In mid-February, Class III of the Western Growers’ Future Volunteer Leaders Program completed an introductory orientation session in the association’s Irvine office. This is the group’s first activity in what will be a two-year program.
In attendance were ten outstanding young individuals from Western Growers’ member companies: Pete Aiello, Uesugi Farms (Gilroy, CA); Brian Antle, Tanimura & Antle (Salinas, CA); Neill Callis, Turlock Fruit Company (Turlock, CA); Brandon Grimm, Grimmway Farms (Bakersfield, CA); Charlie Montgomery, Rousseau Farming Company (Tolleson, AZ); Alexander Muller, Pasquinelli Produce (Yuma, AZ); Bixby Ramsey, Mann Packing (Salinas, CA); Trey Rodriguez, The Growers Company (Somerton, AZ); Bridget Rotticci, Bengard Ranch (Salinas, CA); and Kyle Smith, JV Smith Companies (Yuma, AZ). Cannon Michael of the Bowles Farming Company (Los Banos, CA) is also in the program but was unable to attend the meeting.
During the two-day orientation session, class participants were provided an overview of the history and organizational structure of Western Growers, the member products and services offered by the association, and the federal, state and local issues affecting the California and Arizona fresh produce industry. Members of Class III also had the opportunity to experience Arbinger’s Leadership and Self-Deception course, which encourages leaders to examine novel approaches to resolving personal and professional conflict.
“As with our first two classes, Class III represents the best and brightest of the next generation in the Arizona and California fresh produce industry,” said program administrator, Cory Lunde. “With all of the uncertainties facing our members and the industry, it is reassuring to observe the level of talent and passion represented by our Future Volunteer Leaders. The future of our industry is in good hands.”
During the course of the next two years, members of the Future Volunteer Leaders Program will participate in the board meetings held in Sacramento, Washington, D.C., and Newport Beach, as well as Annual Meeting events. Additionally, during the second year of the program, Class III will travel to Florida as part of an exchange program with the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation’s Emerging Leader Development Program.
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