Iowa soybean farmers speaking at leadership event

Farmers begin their leadership training

November 30, 2023 | Kriss Nelson

The 40th Anniversary Class of American Soybean Association (ASA) Corteva Agriscience Young Leaders began their leadership training this week at Corteva’s Global Business Center in Johnston.

The class consists of representatives from 17 states and Canada, with Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) farmer-members Skyler and Carly Rinker and Michael and Amanda Tupper in attendance.

The ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leaders enhances participants’ skills through leadership, communications and issues-based training and builds a strong peer network, generating increased success in their businesses and communities.

“Nice ground-level introduction to soybean organizations and how they relate to soybean production,” says Rinker. “We are learning not only what is happening nationally but also the global demand for soy and how we continue to build those relationships.”

Jeff Jorgenson, a farmer from Sidney and past Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) president, spoke to the group and first congratulated them.

“To a degree, you are working toward making a difference for U.S. farmers and have taken the first step into the leadership role,” Jorgenson says. “I commend them for putting forth the effort and time to be a part of it.

Young farmer leaders

Hearing from other leaders

Grower leaders spoke to the class, introducing them to national soybean organizations.

Jorgenson represented the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC).

Jorgenson currently serves as a board member for ASA and USSEC and took the time to explain to the young leaders' group how USSEC works to attain market access for U.S. soy.

Tim Bardole, current ISA and United Soybean Board (USB) director and farmer from Greene County, discussed checkoff and how USB directs those dollars.

“USB invests checkoff dollars in ways to help the U.S. soybean farmer as a whole,” says Bardole. “I explained to the class this includes infrastructure on the export side to plant genetics that will help with production and everything in between.”

Training to lead

Many graduates of this training program will assume leadership roles with their state and national soybean associations. Young Leader seminars feature intense coursework designed to enhance leadership skills for the benefit of soy and the entire agricultural industry.

Jorgenson says he considers the group his replacement.

“Essentially, these will be the ones replacing us as directors, and this program gives them an understanding of what we do, how we do it, and why,” says Jorgenson. “Hopefully, they are invigorated to get involved at the state level through QSSBs (Qualified State Soybean Boards), where they can work toward national leadership through the ASA or USB.”

Bardole agrees these are future leaders in the soybean industry.

“When you look at the current state, ASA and USB directors, many of them have attended this course,” says Bardole. “It’s a great course that educates them on a variety of topics these young leaders can use as a base to decide where their interests lie to get them involved in their industry and make a difference in the future.”

With their family farming operation and Rinker’s job as an assistant teaching professor at Iowa State University’s (ISU) Department of Agricultural Education and Studies, he knows he will continue to be involved in the soybean industry long after completion of the ASA Corteva Agriscience Young Leaders program.

A large part of that participation will be helping to tell the farmer’s story.

“When we think about where soybeans are headed and what production means for the producer, we also have to consider educating the consumer,” says Rinker. “During one of our classes, we talked about telling the story. We must learn to be good educators as consumers are becoming further removed from the farm.”

The Tuppers are the third generation to farm near Ionia in Chickasaw County. Before returning to the farm, Michael Tupper says one of the commitments he and Amanda made was to be involved in advocacy.

“We need to step up and be active on boards and committees to help fill a gap from other making transitions,” says Michael Tupper. “That is important to my wife and I. We need to be involved and do some sort of advocacy. We hope to be active within the Iowa Soybean Association and possibly other organizations.”

Making connections

Building relationships and networking with other farmers has made an impression on the Tuppers and Rinkers.

“It’s been awesome to talk to other couples and individuals from across the country and Canada,” says Rinker. “Although our operations are different, we are all like-minded and thinking in the same direction.”

Networking also means learning.

“The connections and conversations from people around the country and how well we are all connected to agriculture and what we can learn from each other if we just take the time to listen,” says Michael Tupper.

About the Corteva AgriScience Young Leader Program

Phase I of the 2022-23 Young Leader program took place Nov. 27-30 at Corteva's Global Business Center in Johnston, Iowa. The program continues Feb. 28-March 2 in Houston, Texas, with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

ASA’s longest-running leadership program, Young Leaders, was founded in 1984 and continues to set the bar for leadership training in agriculture, identifying and training new, innovative and engaged growers to serve as the voice of the American farmer.

“We are thankful to be able to participate in programming like this and for organizations like ASA and ISA to commit to helping young people in agriculture get more involved in the advocacy side of what we do,” says Michael Tupper.