UACES Facebook iLEADers Complete Year-long Leadership Development Program
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iLEADers Complete Year-long Leadership Development Program

by Lisa Davis - June 27, 2023

Photo collage of iLEAD II in northwest Arkansas

Members of iLEAD Cohort II wrapped up their year-long journey this month.

The iLEAD program is a development program for University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture (UADA) employees. iLEAD enhances interpersonal skills through virtual and in-person sessions, providing participants with knowledge, skills, and opportunities for growth.

We asked participants to share how the program impacted them. Here are their responses.

“The experiences I’ll take with me from my participation in iLead will serve me well in this career and in plenty of other aspects of life. It’s been eye opening to be able to step outside of myself and see how I operate in a leadership role. It’s been a good insight to be able to take stock and assess my own personality and the leadership styles and conflict resolution approaches that I tend to default to. Getting to see that in other leaders throughout our various tours around the Division has given me a new perspective about the diverse personalities and leadership traits across the organization.”  
Brad Runsick
Baxter County Extension Agent Staff Chair

“iLEAD was incredibly beneficial for getting us around the state and exposing participants to multiple aspects and people of UADA, with which we do not necessarily have day-to-day experience. It was surprising how much I learned about different components of our organization. iLEAD was helpful for me to better understand how CES and AES function and how that influences behaviors in ways that I had not fully grasped previously.”

Mary C. Savin
Professor of Microbial Ecology & Soil Biology
Assistant Director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station

“iLead provided a deep learning and immersion experience of the UA System as well as self and team building opportunities. The demonstration of the diversity of programs in the UA System and the network contacts gained will enhance my ability to effectively navigate and deliver relevant agricultural-based research, teaching and outreach.”

Renee Threlfall
Research Scientist, Food Science

“Throughout the iLEAD program, the learning I received concerning the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and what it represents was so profound. iLEAD Cohort II was the driving force in giving me a clearer vision of who I really am as a person. The True Colors model revealed that to me as well as the leadership development sessions I attended.

From learning in depth about the history of land grants to participating in the Excel program proved how unhealthy I was, however, so fun. Exploring greenhouses and research fields of soybeans, cotton, rice, fruit at NERREC, NEREC, Monticello, RREC, Lonoke and Fayetteville were already familiar to me since I have visited fields and programs in the past as an AES employee. Whereas Hope, AR provided a new twist to my learning regarding cattle and drones.

My children felt like they were part of the program as well while trying to hold the fort down at home for me (feeding the cat and overseeing my home while out of town).

I can say that since connecting with iLEAD Cohort II allowed me to establish new relationships with employees on the Extension and County side. Getting to know county agents and state office employees and the importance of their job roles was extremely rewarding. So proud to have been a part of this impactful program. While there will always be ways and more work for my personal improvement and development, I am confident in my ability to consistently motivate myself. Shout out to Lisa Davis and Julie Robinson for being the most fun, patient, compassionate, and giving people I know in making this happen for us. It is official, I am an iLead graduate!”

Dee Henderson
Administrative Support Supervisor
Rice Research and Extension Center

“I would say the iLead Cohort II changed my viewpoint and understanding of how the research, education, and extension arm all interact. For myself, I believe we still do not have a good system to connect our resources, but I see that all parts of the puzzle want to be included. If we can just find a better way to provide uniformity it would be an even better organization. I would encourage people to be a part of this program because the experience is first class.” 

Matthew J. Davis
Jackson County Extension Agent-Staff Chair

“What words cannot express how much I am thankful to participate in iLead! I am impressed with our facilitators and the organization of the program. I am sure next time will be great, but seeing how you can improve on the best is hard! I hope it will be the best for them, too! I enjoyed each member I got to know and worked with through the program, and I hope we have a lifetime connection. Thank you!”

Lisa L. Barnes
Administrative Specialist III
Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science

“I think that iLead affected me the most in that I was able to see more of what is going on in the division as a whole instead of just the county extension side. Having honest conversations with colleagues about the issues we face most in the day to day and coming up with solutions. Overall, it was a good way to just get back to the basics and discover more about what I see in the future for my career.”

Nicole Nichols
Saline County Extension Agent-Agriculture

"Over the year, iLead has widened my eyes on what UA extension and research really does! Especially the research side since I am an FCS extension agent. I did not realize how many varieties of berries and rice the UA creates. I also was able to make new connections across the division that can also help me in future programming I have in the county." 

Shaw nee Tichenor
Sebastian County Staff Chair - Family and Consumer Sciences 

For more information about the iLEAD program contact Dr. Julie Robinson, or Lisa Davis,