11/12/06 — Agricultural leadership program is coming to Wayne Community

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Agricultural leadership program is coming to Wayne Community

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 12, 2006 2:00 AM

Back in the day, local crop farmer Karl Best was considered somewhat of a trend-setter, his widow Lillie now says.

"These young farmers, they would stand back when Mr. Karl would try a new piece of equipment or something new," she said. "They would see how Mr. Karl did it the first year and then would follow him."

A prominent county farmer who served on many agricultural committees and received awards and recognitions for his services, it was Best's hope to pass along a love for the profession to up-and-coming farmers. After his death in 2003, his family established the Karl M. Best Agricultural Endowment at Wayne Community College, but were unsure how to designate use of the money.

Bryant Worley, a friend of Best's who had served with him on soil and conservation committees, is credited with the idea to create a leadership program at the college.

Bill Lamm, retired county extension agent in Lenoir and Wayne counties, a family friend for more than 50 years, was named to chair the committee for the leadership program.

"Historically, leadership hasn't been in agriculture at all levels like it has for other businesses," Lamm said. "We have got some of that, but we don't have a lot of that."

The program, slated to begin in January, will be spread out over three sessions, with a public forum planned for March.

It will be geared not only toward farmers but those who do business with farming enterprises, Lamm said.

"It could be anybody that sells chemicals to the farmers, anybody in agribusiness, even a banker who works with any aspect of farming," he said.

The emphasis will be on building leadership skills for those involved in agriculture, Lamm said.

"It won't be anything on how to fertilize cotton or keep insects off tobacco or peanuts," he said. "It will be leadership outside the farm itself. When you go to market something today, you have to compete with a big market, not just in Lenoir County or Wayne County. Nationwide, worldwide, it's all tied together."

There will be sessions on teambuilding, public speaking, sending the right message to clientele, marketing and conflict management.

"It's putting the whole picture together, and we want to do it all in these three sessions," Lamm said. "Farmers can't be away from home very long, so we'll break it up into several sessions."

The leadership program starts Jan. 24 with a two-day event at the Eastern 4-H Center in Tyrrell County. The group will leave from Wayne Community that morning and return the next afternoon. Among the speakers will be Lee Smith, Wayne County manager, discussing "Agriculture's Involvement in Wayne County's Future."

Other topics will focus on agriculture issues, globalization, and demographic and economic shifts in the field at the state and county levels.

On Feb. 8, a one-day session will be held at Wayne Community covering public speaking, dealing with elected officials and political issues, and public issues. Featured lunch speaker will be Dr. Johnny Wynn, dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.

Steve Troxler, N.C. commissioner of agriculture, will speak during the Feb. 15 workshop.

In March, a public forum is being organized on "The Role Agriculture and Agri-Business Plays in Wayne County." The date is to be announced.

Lamm said the hope is to have between 20 and 30 to participate in the leadership program. The cost is $50 per person. Deadline for enrollment is Nov. 17.

Mrs. Best said she believes the program is a fitting tribute to her late husband.

"Karl and I watched Wayne Community College grow from the time it started as a small college," she said. "Many times he would make remarks about whether agriculture was involved in that.

"This is what he wanted in young people's lives. He was pulled to help keep young farmers active in the county. I think he would be happy. He's looking down on this, probably saying, 'Well done.'"

For more information on the leadership program, call 735-5151, ext. 246.