The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association introduced the second class of up-and-coming agricultural industry leaders to participate in its Emerging Leader Development Program at its 69th Annual Convention in Naples.
The 2012-13 class members are Jonathan Allen of R.C. Hatton Inc., Nicholas Basore of TKM Bengard Farms, Ian Bessell of ABC Research Laboratories, Lee Ann Hinton Coleman of Hinton Farms Produce, Thomas Dalton of Farm Credit of Central Florida, Carleton Johns of Tater Farms, Jessica Kerstein of Lipman Produce, Amber Kosinsky of Wish Farms, Tom Mitchell of Riverfront Packing Co., Derek Orsenigo of Grower’s Management Inc. and Joby Sherrod of A. Duda & Sons.
The program is designed to develop leaders who are prepared with a depth of knowledge of the many issues facing agriculture. It seeks to provide them with the education and tools to become strong, effective advocates for Florida specialty crop agriculture.
The program also strengthens grassroots engagement in FFVA and other industry organizations.
FFVA launched the Emerging Leaders Development Program in 2011 with an inaugural class of 10. That group graduated at FFVA’s convention Sept. 20 and got to know and offer advice to Class 2. “We’re so pleased with our first year,” said Sonia Tighe, who leads the program as executive director of the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation. “The class members were extremely engaged from the very beginning and immersed themselves in each session. The next class also is an outstanding group, and we’re looking forward to the activities of the coming year.”
The yearlong program includes meetings with legislators in Tallahassee, seminars provided by FFVA staff members and other experts on current issues, tours of venues to study environmental issues and water management, and visits to specialty crop production areas.
The program has had many valuable components, class members said.
“The networking experience we’ve had with the people we’ve met, the speakers we’ve heard and within our group has been great,” said Rob Atchley of A. Duda & Sons. April Roe Porter said she is fortunate to have been a part of the program. “It’s been amazing to have the opportunity to go through a program like this — the education, the connections, the travel — that’s something so many young people in agriculture won’t get the chance to do,” she said.