As I write this article, planting is in full swing across much of the country. As I go through the summer, I often find myself looking ahead to next year. I try to find areas I need to improve on in my business and look for things my clients can do to make their operations more successful. This type of forward thinking is what I enjoy most about working in agriculture. Planning for the future is always a constant task.

Over the past several years, many of my clients’ sons have come back to the family farm to start their own farming operations. This has been a great experience and joy for me as well. They bring great enthusiasm and desire to implement new technology to improve their farming operation. There is no doubt that we need more young people coming into agriculture.

In the crop consulting business, I often find myself thinking about the late George Jones’ song, “Who’s gonna fill their shoes.” Just like farmers need young people to one day succeed them in their business, crop consultants need to be training the next generation of ag professionals. As I have visited with many consultants across the country, a resounded theme becomes apparent. We need more young people to become interested in crop consulting. NAICC has been very involved in recruiting the next generation into agriculture. And now, NAICC is taking it one step further with the announcement of the NAICC Leadership Program.

The NAICC Leadership Program’s purpose is to help ensure agricultural sustainability by facilitating the growth of new leaders within NAICC and the crop and research consulting professions. Through this program, NAICC will be developing the leaders of tomorrow not only in the crop consulting industry but in agriculture as well. Program objectives include encouraging networking and rapport among ag professionals and preparing leaders to be an effective resource for policy makers and enforcement agencies in relation to agriculture.

The NAICC Leadership Program will be a three-part program. The first part will include two field visits to fellow NAICC members. This allows participants to engage in a mentoring process and learn from other consultants. The second part is the NAICC annual meeting. Program members will participate in various areas of the annual meeting including making a presentation in the plenary session and participating in committee meetings. The third part of the program focuses on promoting NAICC and the ag profession to policy makers. In this part, participants will go through leadership training, make Capitol Hill visits and attend the NAICC Crawfish Boil on the Hill. Funding for this program has been provided in part from FMC Corporation, AMVAC Chemical Company and the Foundation for Environmental Agriculture Education.

In my career, I have been very fortunate to have so many fellow consultants as well as numerous other ag professionals help me along the way. There is no doubt that experience is the best knowledge, and passing this knowledge onto the next generation is essential to the success of agriculture. Through programs such as the NAICC Leadership Program, it is my hope that the next generation of crop consultants will inherit the enthusiasm that we all have for our profession. The NAICC Leadership Program will help answer the question, “Who is gonna fill their shoes?”