UACES Facebook A Short Blog Post about the September 2023 iLEAD Virtual Session
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A Short Blog Post about the September 2023 iLEAD Virtual Session

by Mike McGowan, Division Forester - October 9, 2023

Screenshot of iLEAD Cohort III

The arduous process of getting this herd of cats rounded up began at 9 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2023. We all exchanged our customary pleasantries, and Dr. Julie Robinson launched us into the topic of “The Cohort’s Core Values,” a lively discussion of the “iCARE, We Serve” values statement which was officially adopted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Integrity. Collaboration. Accountability. Relevance. Excellence. All these terms describe the model employee’s thoughts and actions as they deal with the public, and with one another. They serve as a blueprint, or a logic filter, through which we should screen our words and deeds, and of the image the Division would like to portray to general public, our desired brand.

Gratifyingly, we managed to avoid pillorying one another for our all-too-human failures to achieve such lofty goals.

The first session concluded, we all gleefully scampered for the restrooms and some more coffee before rejoining to listen to the esteemed Emily Smith as she attempted the impossible task of condensing the entirety of humankind’s exploration of personal values into a single hour and a half presentation, along with an audience participation section featuring some paperwork! Her efforts were valiant, and we all applaud her for the endeavor.

We briefly discussed the nature of value, and its origins. We contemplated the evolution of values as we age and become more conscious of our environment. Some even pondered the biological necessity of the way our values interact with those of the Division’s, as the Division and its employees form a symbiotic organism in order to achieve the goals of both parties.

Unfortunately, the dreaded hour of noon rolled around, and with great sorrow and rivers of tears, we departed company from one another, vowing to meet again in October in Jonesboro with tales of scientific breakthroughs and wild derring-dos before learning about the Division’s outreach and research capabilities in northeast Arkansas.

The next iLEAD session, set for Oct. 19-20, 2023, will take place at various locations in northeast Arkansas. To learn more information about the iLEAD program, please reach out to Julie Robinson at or Lisa Davis at