Almond Board of California Leadership Program Begins Seventh Year

Taylor Hillman General, Industry News Release, Tree, nut & vine crops

almond board
Fourteen participants began their yearlong journey to almond expertise in January with a state-of-the-industry presentation by Almond Board of California (ABC) President and CEO Richard Waycott. Members of the seventh Almond Leadership Program class heard that the California Almond industry plays a key role in California agriculture, providing leadership on critical issues affecting growers and food processors, with an ethos of continuous improvement and best management practices. Almond Leadership Program participants and their peers will be the stewards who will take farming to its next phase of efficiency, productivity and environmental responsibility.

The 12-month program offers both learning opportunities and challenges to the members. They will take part in 15 events, covering topics that range from almond production practices, such as a rootstock budding demonstration at Burchell Nursery in March, to almond quality and food safety seminars in the spring and summer, tours of almond harvest and processing facilities in the fall, and seminars on marketing, nutrition, technical and regulatory affairs and production and environmental issues throughout the year.

Participants are required to job-shadow a volunteer mentor from within the industry, and to write a paper describing this experience. Graduates of the program will serve as non-voting members at selected Almond Board committee meetings for one year, and are encouraged to continue their involvement in the industry afterward, as did leadership graduate Daniel Bays of Patterson. A third-generation almond grower who spent one year as an observer on the Production Research Committee, Bays was later chosen to fill a coveted alternate position on the committee.

As a way to give back to their peers, mentors and the California Almond industry, participants design and carry out a special project, which is presented at the Almond Industry Conference in December, their final event of the program.

Since the Almond Leadership Program was established in 2009, more than 100 men and women have participated.

Members of the 2015 class, representing the California Almond industry are:

Sim Batth, Prudential
Ricardo Camargo, Mid Valley Agricultural Services
Mike Curry, Johnson Farms
Krista Frelinger Tavares, Syngenta
Michael Marsh, Yosemite Farm Credit
Rosa Perez, Oro Loma Ranch
Brandon Rebiero, Wilbur-Ellis
Matt Roy, Summit Almonds
Taj Samran, Samran and Sons Farming
Vishv Thakkar, Noble Enterprises
Derek Thomas, California Grown Nut Company
Scott Tucker, Pork Power Farms
Maria Vasquez, Castle Family Health Centers
Mike Vasquez, Toyota Tsusho America

For information about the Almond Leadership Program, call Jenny Nicolau at (209) 343-3248, send an email to, or go to

About California Almonds
California Almonds are a natural, wholesome and quality food product, making almonds California’s leading agricultural export in terms of value. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds through its research-based approach to all aspects of marketing, farming and production on behalf of the more than 6,500 California Almond growers and processors, many of whom run multigenerational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a nonprofit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit or our blog.