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Skaggs: Learn how to be an agribusiness leader at forum
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In 2003, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a life-changing leadership program called the Georgia Agri-Leaders Forum. And the funny thing is I almost didn’t do it.

I had been encouraged to participate in the Agri-Leaders Forum previously, but decided it was too much of commitment. I thought I knew enough about leadership. I had been through a county leadership program in a former position, so I passed the first time around.

In the fall of 2002, I was once again encouraged to participate in the Agri-Leaders Forum, so this time I completed the application and went in for an interview. Little did I know at the time that it would change many of my thoughts and perceptions on agriculture, community development and the qualities that make someone a leader.

Formed in 1990, the Georgia Agri-Leaders Forum Foundation helps prepare current and emerging agricultural leaders for even greater leadership roles. The foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation and is managed by a board of directors composed of key leaders from Georgia agriculture, agribusiness and forestry.

The foundation selects up to 25 men and women each year for participation in its leadership institutes. Individuals may be nominated or may apply directly to the foundation. Six institutes are held each year and each one focuses on different aspects of leadership. Four of the institutes are held in Georgia and two are held in other locations.

The institutes focus on key issues such as what makes a leader, exploring the policy and politics of agricultural and agribusiness, developing successful communication skills, investigating the challenge of change and what technologies and new practices are on the horizon, traveling to another agricultural intensive state to see what challenges and opportunities they face, and how to put leadership skills and training to use for the benefit of Georgia agriculture and Georgia’s varied communities.

More than 300 men and women have graduated from the program since its inception. Graduates have various backgrounds including farming, banking, academia, agribusiness, teaching, forestry and even accounting. Meeting others interested in agriculture and leadership from all over the state was one of the many highlights of the program.

The foundation currently is recruiting for the class of 2009, which starts in January. If you are involved or associated with Georgia agriculture, agribusiness or forestry, you could qualify to be a participant. If you or someone you know would be interested in applying for the 2009 Georgia Agri-Leaders Forum, contact Jimmy Hill at 800-473-6786, or visit www.the hillgroupinc.com.

Billy Skaggs is Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988.

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