of Central Coast Journal (pages 12-13). Steve McShane (33) received the 2020 Cal

Poly Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award. Cal Poly on Feb. 5 hosted a virtual celebration recognizing the 2020 honored alumni award recipients.

Carlo Bocardo (36) was reelected as a director for Cotton Council International, the National Cotton Council’s export promotion arm. Jon Munger (36) was featured in an April 2 California Rice Commission video, “Rice Season Underway” about the work Montna Farms is doing to prepare for a mid-April plant date.

Cannon Michael (39) was reelected chair of the of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board.

Rick Stark (39) retired in February after a 33-year career with Sun-Maid Growers of California, which included 15 years as a grower relations manager, as well as secretary of the company. In retirement, he’s looking forward to traveling, spending more time with his family, playing golf and woodworking. The Fresno County Farm Bureau in March recognized him as an outgoing director after serving 15 years on its board.

Classes 40-49

Correen Davis (45) was appointed to the

Western Canal Water District board of directors.

Casey Creamer (47) and John McKeon (47) were appointed to the Sustainable Pest

Management Work Group, a new group launched by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Department of Food and Agriculture to accelerate the systemwide adoption of safer, sustainable pest control practices.

Jill Scofield (47) participated in the virtual California Farm Day, hosted by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, which reached some 200 teachers and 5,000 students. Representing the California Beef Council, she talked about nutrients in beef. Jill Scofield (47) began her new role as director of communications and industry relations with the North American Blueberry Council and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council in April. Luis Calderon (49) was elected to the Ventura County Farm Bureau board of directors for the 2020-2021 term.

21 SPRING 2021 HORIZONS MAGAZINE


ALUMNI & FELLOWS NEWS Class 50

IN MEMORIAM

Lindsey Liebig (50) in February was elected to

Pete Fallini (10)

continue as chair of the board of the Herald Fire Protection District.

Multiple Classes

John Duarte’s (28) business, Duarte Nursery, provided COVID-19 vaccines to hundreds of its workers in March. In a Modesto Bee article, Duarte said the clinic came together after a phone call with CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

(Honorary Fellow).

Glenn Proctor (29), Jeff Bitter (32), Chris Carpenter (34) and Karen Ross (Honorary Fellow) were speakers during the virtual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in January.

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement board announced leadership changes: Dan Sutton (40) was reelected to serve as board chair. Chris Drew (47) and Jack Vessey (34) were elected to the board. Sharan Lanini (16) transitioned from board member to alternate member.

Casey Creamer (47) and Ian LeMay (48) wrote a guest commentary in the March 10 issue of the Lompoc Record – “Prioritize California’s farmworkers and provide them with COVID vaccines.”

Pete Fallini, of Santa Paula, passed away in February. He was a grower and manager of Farmers Irrigation Company, and active in the industry and his community. He was a devoted member and leader of the Rotary Club of Santa Paula, through which he received the Rotarian of the Year Award and 2006 Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award. As a member of Class 10, Pete traveled to China, Hong Kong and the Philippines for the international travel seminar in 1981, and to Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania for the national travel seminar in 1980.

Jerry O’Banion (27)

Jerry O’Banion passed away on Feb. 14, 2021 at the age of 74. His two passions in life were his family (wife, three children and grandchildren) and community service. Jerry earned a bachelor’s degree in general agriculture and a teaching credential in agricultural education in 1969, while also serving in the Army National Guard. He worked for UC Cooperative ExtensionFresno County and then returned to the family business in Dos Palos as part-owner of O’Banion Ranches. He served 10 years on the Dos Palos City Council and then 28 years on the Merced County Board of Supervisors. Jerry was a longtime supporter of local organizations. Upon retirement in 2018, he and his wife and children formed J & J O’Banion Ranch, farming almonds. With Class 27, he traveled to Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa in 1998.

Applications Open for Leopold Conservation Award NUMEROUS AG LEADERSHIP ALUM HAVE BEEN HONORED Applications are being accepted until July 15 for the California Leopold Conservation Award. The prestigious award honors California farmers, ranchers, foresters and other agricultural landowners who demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources. Award recipients receive a prize of $10,000. Nomination applications focus on the categories of conservation ethic, resilience, leadership and communication, innovation and adaptability, and ecological community. Apply at https://suscon.org/ project/leopold-conservation-award/. CALF is proud of the accomplishments of our alumni and their families, and we expect more alum will receive this outstanding recognition in the future. 2020 / Burroughs Family of Farms Rosie Burroughs (30) Benina Montes (36) 2018 / Lundberg Family Farms Jessica Lundberg (33)

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR LIFE? PLEASE SEND ANNOUNCEMENTS OR NEWS TO: lrobertson@agleaders.org

2017 / Thomson International, Inc. Jeff Thomson (3) 2016 / Lone Star Ranch Dina Moore (26) 2015 / Prather Ranch Jim Rickert (16) 2012 / Giacomazzi Dairy Dino Giacomazzi (36) 2011 / Koopmann Ranch Carissa Koopmann Rivers (44) 2010 / Montna Farms Nicole Van Vleck (26) 2009 / Red Rock Ranch John Diener (20) 2007 / Sierra Orchards Craig McNamara (28) 2006 / LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards Randall Lange (14) Bradford Lange (17)

22 HORIZONS MAGAZINE SPRING 2021


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