Northwest Minnesota variety trial

ASA Leadership College Helps Strengthen Ag Industry

Several Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) and Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) directors are better equipped to deal with members of the media, non-farmers, legislators and government officials to more effectively tell the story of agriculture after attending the 2015 ASA Leadership College, held Jan. 6 to Jan. 8 in St. Louis, Mo.

“Leadership College gives you the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of people in our industry and it helps us relearn things we may have pushed to the side,” said MSGA director Theresia Gillie, who farms in Kittson County. “And then it also gives us three or four things to concentrate on improving so we can better help the association.”

Theresia Gillie

Theresia Gillie

Soybean Leadership College provides opportunities for future and current soybean industry grower-leaders and state staff to learn how to engage soybean producers, consumers, legislators, government officials and media, to more effectively tell the story of agriculture.

The MSR&PC, through the checkoff, paid for 10 farmer leaders across both the MSGA and the MSR&PC to attend.

Gillie said the information she learned was invaluable because it reminded her that she needs to be open minded, something she says can be difficult for farmers who are constantly dealing with misinformation and half-truths.

“We had a media gal there, Kathleen Leighton, and she gave a really good talk about how we can have an influence with the media” Gillie said. “She reminded us that the media isn’t always positive, and that we need to do a better job in how we effectively relate what’s going on in agriculture without being defensive. There is so much misinformation out there in the media and it is important for us to tell our story.”

Leadership College also covered topics such as how to lead and effectively engage others to follow, achieving synergy with diversity and inclusion, networking and grain marketing with outlooks.

“Farmers need to remember that we are no different than someone in Minneapolis,” Gillie said. “Rural America needs to stand up. Just because we live in the country doesn’t mean we’re stupid. We are good leaders, strong business men and women and we need to make sure we are sharing the story of agriculture.”