Posted on August 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM by Iowa Corn
Gene Lucht, Iowa Farmer Today
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Josh Lammert didn’t expect to be watching cucumbers being harvested or congressmen discussing agriculture when he came back to the family farm near Treynor.
But, those are a few of the activities Lammert and his fellow members of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) I-LEAD class participated in during a recent trip to the East coast.
|Many of the I-LEAD Class VI members were intrigued by the cucumber harvesting process.
As with many aspects of I-LEAD, it was an eye-opening experience.
“I really think it helped give me a big-picture look at agriculture,” explains Mark Kenney, a farmer from Ankeny, who was among many I-LEAD members who peppered Maryland farmers about just how they grew crops, such as cucumbers and tomatoes.
I-LEAD is a leadership program developed by the ICGA with the goal of educating young people in agriculture, both on and off the farm.
Participants include farmers, as well as people involved in agribusiness, government and other related fields. ICGA officials say the hope is to help develop the next generation of rural leaders.
Other ag groups have their own young leader programs, but the ICGA’s is fairly extensive.
The 21 members of this group have spent two years meeting together. They traveled to China and to Washington, D.C. They met with political and industry leaders.
Throw in the Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team (CAT), and it’s clear ICGA leaders have decided encouraging and training future leaders is a priority.
Members of CAT joined the I-LEAD team on this trip to Washington. The CAT group includes 18 college students from schools across the state.
But, Lammert and Kenney say the trips and the programs are not the only important aspects of such programs.
“I think the connections and relationships are important,” Lammert says, referring to his fellow I-LEAD members.
And, that is part of the idea of I-LEAD as well, ICGA leaders say.
It offers potential young ag leaders a chance to meet and get to know each other, to develop those relationships, which could advance their careers but which also could benefit agriculture in Iowa.
With that in mind, the group traveled together to Washington recently and attended the National Corn Growers Association meetings at Corn Congress.
But, it also visited several farms and met with the Iowa congressional delegation and with USDA officials.
Their trip also included stops at the D.C. Central Kitchen, an innovative program that keeps some food from restaurants from going to waste and supplements it with locally grown foods and other items to feed people at various shelters and schools.
It also trains jobless people in the area for work in the food-service industry.
“This is not a charity. It’s a business,” Alex Moore, director of development and communications for D.C. Central Kitchen told the group.
|Members of the I-LEAD Class VI
who traveled to Washington D.C
|Member of CAT who traveled to Washington D.C.