INDIANAPOLIS -- The National FFA Organization announced today that Bill Fleet of Lititz, Pa., will become acting chief operating officer effective April 1, 2009.



National FFA Advisor and CEO Larry D. Case, Ed.D., shared the news with agricultural education state leaders and National FFA staff, saying, "Bill Fleet brings to FFA a wealth of experience in the agriculture industry and the agricultural education/FFA program. His work supporting the ambitious agenda of the National Council for Agricultural Education has given him a ready grasp of the challenges and opportunities faced by the profession. He's the right man at the right time."



Fleet retired in 2006 as vice president-North America sales for Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., Johnston, Iowa. At Pioneer, Fleet planned, organized and oversaw operating and capital budgets for nine sales markets for the North America sales organization. Fleet played a dual role leading the Pioneer North America seed sales organization and serving as director of sales and marketing effectiveness for the DuPont Agriculture and Nutrition Platform.



Prior to joining Pioneer in 1982, Fleet taught agricultural education for four years at the high school level and served as both FFA advisor and advisor for adult farmers in the Dover Area School District, Dover, Pa. As an agriculture teacher, he developed curriculum for Farm Management, Agronomy, Soil Management, Dairy Production and Animal Nutrition. Fleet also developed and implemented educational programs for adult farmers in the areas of Crop Production, Dairy Nutrition, Soil Management, Beef and Swine Management, Machinery Management and Enterprise Analysis.



Fleet received his Bachelor of Science degree from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa., with a major in Agricultural Science and a minor in Agronomy. He earned a Master of Science degree from the same institution with a major in Agricultural Education and a minor in Agronomy. Fleet received additional executive management education at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; University of Chicago Executive Education; and the Krannert School of Management, Purdue University.



Fleet replaces outgoing COO Douglas Loudenslager, who is scheduled to leave the organization March 31. Loudenslager, who has led the organization for nearly five years, announced his decision to step down earlier this month, saying the time was right for new leadership for the organization and that he would be pursuing new opportunities beyond FFA.



Fleet will guide the organization during the time required to conduct a national executive search for a full-time chief operating officer. During his tenure, Fleet will work with Dr. Case, the National FFA Board of Directors and the National FFA staff to address pressing challenges facing FFA on local, state and national levels. Focusing on staff development will be a priority.



"The power of an organization is in its people," says Fleet. "Managing a team is really about teaching and fully supporting their development."



The National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of 507,763 student members - all preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture - as part of 7,439 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The National FFA Organization changed to its present name in 1988, in recognition of the growth and diversity of agriculture and agricultural education. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.



SOURCE: National FFA.