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Education, leadership are key to Indiana’s 10-year farm plan
Associate Editor
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Before he was hired four years ago to head up Purdue University extension and act as assistant dean of its College of Agriculture, Jason Henderson was a vice president with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
In that job he oversaw financial activities and patterns in seven states, and he noted last week that Indiana was – and is – special among those because of its spirit of collaboration among business industry leaders, government and organizations.

This is one reason he said the 10-year Indiana Agriculture Strategic Plan rolled out on June 26 is even possible. “If you’re going to grow an industry, it’s about people – and the one thing that makes agriculture special is because it cares,” he said at an event that day, tasked with talking briefly about two of the Plan’s seven core “action plans:” leadership development and education and career development.

“It takes care to raise an animal; it takes care to grow a crop; it takes care to grow a vibrant community or strong business. And to me, that’s what makes Indiana so special.”

While these two action plans are separated each into its own bloc of goals in the larger 10-year Plan, few would argue that education, career and leadership are not interdependent. Henderson noted  career development is the foundation of agriculture as a business – and education is necessary to all of it.

Last week’s article outlined the four chief initiatives for education and career efforts over the next decade, such as leading the charge to include ag education in state standards for all grades and developing outreach to make non-farm kids think about ag careers.

One of the 11 specific actions to take through 2027, for example, is for Indiana Farm Bureau to lead the effort to see ag components added into state education standards. This doesn’t mean Farm Bureau has to work alone, but it is designated that specific effort’s “champion,” meaning it is assembling the needed team and taking responsibility.

Another action will be to promote career opportunities in the agbiosciences to all grades in school, as well as internships, job shadowing and on-job training for post-secondary institutions.

The champion of this effort will be AgriNovus Indiana. Indiana Family of Farmers and the State Fair Commission, meanwhile, will “champion” developing social media and online virtual career exploration to promote ag careers.

The leadership action plan includes the priorities of identifying and advancing programs and training that build strong leaders in agriculture; creating a culture of leadership development in ag across all career paths and ages, from FFA to lifetime achievement awards; and linking leadership programs statewide with the ag sector.

Seven specific actions under “leadership” include expanding curriculum programs for non-traditional audiences in 4-H and FFA, championed jointly by Purdue, 4-H, FFA and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. The Plan’s committee also wants Purdue and AgrIInstitute to work with the state to create leadership awards for emerging leaders in state agriculture, both for young adults and teenagers.

Read more about these two action plans and their core components – and how you might become involved – online at