3 from Orleans finish first year with LEAD New York

Provided photo from LEAD NY: The 18th Class of LEAD New York completed its first year with 28 people from agricultural businesses and organizations throughout the state.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 April 2020 at 10:01 am

Three Orleans County residents are among a new class of 28 people who finished the first year of a leadership program for people in the agricultural industry in New York.

LEAD New York just completed the year-long training program with its 18th class. Among the class members are three Orleans County residents: Jessica Decker of Kendall (Quality Systems Manager for the Brockport plant of Bonduelle USA), Matthew Toussaint of Medina (Partner/Manager of Toussaint Farms LLC in Medina) and David Bittner of Lyndonville (Orchard manager for Bittner-Singer Orchards in Appleton).

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the first year of the program didn’t end the way the class had anticipated. They weren’t able to hold the final, in-person seminar in Corning. The group instead met via Zoom, and other content will be covered later in the summer.

“This first year of the program focuses on leadership skill development, heightened self-awareness, improved understanding of the food, agriculture and natural resource sectors in New York State, and building a team of aspiring leaders that will support each other on their development journey” said Larry Van De Valk, Executive Director of the program. “In the second year, we turn our attention outward, spending less time on skill development and more time on issues awareness, critical thinking, and developing a global perspective. The current crisis will certainly provide much for us to discuss about food systems, community, and leadership.”

LEAD New York is a leadership development program for adult professionals in the food, agriculture and natural resource sectors. It consists of seminars, workshops, and field travel experiences both in and out of New York State, including an international study trip. The class in the first year has looked at the industry throughout the state, including spending three days in the Batavia area from Dec. 5-7 to study production agriculture locally.

The program focuses on leadership skill development, enhanced self-awareness, civic engagement, a greater understanding of issues facing our food system and rural communities, and cultivating leadership networks. Currently, there are over 500 LEAD New York alumni serving in leadership positions in private business, local, state and federal government positions, not-for-profit organizations, and educational institutions.

For more information on the program, click here.

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