New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher helped kick-off the tenth New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program class on November 16 when he spoke at the group’s seminar during the New Jersey Farm Bureau Convention at the Westin Hotel in Plainsboro, which focused on communications and public speaking training.

The program is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and has had more than 190 graduates since its inception.  Participants are provided with educational programming geared toward individuals involved in farming and agribusiness to help them become informed, articulate leaders.  A focus is placed on the following skills: writing, public speaking, marketing, interpersonal communication, conflict resolution and negotiation, business management, and decision making.

During the two-year cycle, class members establish an extensive agricultural network throughout the state and gain a better understanding of the New Jersey agricultural infrastructure, state and federal government, agricultural economics and the effects of globalization on agriculture and the U.S. economy.

The New Jersey Agricultural Leadership Development Program is operated by the New Jersey Agricultural Society.  The program will consist of 10 seminars, a domestic agriculture study tour, Washington DC legislative tour and networking and outreach events with New Jersey’s agricultural industry.  The program’s director is Jennifer Matthews, a first-generation farmer and former coordinator of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County’s Master Gardener program.  Morris County farmer Kurt Alstede is the agriculture liaison.

The 10th Leadership Development Class consists of:

Tim Bourgeois – Pine Island Cranberry Co.
Chad Cherefko – USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service
Shawn Cutts – Cutts Brothers, LLC
David DeFrange – Copper Creek Landscape Management
Dawn Edmonds – Farm Credit East
Jacob Hunt – Windy Brow Farms
Adam Furlong – B.W. Furlong and Associates, Equine Veterinaries, P.A.
Ben Jorritsma – Ideal Farm and Garden Center
Mark Kiriluk – Farm Credit East
Jennifer LaMonaca – Sea Salt CSA/B and B Farms
Debbie Norz – Norz Hill Farm and Market, LLC
Sherri Paulding – USDA, Farm Service Agency
Rose Robson – Robson’s Farm, LLC
Jim Simon – Isles Urban Agriculture