Fresno State Launches New Agricultural Leadership Program

Fresno State’s Avery Culbertson Launches Solid Agricultural Leadership Program

 

By Lauren Dutra, Associate Editor

 

Dr. Avery Culbertson, who is passionate about agricultural leadership joined California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) in August, in a newly created position to develop an Ag leadership curriculum for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

Dr. Culbertson’s interest in Ag leadership was initially sparked by “being a product of National FFA Organization* (FFA). You have a lot of role models and influences around you. You start getting an idea of what Ag leadership is,” said Culbertson.

“After I got my degree in agricultural education and was looking for a job, I met with a colleague who said, ‘There are adult leadership programs around the country, and I want you to start one at New Mexico State University.’”

Having been trained by the California Agricultural Leadership Program, Culbertson was confident that she could successfully launch a program. “They really opened their arms to me,” she commented, “and provided resources. As that progressed, I started defining what leadership was.”

Culbertson asserted, “An agricultural leadership program is not only [about] understanding our industry, but understanding our customer. That became very important to me in and outside of the job. The only way that agriculture can lead in society is by understanding our stakeholders.”

Culbertson thinks it is critical not only to know how to lead—having the skill set to be a great speaker or to be knowledgeable in different fields,” she explained, “we also need to know who we are leading. As I’ve been discussing with my classes right now, leadership is a matter of taking a group of people and accomplishing a collective goal,” she said.


*National FFA Organization (FFA), formerly known as Future Farmers of America, helps students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

SAGE Welcomes Poppy Davis as New Program Director, One of Our Own

SAGE’s New Program Director Poppy Davis to Expand Organization’s Capacity for Cultivating Urban-Edge Agricultural Places

Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) welcomes Poppy Davis as Program Director to expand the organization’s capacity and develop and implement strategies for revitalizing urban-edge agricultural places that sustain and define cities. SAGE is a lean, entrepreneurial nonprofit organization headed by Sibella Kraus, recipient of the 2014 Growing Green Regional Food Leader Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Sibella Kraus, SAGE President
Sibella Kraus, SAGE President and recipient of 2014 Growing Green Regional Food Leader Award

Working through multi-partner collaborations, SAGE develops place-based projects, toolkits and conceptual frameworks to demonstrate strategies for urban-edge farmland preservation, regeneration, and re-connection with healthy cities.  SAGE also provides agriculture-related technical services such as foodshed and agricultural economic viability assessments, implementation plans and business plans. Partners include public agencies, land trusts, agricultural enterprises and associations, planning and economic consultancy firms, public-interest organizations working in the area of public health, healthy food access, education and conservation, and community groups in urban and rural areas.

Sibella founded SAGE in 2001 to use her background in agricultural marketing, education and journalism, to help diverse stakeholders embrace urban-edge agricultural places as keystones of urban and regional sustainability. Bringing Poppy on board strengthens the organization’s capacity to work with the agricultural community, particularly retiring landowners and beginning farmers and ranchers who are eager to benefit from new opportunities at the urban-edge.

Poppy Davis, New Program Director at SAGE
Poppy Davis, New Program Director at SAGE

Poppy began her career as a California Certified Public Accountant specializing in family-scale agricultural businesses and associations. She translated her intimate knowledge of agricultural issues and farm-family decision-making to the policy arena, working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), first for the crop insurance program in the Western Region and most recently as the National Program Leader for Small Farms and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Washington, D.C.. While at the USDA she served as a member of the management team for Secretary Vilsack‘s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative,

Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.
Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.

and co-founded the USDA 4 Veterans, Reservists & Military Families, and Women and Working Lands workgroups. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis; a Masters in Journalism from Georgetown University, and a Juris Doctor with a certificate in Agricultural Law from Drake University Law School. Poppy is also a past fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 35) and has served on a number of nonprofit boards including the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, Center for Land Based Learning, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

Farmer Veteran Coalition
Farmer Veteran Coalition

“We are delighted to welcome Poppy to SAGE,” says Kraus. “Poppy’s breadth of experience – providing services to farmers, working for ag-focused nonprofits and for the USDA – and the respect she commands in the California and national agricultural communities, make her the ideal person to help SAGE grow our mission to cultivate urban-edge places that model sustainable agriculture integrated with resilient communities.” For her part, Poppy says, “I have long respected Sibella’s vision and work, and I think we will make a great team. Sibella already has many forward-thinking projects in the works, and I’m looking forward to working with SAGE’s diverse partners, as well as bringing in collaborations of my own.”

California Agricultural Leadership Foundation
California Agricultural Leadership Foundation

SAGE’s areas of expertise, services and publications include:

  • Technical consulting and visioning on the agricultural components of land-use projects and policy documents
  • On-the-ground models and best practice toolkits that integrate farming with public engagement and natural resources stewardship
  • Foodshed  and local agriculture assessments  for land trusts, local and regional governments, associations and businesses
  • Conceptual frameworks that bridge sustainable agriculture and graphic models that depict the inter-relationship of urban and agricultural land uses
For more information, please contact Sibella Kraus or Poppy Davis at 510-526-1793 or via email at sibella@sagecenter.org or poppy@sagecenter.org, or see www.sagecenter.org.

Fresno State to host commencement for state ag leaders

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State will host the California Agricultural Leadership Program commencement ceremony for the first time at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7 in North Gym, Room 118.

The commencement will cap a three-day seminar for the 44th graduating class of emerging or mid-career agricultural leaders. Graduates of the program acquire skills to enhance the long-term success of their businesses, farms, ranches and organizations.

Over the past 17 months, the group has focused on leadership theory, effective communication, motivation, critical and strategic thinking, change management, emotional intelligence, and complex social and cultural issues.

Four Fresno State graduates – Dustin Fuller, Trevor Meyers, Heather Mulholland and Carissa Koopman Rivers – are among the 24 members who will graduate and were inaugurated in October 2013 at Fresno State.

Each fellow has participated in 55 seminar days, including a 10-day national travel seminar to Gettysburg, Penn., Philadelphia and Washington D.C., and a 15-day international travel seminar to South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“We congratulate the 24 fellows on their important achievement of completing the Ag Leadership Program,” said Bob Gray, president and CEO of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, which operates the program. “These leaders will continue to learn and grow, take on new challenges, assume leadership roles and make a difference.”

The 45th class, inaugurated in October 2014 at Fresno State, will also convene on campus during the three-day event. The class includes four additional Fresno State graduates –- Chris Jensen, Stanley Kjar, Lauren Reid and Justin Spellman.

Fresno State animal sciences Professor Dr. Michael Thomas serves as the Jordan College’s core faculty member for the program’s education team and as the foundation’s director of education.

“We are grateful to the Jordan College for its ongoing support of Ag Leadership and are very pleased to hold our inauguration and commencement ceremonies on campus,” Gray said. “Commencement has been held in Pomona for many decades, but we felt it was important to move it to the more centrally-located Fresno State. We also thank Wells Fargo for their generous sponsorship of commencement.”

Fresno State is one of four California universities that partner with the program. The others are Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona and University of California, Davis.

More than 1,200 men and women have participated in the program since the first class was introduced in 1970, making it the longest continuously-operating agriculture leadership training experience in the nation.

For more information, contact Meredith Rehrman Ritchie at 916-984-4473 or mritchie@agleaders.org.