Gray completes AgStar program, attends Young Leaders Conference
Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 8:00 pm
Matthew Gray of Union City was honored recently for completing the AgStar program.
AgStar is a leadership program designed for current and future agricultural leaders. The program included six sessions in which the participants covered subjects such as lobbying, media communication skills, issues facing agriculture and involvement in local government. One session included a two-day trip to the State Legislature in Nashville.
Gray received a graduation plaque from Joe McKinnon, of the Tennessee Farm Bureau, and Dr. Joey Mehlhorn, University of Tennessee at Martin professor, interim Gil Parker Chair of Excellence and director of Tennessee Governor’s School for Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Mehlhorn spoke to the graduates about the importance of being involved in their industry and community during the graduation banquet held in Jackson.
The Mission of AgStar is to empower agricultural producers and agri-business people with the leadership, technological, communication and policy skills to advance the agricultural industry and promote the quality of rural life. AgStar is open to anyone interested in the field of agriculture in the West Tennessee area and is sponsored primarily by the West Tennessee Leadership Development Corporation. Other sponsors include Farm Credit Services, The Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tennessee Farm Bureau, Tennessee Farmers Co-op, Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council, USDA Farm Service Agency and University of Tennessee Extension.
Gray was also among more than 400 people from across the state who attended the Tennessee Young Leaders Conference, an annual event that educates and equips leaders in cooperative and agricultural issues.
The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives and Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) sponsored the conference. The TCC, is an organization composed of a variety of cooperatives including farm electric, dairy, farm supply, telephone and tobacco co-ops as well as farm credit banks and Farm Bureau.
Other local attendees were Matthew and Sarah Dickinson.
The Young Leaders Conference brings couples and individuals together from rural communities to learn about cooperatives, share their views about agriculture and discuss current issues facing rural Americans. The theme of the conference, “Cooperatives: Building a Better Tennessee,” was also the theme of a video produced by the TCC last year in observance of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. The video was shown to kick off the conference on Friday night, followed by rousing entertainment by the YF&R Band.
TCC board member Keith Harrison, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative marketing, advertising and promotions coordinator, said delegates to the Young Leaders Conference are the future leaders of cooperatives across the state.
“It’s amazing how most of the attendees have connections to all the cooperatives that are part of TCC,” Harrison said. “And it’s important for these future leaders to be involved and trained to prepare them for their leadership roles when their turn comes. The networking among all the conference participants enhances cooperation in the long term.”
Those attending the 2013 conference attended sessions that ranged from media relations to building strong community and cooperative leadership. Mike Keith, the voice of the Tennessee Titans, was also a keynote speaker at the event. At lunch on the Saturday of the event, the TCC also presented a $1,000 contribution to the John Willis Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor Tom Purkey, longtime president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. The fund provides financial assistance to deserving college agriculture students in the state.
The 2014 conference will be held next February.
Published in The Messenger 4.9.13