AgCenter Opens Application Process for its Leadership Class


The LSU AgCenter Agricultural Leadership Development Program is now accepting applications for Class XIX, which is scheduled to begin in January 2025 with a completion date of February 2027.

“Developing leaders is essential to advancing agriculture, especially in areas such as finance, policy issues, and regulatory matters,” said Matt Lee, vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture. “The graduates of this program continue to advocate for agriculture and help maintain a healthy and viable industry that plays a crucial role in Louisiana’s economy.”

The program was established in 1988 and helps educate its participants on ways to be a voice for agriculture on local, state, and national levels. Bobby Soileau, program director, said class members will be exposed to a variety of critical agricultural issues and strategies that can be used to inform the public how the issues affect agriculture and the general populace.

“We give our people a broader perspective of the issues impacting all of agriculture, forestry, and natural resources,” Soileau said. “We give them the tools they need to become more effective spokespeople for Louisiana agriculture.”

The curriculum includes 10 seminars: seven lecture-based seminars in various locations across the state and three travel seminars. The travel seminars entail a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with the country’s leaders who shape the nation’s agricultural and trade policies. Participants also will travel to another state to learn about agricultural issues there.

The culmination of the program and last seminar is an international study tour. This component is a visit to another country to learn how agricultural, economic, and social systems work there. International trips in the past have been to countries in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia.

“The international tour is a great way to see how other countries operate, including their agricultural sector,” Soileau said. “It really shows everyone in the program that competition is global.”

People who aspire to have a leadership role in Louisiana agriculture should consider enrolling in this program.

“Impacts from the LSU AgCenter Agricultural Leadership Program resonate across the state and beyond,” said Tara Smith, Extension director for the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. “The program provides an exceptional foundation for participants to engage in various leadership roles throughout the agricultural sector and represent Louisiana agriculture on a state, national, and global scale.”

Participants are expected to commit to attending all the seminars throughout the two-year program. They will also be expected to pay a small portion of their costs for their studies and travel.

Most of the program is underwritten by endowments and annual giving through the LSU Foundation, including the Chalkley Family Endowment, the H. Rouse Caffey Endowment, the Robert R. Soileau Endowment, and the Ag Leaders of Louisiana Endowment.

To apply, visit The application process is now open, and the interview process for being accepted into the program will begin in September.

Craig Gautreaux is a communications specialist at LSU AgCenter and may be reached at

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