The results are in and the conclusions provide proof that as each class graduates from the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Florida’s agricultural industry benefits. And the industry is just beginning to see the results. Upon completion of Class V, there are more than 130 alumni throughout the state representing all segments of Florida’s agriculture and natural resources. Not only are the alumni of this organization involved in the issues facing Florida, many of them are on the frontline. They are actively taking leadership roles and bringing about solutions to issues that shape Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and rural communities.
The results from the first official evaluation of the WLIANR, a 1999 thesis presented to the University of Florida’s Graduate School (“Evaluation of the Florida Leadership Program,” by Hannah S. F. Carter) indicates graduates of the WLIANR experience personal growth in the form of people skills, policy development, analytical and personal skills. The results were verified through interviews with the program graduate, spouse and the graduate’s associates.
For those who have supported this program, these results validate what they’ve known all along–the Florida Leadership Program for Agriculture and Natural Resources is vital to the future of Florida’s agriculture and natural resources industries.
This summary was prepared by
Scott Emerson, Editor Citrus and Vegetable Magazine Class III Graduate, WLIANR
Networking and coalition building
The response from graduates overwhelmingly credited networking as a major benefit of this program. Participation in this program allowed an opportunity for people in agriculture and natural resources based industries to interact with people in other industries.
The program aided the graduates in understanding themselves, their family, and the people with whom they work. The majority of graduates said they had developed better listening skills and felt more comfortable and confident talking to people, both one-on-one and in groups.
One-third of the graduates interviewed stated they are more active in the political process since their participation in the program. They felt they had a better knowledge of our political system and felt more comfortable working within the system.
Analytical and Personal Skills
Several graduates stated the program really opened their eyes to the issues that are not only affecting their industries, but also to issues that affect other industries as well. Graduates said they have increased their reading of newspapers, trade journals and use of the Internet and television to identify issues.
Desire to learn
All of the graduates interviewed stated this program provided them with the desire to continue to learn and develop. There is an increased involvement in trade and commodity organizations from graduates. A minor theme indicated graduates are able to find commonalities with individuals and use these commonalities to increase communication on their level.