Farm Bureau Leadership Program Provides Students with Soft Skills

Brian GermanEducation

Leadership Program

High school juniors receive professional skills and experiences from the Tulare County Farm Bureau. This is due to a youth leadership program started for high school students to be more prepared for their future careers. The program follows a similar schedule to the typical school year, allowing students to remain engaged and grow while participating in school.

The Tulare County Farm Bureau has been running this youth leadership program since 1983. The program was originally created to mimic the California Farm Bureau Leadership Experience for adults and had initially been intended for high school juniors and seniors. The program evolved over time to specifically focus on recruiting students as sophomores and training them as juniors so that they were more confident and prepared when applying for college or jobs after high school.

Today, the Executive Director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, Tricia Stever-Blattler, coordinates the youth leadership program. She works closely with her advisory board to come up with new ideas and encourage more students to become involved and learn about different agricultural careers.

“I think our goal is to prepare these students as they enter their senior year of high school to really have a better idea of what it might mean to look at an ag career and to also explore some of the non-traditional job sectors that exist for ag, beyond those that we always think about,” Stever-Blatter said. “Students that may want to be farmers or PCAs or veterinarians tend to kind of know what that path looks like, but all of those other unique ally jobs that exist…that oftentimes we forget are also really important and very allied within agriculture as well.”

The students of the leadership program are involved in a variety of activities that focus on the development of values, leadership, industry experience, and governmental experience. These activities take students all over the state of California to different college campuses, agricultural facilities, and government offices.

Through these activities, as well as training within the program, students are expected to acquire many useful skills. These include teamwork, proper business practices, work ethic, problem-solving, and professional profile development.

“We talk about greeting people, handshakes, sending proper thank you’s, learning to take phone calls, learning to write thank-you notes,” Stever-Blattler said. “We do some basic business etiquette training to kick the year off.”

The students involved in this program use these skills as they participate in various professional activities. These skills benefit their longtime career development and professional behavior.

Stever-Blattler suggests that anyone interested in this experience should apply by May 1. More information on this application can be found at the Tulare County Farm Bureau website.