The inaugural Soybean Genesis Leaders Program hosted its fourth and final seminar in March in Aberdeen, South Dakota, to discuss the importance of leadership skills.
A collaboration between South Dakota Soybean and South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership, Inc. (SDARL), the new initiative was funded by South Dakota farmers through the soybean checkoff. It set out to educate and equip more than a dozen rising leaders in the state’s ag industry with a particular emphasis on the production, processing and marketing of soybeans.
SDARL CEO Don Norton was pleased with the overall results of the program upon its conclusion.
“We experienced a great deal of positive feedback from the people who were in the program,” said Norton. “Participants thought that the program was very beneficial to them personally and their growth as leaders.”
Norton described the Soybean Genesis Leaders Program curriculum as very much tailored to the individual. It invited participants to focus on specific aspects of their own leadership journey—networking, building knowledge and developing skills—over the course of four seminars.
The soybean-centric initiative was modeled after the much longer, more in-depth SDARL Program that spans 18 months and consists of a series of three-day sessions. “We focused on items essential for personal growth,” explained Norton.
The Soybean Genesis Leaders Program kicked off in January and covered themes such as the role of various organizations within the soybean industry, the legislative process, innovation and technology and leadership readiness.
It also rotated locations, incorporating site visits such as Aberdeen’s AGP soybean processing facility and Prairie Aquatech in Brookings, to give participants a firsthand look at various aspects of the soybean industry at work across the state.
The primary goal of the program was to ensure soybean producers were equipped and mobilized to continue shaping the future of agriculture.
“Agriculture needs leaders,” said Norton. “Our soybean organizations—the association and the research and promotion council on the state level—need board members. They need people to speak on behalf of the soybean industry and then move up into national positions and even international positions.”
“The United Soybean Board, American Soybean Association and Soybean Export Council—they all need board members, too,” he added. “And South Dakota needs to be at that table.”
“So the benefit of this program is future leadership for the soybean industry,” said Norton. “I think it builds the leadership capacity for all of agriculture in South Dakota. And that’s what we’re supposed to do.”