Global Trajectory Targeted Leaders in RULE/Nuffield

Penn State’s Rural-Urban Leadership Program is focused on building bridges and creating understanding of our states divergent rural and urban issues. RULE is a program of the Penn State University, College of Agricultural Sciences. Article written by RULE Alumnus, Darrin Youker Study Institute Sponsored by MidAtlantic Farm Credit

Speaker Admiral Craig Faller presenting to the group at the United States Naval Observatory; introduction by RULE XV Member, Mat McKnight

Speaker Admiral Craig Faller presenting to the group at the United States Naval Observatory; introduction by RULE XV Member, Mat McKnight

I and other members of the RULE Class XV had the opportunity to put an international experience into our two-year leadership program thanks to a joint study institute of a PA RULE Leadership Class with seven countries of the Nuffield Agricultural Scholars International.

The RULE XV Class spent two days in Washington D.C. with 18 scholars participating from the Nuffield Farming Scholars. While much of the study sessions and tours were focused on international agriculture, the interactions between RULE and Nuffield helped break down international barriers.

The interaction was made possible through the efforts of Jim Geltch, Chief Executive Officer of Nuffield Australia and J.D. Dunbar, RULE Chief Executive Officer/Penn State Senior Extension Associate.

Nuffield Scholars, who hail from the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, travel the globe for months at a time, focusing on an aspect of international agriculture. The research conducted as part of their global tour will bring new perspectives and solutions back to their home countries, and own businesses, to help agriculture tackle emerging

challenges.

 

“RULE builds and extends my personal network which assists Nuffield. This reinforces and adds to my knowledge of the key ingredients for successful leadership.”
~ Jim Geltch, CEO Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars

All Nuffield Scholars come from farm businesses, or are employed in the agriculture sector.

While the RULE program is housed within the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, most RULE participants in Class XV do not come from agriculture backgrounds.

The time spent in Washington D.C., with a specific focus on the size and scope of international agriculture, was eye opening for RULE and Nuffield scholars alike.

The group heard a presentation from Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and staff from the organization about international agriculture from a U.S. perspective, along with the history of Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau, founded by farmers in 1919, is the nation’s largest general farm organization and represents farmers regardless of size or commodity. The organization crafts public policy positions on the national level—such as trade or Farm Bill policy—based on input from its members. Several Nuffield scholars said they were interested in learning how farmers in the United States use member organizations to advocate for agriculture issues.

RULE and Nuffield scholars also had the chance to take a tour of the United States Department of Agriculture headquarters and participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by Undersecretary Michael Scuse. Much of the discussion was focused on the complexities of negotiating international trade deals.

With work underway on deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the discussion was timely, and brought up perspectives from the United States and our partners on the other side of the ocean.

Scholars were also treated to New Zealand hospitality, at the New Zealand Embassy on Observatory Circle, and the chance to learn how trade is vital to the nation’s economy. More than 75 percent of the nation’s dairy production is exported to other countries, making agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership an important component of the nation’s economy.

 

“The Embassy was beautiful. What a magnificent experience to learn about the lifestyle and culture of New Zealand.  Presentation topic was riveting.”
~ RULE XV Class Member

A highlight for the class was an exclusive opportunity to tour the U.S. Naval Observatory and listen to a discussion on leadership from Rear Admiral Craig Faller, chief of legislative affairs for the Secretary of the Navy.

Admiral Faller personalized his philosophy on leadership through examples of his distinguished career in service to our nation. His approach to leadership “building trust, defining leadership and making a difference,” was born out of his upbringing, military career, and both successes and failures. Admiral Faller shared a story of a time, as a young officer, where he had a public disagreement with a senior officer. How the senior officer handled that incident was a lesson in leadership and trust, and made a lasting legacy in Admiral Faller’s life. Admiral Faller’s discussion made an irrevocable impression on the class.

“Rear Admiral Faller—a powerful insight into why effective leadership is necessary.”
~ Jim Geltch, CEO Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars

“He really made good leadership seem attainable,” one RULE classmate said. “This presentation was truly the most memorable of the whole program due to the synergy between speaker, venue and audience.”

“I think I learned more about leadership from Admiral Craig Faller than any other speakers from all of the institutes. “Build trust, define leadership, make a difference.” That is going to be my new measuring stick. I appreciated the personal notes and stories he provided.”
~ RULE XV Class Member

Throughout the two-day joint study institute, both RULE and Nuffield Scholars had the opportunity for impromptu talks and casual conversation.

“Very powerful program that has had life-changing impacts on participants. The passion of the participants was the most impressive aspect.”
~ John Latini, Associate Director of Federal Relations for
Pennsylvania State University

As anyone who has attended work conferences can attest, sometimes the most meaningful and impactful discussions occur outside the conference-room setting. That was certainly true of the interactions between RULE and Nuffield scholars. Over dinner, or during walks along the National Mall, the groups talked about life in their respective countries, their perspectives on their governments and politics.

I have never traveled internationally, but have always valued the perspectives that international visitors have on our political system. There’s no question that America captures attention on the international stage, so I’m curious how we as a nation are perceived. And it’s always of value to hear how other nations have solved problems—like health care—that continues to elude us. The time spent with farmers from New Zealand and Australia was eye opening.

“This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. The schedule was jam packed with such detail I was very anxious when we arrived. However, the anxiety changed to excitement when meeting and greeting the Nuffield Scholars. The group was an extraordinary team of men and women who have a desire to make changes in their communities from half way around the world. Surprisingly to me, their desire and needs are the same as ours. They were searching for answers to big questions about operation costs, techniques for crop production, and labor issues. I certainly hope we had shared some positive information with them as they return to their countries.”
~ RULE XV Class Member, Nadine Glass

Above all, it was a pleasure to learn more about the agriculture industries in Pacific Rim nations and listen to the pride that these farmers have for their farms. For two days in Washington D.C., RULE scholars had an international experience that broadened perspectives, opened eyes and built life-long relationships.