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Feature   | Winter 2011

Follow our Leaders

Purdue leadership program paves the way
Kristy Penner in a black sweater
Christy Penner, a leader in organizations across campus, fielded multiple job offers fall semester. Both are completing the Leadership Development Certificate Program.

Christy Penner, an agricultural communications and agricultural economics major, appreciates coach Mark Tucker, whom she also has as a professor, for his overall support and counsel. “He’s very insightful, and I always ask for his advice on big decisions,” she said.

One Thing Leads to Another
Another benefit for students is the opportunity to attend a national leadership conference. Egger takes more than 50 students to an annual leaders conference sponsored by Agriculture Future of America, an organization that creates partnerships with community leaders, corporate representatives and educators to prepare the next generation of agricultural leaders. At the conference, students network with industry leaders and interview for jobs and internships.

Davis was among a small group of students selected for the AFA’s Student Advisory Team, which helps plan the conference and serves as ambassadors for the organization. Last summer he traveled throughout the country to plan for the conference and meet with potential sponsors.

Corporate Backers
Many of the AFA’s corporate partners also support the leadership program and its students.

“The LDCP can give students a leg up when competing for internships or for jobs after graduation,” Egger said.

Nick Koewler of Land O’Lakes Inc. couldn’t agree more. “Students who are a part of LDCP are ready to hit the ground running once on the job, whether an internship or full-time work,” said Koewler, who hires interns and new-graduate talent for corporate positions at Land O’Lakes and is a member of the LDCP Advisory Committee. “Students are exposed early in their college careers to professional development and training that will help them become leaders in the agriculture industry.”

Davis credits a summer 2009 internship with Pioneer Hi-Bred International for sharpening his problem-solving skills and also clarifying his long-term career path.

An LDCP trip to Pioneer’s facilities in Johnston, Iowa, paved the way for an internship with the company’s maize breeding program. “I give all the credit to the LDCP and the opportunities it provides,” he said. “I was able to use the skills I learned to initiate a conversation with a Pioneer representative and have a successful interview. It landed me an internship that was the experience of a lifetime.”

Success Breeds Success
Even though the program is only five years old, it has already become a national model for leadership development. Egger regularly receives requests from other institutions that want to develop a similar program. In 2008 the LDCP was named Outstanding Leadership Program of the Year by the Association of Leadership Educators.

For seniors like Davis and Penner, the experience provided them with skills to successfully transition to the next phase of their lives. “It’s a whole new chapter,” Penner said. “Another roadmap is unfolding.”

Contact Olivia Maddox


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