Leadership Academy Newsletter, February 2020 Recruitment 2020 is Underway!

We are having an amazing time in the Academy this year, and we can't wait to usher in the 2020-2021 class. Faculty, you can help us recruit the 2020-2021 Leadership Academy cohort by:

  • Sharing our Information Night notification (below)
  • Inviting us to speak in your class
  • Nominating a student for the Academy by emailing Faith.Vawter@oregonstate.edu
  • Directing students to apply online by April 3rd!


  Advice from Academy Alums
  This past week, we were honored to bring back some Leadership Academy alums who shared advice, feedback, and leadership quotes with our current students. The seminar started and ended with the entire group in one classroom for introductions and panel discussion. The groups then broke out into multiple rooms and students had a chance to eat dinner with the alum they wanted to follow up with. We ended the evening with a large group panel discussion. Panelists included:

Anne Marie Richards (cohort 2015-2016)
While in the Leadership Academy, Anne Marie studied Agricultural Sciences and completed an undergraduate research project for the GROW Healthy Kids & Communities Initiative. She currently holds several management roles for her family’s wholesale tree nursery in Portland. She uses her skills that she learned from the leadership academy in each aspect of her job to effectively manage the people and processes around her. She is also using those skills in the classroom while earning her Master’s degree at University of Portland.

Andrew Miles (cohort 2014-2015)
Andrew entered the Leadership Academy as a sophomore studying Agricultural Business Management. During his time, he developed an affiliation for a leadership style that was caring and motivational, encouraging their followers to go above and beyond. After receiving his B.S., Andrew went on to earn a Master’s in Agricultural Education. Now, Andrew is a financial analyst at Harvest Capital Company where he continues to utilize his strengths and passions.

McKenzie Searles (cohort 2016-2017)
As an Agricultural Business Management major with a minor in Communications, McKenzie used her time in the Leadership Academy well. She believes a leader is self-aware with the ability to encourage and empower others. After graduation, she began working at Northwest Farm Credit Services as a credit officer. There she hopes to continue using her skills to bring awareness to consumers and address the importance of the agricultural industry.

Lauren LaGrande (cohort 2015-2016)
Majoring in Agricultural Sciences with minors in Communications, Writing, and Leadership, Lauren spent a year in Leadership Academy. She describes her ideal leader as positive and open-minded, with a will to serve. Upon graduation, she went on to Texas Tech University to receive a Masters in Agricultural Communications. You can now see Lauren on campus as an instructor and recruiter for the Department of Agricultural Sciences and Agricultural Education.

Holly Omoto (cohort 2017-2018)
Holly was a junior when she entered the Leadership Academy studying Animal Science with a pre-vet option and a Leadership minor. Some of the characteristics she believes are exhibited in a leader are the ability to motivate, listen, and bring out the best in everyone. She is now attending OSU’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, where she will become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

Megan Ooi (cohort 2017-2018)
Megan was accepted into the Leadership Academy while studying Food Science and Technology with a minor in Chemistry. She felt communication, empathy, and motivation were some traits of a good leader. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Food Science and Technology while working as a Graduate Research Assistant here at Oregon State.

Current students heard from Academy alums in our Alumni Panel last week. Students enjoyed food, conversation, and received valuable career advice from the panelists.


Supporter Spotlight: Phil Ward

Phil Ward being appointed to State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency by the Obama administration (left.) Instructing a seminar on conflict management to a Leadership Academy cohort (right.)A two-time graduate of Oregon State University, with Bachelor and Masters’ degrees in Agricultural Education, Phil Ward is a 5th generation Oregonian whose ancestors traveled the Oregon Trail in the late 1840’s. With a career trajectory as formidable as they come, he began his professional career as a high school agriculture teacher in 1977 and in 1983 was named Oregon’s Outstanding Young Teacher by the Oregon Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association.



After leaving teaching In 1984 he joined the Oregon Department of Agriculture and in 1987 was promoted to Assistant Director of the Department, supervising the Natural Resource Policy Area of the agency and serving as liaison to the Oregon Legislature. In his biography, he states "I left government ten years later to become Executive Vice President of the Oregon Farm Bureau and then returned to the Department of Agriculture in 1999 as its Director, at the request of then Governor John Kitzhaber." During his tenure he left his imprint on legislation around the implementation of Oregon’s groundbreaking Agricultural Water Quality Act (SB 1010) and worked to increase markets for Oregon agricultural products in the Pacific Rim.
In June of 2004, Phil was appointed to serve as Director of the Oregon Water Resources Department by Governor Theodore Kulongoski. During his tenure he had many noteworthy accomplishments including longstanding water right processing backlogs significantly decreased, new water supply developed for agriculture and industry, and significant amounts of water protected in-stream for fish. Also overseeing the development of Oregon’s first-ever Integrated Water Resources Strategy--this pioneering initiative incorporated water quantity, quality and ecosystem function. Under his leadership, this strategy now serves as a road map for how Oregon’s water needs will be met in the years ahead.
From 2014-2017, he served on an appointment from President Barack Obama as State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, administering all aspects of Federal Farm Bill implementation in Oregon including economic safety net programs for farmers and ranchers, disaster assistance, price supports, and farm ownership and operation loans, as well as conservation initiatives like the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

When he returned to OSU Phil served in several capacities including instructor for the College of Agriculture Leadership Minor, and Leadership Academy mentor. "One of the things I find so powerful about the Academy is the way it marries the strong science and technical training that the OSU colleges of Agriculture and Forestry typically provide their students, with the leadership and communication skills necessary to set those students apart as promotable professionals." He recalls his personnel responsibilities over the years, always looking for individuals with demonstrable leadership and communication training and skills. He says, "folks with these skills tend to advance faster and further in their careers as they have the ability to navigate not just the technical demands of their jobs, but the people challenges as well." As we hear time and time again in the Academy, most employers today are looking for individuals that can effectively lead teams, communicate with customers, and deal with difficult people and situations with grace, sincerity and confidence. He says, "...these are the kind of skills the Leadership Academy helps students develop. These are the kind of skills that will help these students excel in the professional workforce."

Phil's dedication and support in the College garnered him the 2019 Distinguished Legacy Award. We are so grateful to Phil and his wife Pam for continuing to support the College of Agricultural Sciences and its students over the years. When he is not on campus, you can find him spending time with his three grown children and four grandchildren, and two chocolate labs on a piece of the home farm near the Willamette River.


Scholarship Spotlight: Katie Duggan

Thanks to our corporate sponsors Northwest Farm Credit Services, CHS Inc. and individual donors, students like Katie are able to put their learning into practice. Katie is in her senior year in Agricultural Sciences, and this past Fall term was able to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention. 

Katie says about the opportunity, "I am so grateful that I was able to go back to receive my American Degree, the highest degree an FFA member can earn. I know that my trip across the National stage wouldn't have been possible without the donors who helped me, and I also had a chance to work on my PDP while I was there. I was able to meet other agriculture educators, and future ag teachers, and talking to these people from across the nation helped me finalize my decision to pursue agricultural education. This trip helped me realize how large of an impact FFA has had on my personal and professional development, and the chance to go back one last time as a student was one that I will never take for granted."

Scholarships provided through the Leadership Academy help students like Katie make progress on their personal development plan leadership goals. She says, "focusing on networking and lifelong learning in the context of this convention would serve me the best as a leader...there are thousands of people to meet and talk to at Nationals. The best part about this is that we are all connected by an amazing organization that has led to my academic and personal success, as well as the success of countless others. I'd like to network with fellow alumni, and even talk to different advisors if possible, because Agriculture Education is one of the careers I'm thinking about heavily. It is also important to understand that we never stop learning, so the workshops would help me gain more information from my peers, as well as insights that others have thought about."

Current Leadership Academy cohort student Katie Duggan honored and humbled to accept her National Degree in Indiana this past Fall term.


For other news, please visit our website.

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Leadership Academy
Oregon State University
108 Strand Agriculture Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone: 541-737-2661