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ILEAD CLASS 7 GOES TO WASHINGTON D.C. page banner

ILEAD CLASS 7 GOES TO WASHINGTON D.C.

Posted on August 2, 2016 at 12:00 AM by Iowa Corn

Monday, July 18

The I-LEAD Class met up with members of the Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team (CAT).  CAT is made up of students pursuing degrees and careers in agriculture.  Having our two groups together provided a nice format for networking and cooperative learning. 

We started off with presentations and a Q&A session with Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and Dan Urnikis, the Industry Affairs Lead for Monsanto.  Novak spoke first and provided his thoughts on the opportunities and challenges corn growers are likely to experience in the coming years.  His discussion on national policy and the NCGA strategy plans were particularly interesting.  Later, Urniks discussed his role with Monsanto and how corn and farmers fit into the political and policy-making process.  It was especially interesting to hear Urniks talk about climate change and the carbon reduction benefits that corn growers not only currently provide, but also will continue to generate in the future.   

Following the presentations, we had an opportunity to grab a quick dinner before heading out on a nighttime bus tour of D.C. and the monuments.  Prior to the tour, we met up with corn leadership groups from Nebraska, Missouri, and Ohio for our tour.  The tour provided a nice opportunity to connect with groups from other states while seeing some spectacular sights.

Tuesday July 19    

Tuesday was a busy day for I-LEAD.  We joined with the Nebraska Corn group for a tour of the Delmarva region.  The Delmarva region sits between the Chesapeake Bay to its west and the Deleware Bay and Atlantic Ocean to its East.  The region has areas that are in three states with its name being formed from the letters of the states of Deleware, Maryland, and Virgina.  Our tour stops in the Delmarva region included: a crab and oyster operation; the Nagel Family Cucumber Operation, Kelly Bros Grading Station, and Vanderwende Creamery.  All of the stops on the tour were quite interesting; especially the stops at produce farms to see the mass production of vegetables.  We were lucky enough to see cucumbers being harvested from the field, which is quite a different process from harvesting field corn. That evening we went as a group to watch the Washington Nationals host the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It was an exciting game, and an enjoyable experience.  

 Wednesday, July 20

The morning began with a breakfast where I-LEAD members were able to meet and enjoy a great conversation with members of the ICGA staff and board members. Many utilized this time to learn more about their individual experiences with the Association as well as about how the lobbying process works. Those with previous lobbying experience were able to provide helpful tips and suggestions to aid in the delivery of our messages to the representatives and their respective staff members. The day proceeded with general congress sessions where new leadership was elected and a speaker presented on behalf of RepublicEn, a group which believes in more alternative energy use and policy. I-LEAD members spent the afternoon mixed in small groups with ICGA staffers and board members lobbying to non-corn state representatives and their staff. Though each group had their own experience, it was unanimous that all members walked away with a much better understanding of the lobbying process as well as the importance of their own stories. The evening was completed with Corn Fest, a social gathering, where all Corn Congress attendees could mingle and network.

Thursday, July 21

Once again began with a breakfast full of networking opportunities. Congress reconvened session with committee reports being given and awards being presented to those who will be stepping down from the organization after having been a crucial member for the National Corn Growers Association. Thursday afternoon, members of I-LEAD arranged for a meeting with Courtney Knupp, deputy director of international trade policy at the National Pork Producers Council, to learn more about the efforts of other agricultural groups and their work in Washington, D.C. To wrap up Corn Congress and our time in Washington, D.C., members of the I-LEAD class got the opportunity to spend the afternoon enjoying the D.C. area. Many visited a variety of museums where they were able to take in a great deal of information, even some pertaining to agriculture.

                All in all, members of I-LEAD were able to glean useful information from their Corn Congress experience. For many, this was the first time to the Del-Mar-Va region and seeing such different agricultural systems as well as first time lobbying. The Congress was a great experience and one in which all I-LEAD member were able to improve their leadership skills which will prove to be beneficial into the future.

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