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Almond Board Announces 2020 Almond Leadership Program

17 industry professionals will embark on a year-long experience to further their leadership skills and involvement in the California almond industry.


MODESTO, Calif. – The Almond Board of California (ABC) is proud to announce the Almond Leadership Program Class of 2020. These 17 promising leaders represent diverse backgrounds across multiple industries, from almond growers to processors, sales representatives to regulatory consultants, researchers to pest control advisors, and more.

In this year-long program, participants will grow in their roles as the future generation of California almond industry leaders, learning from volunteer mentors who will help equip them with the knowledge and experience necessary to improve their leadership skills, the industry and their communities. The class will also complete specialized training in a wide variety of topic areas, many of which are tied to ABC activities in global marketing, production and nutrition research, food safety and more. Through monthly seminars spanning topics across all aspects of the industry, participants will sharpen their communication skills while building lasting relationships with each other, ABC staff and others through networking opportunities.

“It is an honor to go through this program with so many intelligent and like-minded people who all have the same goal: to better the California almond industry and give back to our communities. I love that the main thing connecting all the participants is our drive to make an impact on this industry,” said participant Michelle Brasil of Olam Farming.

As a kickoff to the program, the Leadership class participated in a two-day orientation that included an address from ABC President and CEO Richard Waycott and Chair of ABC’s Board of Directors Holly A. King. Waycott and King highlighted the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals and the almond community’s roadmap to achieving them, two cornerstones of this year’s Almond Leadership Program.

As they progress through the program, Leadership participants will gain a stronger understanding of how social, economic and environmental issues — combined with the current political climate — affect the industry. They’ll also learn how all sectors in the almond supply chain work together to provide a safe, sustainableproduct to consumers worldwide.

“It’s important now more than ever before to help pay-it-forward by empowering the next generation of talented leaders to sustain and propel the tremendous benefits of modern agriculture, making a positive contribution toward feeding and nourishing our growing and connected world,” said program mentor Nassar Dean of Bayer Crop Science, the official sponsor of the 2020 Almond Leadership Program.

Participants are also required to pursue an area of interest as part of a yearlong self-directed project that they will present to fellow classmates, mentors and the ABC Board of Directors at the end of the program. The purpose of the project is to challenge participants to take a deep dive into a topic that interests them, try a new technology or innovative practice on their operation or explore a new or novel idea that advances the industry in some capacity. These projects will all focus on ways to improve the California almond community, and some past projects have even led to important breakthroughs for the industry. At the end of the year, one participant will be selected to present their project at The Almond Conference 2020 in Sacramento.

“This program helps mold great people into even greater leaders — the leaders we will one day look toward to shape the future of the almond industry,” said Jenny Nicolau, senior manager, Industry Relations and Communications, ABC. “Each graduate from the Almond Leadership Program has gone on to be a leader of change in the industry or their community in some capacity, and this group will be no different. They are bright and talented, and obviously problem-solvers, and we are honored to be partners on this yearlong journey.”

Over the past eleven years, the Almond Leadership Program has graduated more than 160 participants and supported many key initiatives benefiting the industry. This year’s class will continue the tradition of raising funds for California Future Farmers of America (FFA) and has pledged to raise more than $25,000 in scholarships for high school students interested in pursuing agriculture in college.

Members of this year’s class include: Nicole Assali, California Grown Nut Company; Jason Bayer, Exact Corporation; Michelle Brasil, Olam Farming; Steve Dail, T.A.D. Farming, Inc.; Jason DeGraff, Mid Valley Ag Services; Angad Dhadda, Dhadda Farms; Stephen Dotta, Poythress Farms; Eric Lahargou, Campos Brothers Farms; Daniel Lawson, Treehouse Almonds; Kyle McClintock, IB Farming/San Joaquin Fertilizer; Chris McGlothlin, Western Agricultural Processors Association; Michael Navarrete, Protect Your Nuts; Nathaniel Roberts, Wonderful Orchards; Justin Rose, Redox Chemicals, LLC; Raj Samran, Samran Sons & Farming Co. Inc.; Haley Seeger, Blue Diamond Growers; Matthew Wilson, Bayer Crop Science.

i Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product.

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