On August 5th, alumni gathered for the final day of the annual meeting for 2017. The annual Business Meeting took place that morning and included reports on the WLI Fundraising Campaign, the next Alumni International trip, and other business.
During the Business Meeting, the Wedgworth Youth Leadership Institute traveled to experience the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Dr. Rod Clouser delivered his presentation after the Business Meeting, and the annual Awards Banquet was held that evening to honor all of this year’s recipients. Mr. Mike Joyner, Class I, presented the keynote address for the evening.
Treasurer Matt Webb (Class VII) reported that dues invoices were a little late getting out because of the transition of the association to a stand-alone entity. He sent out reminders in Q1 of this year. Response was very high – about 75% of the membership has paid dues. He attributed that to the fact that we launched an online payment option. In addition, there are now about 20 lifetime-dues payers. Matt said his goal for the coming year would be to streamline QuickBooks so that it will be more detailed to more clearly see where income is coming from and where expenses are going. He reported that a new bank account has been opened at Wells Fargo because there was a branch convenient to him in Madison. Matt presented the Profit & Loss statement and the balance sheet. He noted that we netted $6,200 after the 2016 annual meeting, and reported that after all bills are paid from this year’s annual meeting, we should net about $10,000 – due partly to the successful live auction.
Secretary Lisa Lochridge (Class VII) updated the group on the new website and its functionality. Ms. Amanda Taylor (Class VIII) reported that the old domain name is still out there, so we will purchase it and redirect visitors to the new site.
President Ray Royce (Class VII) said there are funds available to assist with alumni gatherings and receptions on an as-needed basis. The association is already supporting alumni receptions put on by FNGLA and FFVA at their annual meetings. He reminded the group about next year’s meeting and said we will try to schedule annual meeting at least 18 months notice so people can plan.
The idea for another round of fund-raising was introduced at 2015 annual meeting, with a fund-raising committee being formed at the 2016 meeting. Christy provided background about the first fund-raising initiative led by Dr. Gene Trotter. $1.25 million was raised and invested with the UF Foundation in 2004. With state matching, it created a total endowment of $2 million. The current endowment fund will allow for recruiting and retaining an agricultural leadership professor to direct WLI, and will provide for additional industry and alumni leadership programming. The committee set a goal of $1.5 million with 75% alumni participation. Fund-raising began in September 2016 and has continued during a “quiet phase.” Christy reported that to date the committee has been overwhelmingly successful, raising $1,535,000 from just six donors. That includes leveraged university matching incentives of $370,000. Given that success, the committee has decided to raise the goal to $2.5 million to provide another $100,000 a year to help with programming and to ensure that the director’s position can be filled by an ag professor. The committee is in the early stages of engaging various industry groups, and the alumni association board of directors has committed to 100 percent participation. Christy invited the group to provide ideas on how to engage the membership to encourage participation.
The 2018 Annual Meeting will take place July 26-28 at the Waldorf Astoria Bonnet Creek, which is in Central Florida on Disney property. Work is underway to pick the site for the 2019 meeting. The current board of directors has indicated they would like to keep the meeting BOD centrally located along the Interstate 4 corridor.
Dr. Hannah Carter reported that Class X just concluded Seminar VI, which means they’re halfway through their seminar experience. Oct. 2 will be the national trip. Domestically, they will travel to Colorado and Wyoming. The international trip will be to Scotland and Africa – most likely Swaziland and Mozambique. Graduation will take place at the 2018 annual meeting July 26-28.
The next alumni international trip is expected to be in the fall of 2018, with the destination to be determined. Dr. Hannah Carter also shared there will be a Women’s Ag Leadership Summit, and Mr. Elio Chiarelli is working on some CEO Mastermind-type programming that will roll out this fall.
Region 1 – Richard Schwab, Class VI, was elected as a new director!
Region 2 – Staci Braswell, Class VIII, reported that the region will help with the Nov. 18 WLI Tailgate on Nov. 18, and they’re planning an event in St. Augustine.
Region 3 – Tony Lopez, Class VIII, will continue as a director, and Marcie Downing, Class VIII, was elected as a new co-director!
Region 4 – The group set a gathering for Feb. 24 at Class VII members Lisa and Mick Lochridge’s house in Apopka, FL.
Region 5 – Susie Bishop, Class VIII, and Bob Conrad, Class IV, were re-elected as co-directors. The region will have a Dec. 5 event at The Watering Hole in Sebring, FL.
Region 6 – The group may have a family day in the southern part of the region.
Dr. Rod Clouser serves as a Professor and the Associate Chair for the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida. Dr. Clouser was also a recipient of this year’s Trotter Leadership Award. His presentation, “Your Choice: UMI,” made attendees consider their own understanding of key issues affecting our industries and where their decisions should fall for the future. Check our highlights from his presentation in this video:
Alumni Coordinator Ms. Valerie McKee coordinated this year’s Wedgworth Youth Leadership Institute! A total of 16 students, ranging in age from 5 to 16, traveled with WYLI to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
The 2017 WYLI participants included: Hannah Johnson, Katie Brantley, Tressa Fentress, Hadley Grow, Hillary Grow, Layla Lopez, Juliet Basore, Addison Ashley, Hannah Light, Benaiah Light, Matias Miller, Chase Sowcik, Carter Sowcik, Madelynn Harrison, and Lane Harrison.
Many, many thanks are due to this year’s chaperones: Mr. Tony Lopez (Class VIII), Mr. Joshua Light (Class X), and Mrs. Fawn Harrison (spouse, Class VII).
Mr. Mike Joyner graduated from the first Class of the Florida Leadership Program for Agriculture and Natural Resources. He currently serves as the Assistant Commissioner for FDACS. Mr. Joyner was our keynote speaker for the Awards Banquet. His keynote address led us through the historical leadership decisions of President Abraham Lincoln as well as Mr. Joyner’s very own leadership principles. Check out highlights from his presentation in this video:
A recipient of the Dr. Burl Long Award is someone that is connected to the Wedgworth Leadership Program and reflects the ideals that Dr. Long embodied and shared with participants of the program including: A sense that “speech without reflection is just chatter”, while embracing a thought process of thinking more deeply before speaking or acting. The recipient should also be an individual that’s life perspective or mission further developed during, or as a result of, the program, perhaps as a result of an “ah ha” moment.
For those who had the honor of knowing Dr. Burl Long, we all remember his soft southern Virginian twang, his good humor and his ability to sum up a thought or many thoughts into a simple, profound statement. This year’s award winner spent a good part of his spring utilizing thoughtful words as he engaged, listened and represented not only his organization, but his industry and agriculture in rallying against a piece of legislation that would be extremely detrimental to agriculture in the EAA.
Mr. Keith Wedgworth (Class VII) is the recipient of this year’s Dr. Burl Long Award.
The Honorary Director award honors someone who continuously gives back to the WLI in all areas. They strive to make the program better in all regards and selflessly volunteer their time and talents for the betterment of the program and it’s participants.
Staci Braswell Sims has done just this–from assisting in programming to serving in the UFLEF Foundation, the advisory council and the alumni association.
Mrs. Staci Braswell Sims (Class VIII) is the recipient of this year’s Honorary Director Award.
The Farm Credit Leadership Award is intended for alumni of this program who immediately “get to work” and who apply the principles of this program in their organizations, industries and communities. This year’s recipient has done just that. From seeing a need in his community for a new school—and working with a core group of dedicated individuals to start one. To becoming president of his organization and finally, to stepping up into a leadership role in this association and giving 110% to this volunteer position.
Mr. Matthew Webb (Class VII) is the recipient of this year’s Farm Credit Leadership Award.
The Eugene Trotter Leadership Award is intended to:
The first recipient of the Trotter Award holds the unique position in that he is one of the only common threads between all ten classes. An early supporter of the program, he answers the call at the beginning of each class and many class participants remember the stress that his “issues” and blue books elicited during the selection process.
Rodney L. Clouser is Professor and Associate Chair, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida. In 2015-16, he was also Interim Center Director of the IFAS (college) Mid Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka. He has been on the UF faculty since January 1981. From 1994-2004 Dr. Clouser served as one of five District Extension Directors in Florida and from 1996-2004 as Assistant Director – County Relations, Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Dr. Clouser received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Purdue University in 1979 and prior to joining the University of Florida faculty in 1981 served two years as the state economist in Indiana during the terms of Governors Bowen and Orr.
In Florida, Dr. Clouser has served as staff to Governor Bob Graham’s Taskforce on the “Future of Agriculture in Florida”, as well as advised state agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Community Affairs, Revenue and Commerce. Dr. Clouser is also a Senior Fellow with the Florida Association of Counties (FAC), serves as the University of Florida-IFAS representative to the State of Florida Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) and the Southern Program Leadership Committee on Community Resource Development (13 Southern states, Guam and Puerto Rico).
Dr. Clouser has been recognized during his career with several awards including the outstanding “Junior Faculty” recipient for IFAS, a “Superior Accomplishment Award” from the University of Florida, the Outstanding Public Issues Education Program Award from the Farm Foundation and the Outstanding Service Award from the Florida Small County Coalition.
The second recipient of the Trotter Award is Mr. Scottie Butler.
Scottie Butler retired at the end of September 2013 after 43 years as general counsel to the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. There, in addition serving Farm Bureau corporate and governance legal needs, he helped develop relationships with associations, coalitions and government agencies to address critical issues facing Florida’s agricultural industry.
He counts being association with the Wedgworth Leadership Institute one of the more fulfilling aspects of his career. Scottie, along with many other industry and association representatives took turns serving on the WLI advisory board. Early on Dr. Gene Trotter, the initial director of the program, asked Scottie to help set up a foundation to provide endowments for the program. The foundation (UF Leadership and Education Foundation) was established and a few years later qualified statutorily as a UF support foundation. Since the foundation’s start he has served on the foundation board as the State University System of Florida Board of Governors appointee.
Scottie was inducted in the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2014. Scottie grew up in Polk County and attend UF receiving a BSA in Agricultural economics and a JD in law. He had a private law practice in Lake Wales before joining Farm Bureau. He is married to his lovely wife, Sue, and they have one daughter and a son-in-law.