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Lisa DavisProgram Associate-LeadershipPhone: 501-519-5472Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Lisa Davis - February 22, 2022
Wondering what iLEAD participants do? iLEAD is a developmental experience exploring
critical and emerging issues to help Division of Agriculture personnel become effective
iLEAD participants can increase their knowledge of the organization, build relationships,
and practice their leadership skills through a leadership service project. The latest
face-to-face seminar was held in Stuttgart and Lonoke, AR on February 17-18, 2022.
Here’s a synopsis of the session.
Rice Research and Extension Center
The iLEAD Cohort One was welcomed to the Rice Research and Extension Center (RREC) by Dr. Alton Johnson, RREC Director. He shared his career path to his new position,
information about RREC, and his leadership style. Johnson said he participated in
several leadership and management training programs which helped him develop a transformational
leadership style. One participant noted in the evaluation that it was a highlight
in the program to hear leaders in their respective roles talk about their leadership
Dr. Chris Henry, associate professor and water management engineer, spoke about global
and state water use and water management studies with rice. He said research indicates
that irrigation is not sustainable in Arkansas. The study showed, “If no action is
taken to address the groundwater supply gap, over 80% of the acreage, or 3.8 million
acres, projected for irrigation in the East Arkansas Region will be without (groundwater)
irrigation in 2050.”
Dr. Xueyan Sha, professor of plant rice and genetics, and Dr. Stan DeGuzman, assistant
professor and rice breeder, shared information about the Arkansas rice breeding program.
Sha said Arkansas ranks first among the six U.S. major rice-producing states, accounting
for approximately 45% of U.S. rice production. The UADA rice breeding program began
in 1980 and the objectives are to increase yields, improve cooking and processing
quality, and increase disease resistance.
“Breeding is a numbers game. About 4,500 crosses were made, selected, and advanced
in the last five years," he said.
Next, Dr. Yeshi Wamishe, extension plant pathologist, shared information about the
plant pathology extension programs for rice production. In her presentation, she talked
about how plant diseases are a real problem in rice. She said their focus is on applied
research and Extension education which includes education, field disease diagnosis,
and providing management strategies/options.
When sharing about her leadership style, she said she believes in leading by example
and noted “Nothing is about me; it is all about the job.”
Dr. Brad Watkins, professor agricultural economics, discussed Arkansas field crops
and values, farm sizes, farmland tenure, and cropland irrigation statistics. He said
Arkansas County had 157 1,000-plus acre farms in 2017. Also, in eastern Arkansas,
18% of operators were full owners of the land they farmed, 52% were part owners, and
30% were tenant farmers. One iLEAD participant said he was surprised by those statistics.
The iLEAD group toured the molecular biology lab guided by Virginia Boyett, program
associate III. She shared with the participants information about the process, equipment,
and format of data results.
Grant Beckwith, Arkansas County extension staff chair, provided details about the
2021 Arkansas County Extension Educational Outreach. A few highlights of the details include:
The last item of the day was a RREC tour led by Dr. Glenn Bathke, RREC assistant director.
iLEAD participants visited the greenhouse and toured the property.
Dabbs' Discovery Farm
Trent Dabbs, fourth-generation row-crop farmer, and Dr. Mike Daniels, an extension
professor in water quality, both discussed their leadership experiences and work with
various agriculture and conservation partners. Dabbs provided an overview of the farm
and their efforts to combat limited groundwater availability. Daniels discussed the
founding of Arkansas Discovery Farms and their work with the Arkansas Conservation Partnership.
When sharing information about his leadership style, Daniels said he tried to emulate
the characteristics of leaders he admired.
He said a leader once told him “Leadership is 80 percent showing up and being willing
Daniels said if you want to be a leader, find something to lead. It does not matter
what role you are in. Lee Riley, program associate, detailed how the edge-of-field
monitoring equipment works, and how samples and data are collected.
Lonoke Extension Center
Dr. Travis Faske, Lonoke Extension Center director, welcomed the group and shared
information about the Center. One of the participants noted that it was surprising
that Lonoke did not have any of its own farmland. Jodi Blackard, entomology and plant
pathology administrative coordinator, introduced staff and shared her career path
and information about the center. The group toured the Extension Center and visited
iLEAD members continue to learn about the research and educational programming that
benefits Arkansas citizens, expands agricultural sustainability and profitability,
promotes environmental stewardship, strengthens local and state economies, and ensures
safe and nutritious food supply.
The iLEAD program enhances interpersonal skills through virtual and in-person sessions,
providing participants with knowledge, skills, and opportunities for growth. For more
information about the iLEAD program contact Dr. Julie Robinson, email@example.com or Lisa Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org.