The 2nd Annual Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum recently convened at the El Tropicano Riverwalk hotel in San Antonio, Texas, October 17-19, 2012. The Leaders Forum brought together representatives from industry, government, and education to continue the dialog about how to capitalize on the potential Hispanic/Latino talent has in the future of Agriculture. In total, 115 registered attendees from 14 states in addition to several Latin American countries were represented. New at this year’s national forum was the introduction of more than 40 college students who were able to participate, and benefit from the networking opportunities with national agricultural leaders, thanks to the generous support from sponsors who provided scholarships for students to attend the event.
The Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum included a packed agenda with passionate and skilled presenters taking center stage throughout the 3-day meeting. Highlights of the 2nd Annual Leaders Forum included the keynote address by Mr. Edward Avalos, United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs kicking off the event, the celebration of the “150-years of the USDA”, a social networking opportunity in a historic venue where attendees rode riverboats through downtown San Antonio, and were given an opportunity to participate in a drawing for several door prizes generously sponsored by Iowa State University. Students were able to network with industry, government, and university representatives to explore employment opportunities while students interested in pursuing graduate degrees, were able to speak to college deans in attendance. Additionally, there was a “leaving a legacy” symbolic gesture, where planning committee members and attendees planted a tree on the grounds of the El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel to signify the importance of the groundbreaking work Latinos in Agriculture is doing to bring awareness to Hispanic students about the opportunities in Agriculture.
The “150-Years of the USDA” celebration brought together dignitaries and VIPs such as: Mr. Eligio “Kika” de la Garza, Former U.S. Congressman; Mr. Juan M. Garcia, Administrator, Farm Service Agency, USDA, Washington, D.C.; Ms. Carolyn Parker, Director, Office of Advocacy and Outreach, USDA, Washington, D.C., Mr. Salvador Salinas, Texas State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA, Mr. Paco Valentin, State Director of Rural, Development, USDA; and Councilman, Mr. Rey Saldaña, City Council District 4, San Antonio.
Of special note was when Councilman Saldaña read a City of San Antonio Proclamation signed by Mayor, Julian Castro, officially designating October 17-19, 2012 as “Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum Days”.
In addition to celebrating USDA’s 150-years of existence, both Mr. “Kika” and Mrs. Lucille de la Garza were recognized for their leadership and long time contributions in support of agriculture. Nancy O’Mallon, CEO of About Harvest, LLC, and Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum’s Media Affiliate, was Master of Ceremonies for the “150-Years of the USDA” celebration.
The 3-Day agenda also included a series of presentations and discussion panels related to changing the perceptions of Agriculture and increasing the educational pipeline of Hispanic students for the transformation of the agriculture workforce of the future.
Some of the topics discussed were best practices for recruitment and retention, proven methods of recruiting Hispanic students into Agriculture, the role college advisors play in building an educational pipeline as well as strategies in promoting Ag Literacy to impact the talent pipeline of the future. In addition, there were presentations related to career opportunities for Hispanics in higher education, as well as utilizing social media to recruit and retain Latino students.
The last day of the forum culminated with former Hallmark’s chief brand advocate, author of the branding book, Brand Aid, and one of the world’s foremost experts on brand management and marketing, Mr. Brad VanAuken, talking about “Branding Careers in Agriculture for Future Generations: Changing perceptions of Agriculture”, and an inspiring student panel whose topic was, “What Will it Take to Recruit Me? Hispanic Students Sharing their Perspective”. Students on the panel shared their personal stories about how they became involved in agriculture and what strategies can be considered when recruiting Hispanic students into Agriculture. The panel included students from Colorado, Minnesota, and Texas who are attending a community college, a university, and graduate school.
The 3-day event, packed with useful information for all in attendance would not have been possible, if not for the support of the generous sponsors and supporters of this year’s event. Forum hosts included AgForLife, LLC and TCTS Global, LLC. The Media Affiliate was About Harvest, LLC.
Sponsors included: Platinum level sponsor, Farm Credit; Bronze Level Sponsors: Elanco, CHS Foundation, and Capital Farm Credit; Friends Level Sponsors: USDA – Natural Resource Conservation Service, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Texas Pork Producers, Iowa State University, and USDA – Hispanic Serving Institutions National Program; Support Level Sponsors: Texas Farm Bureau, Iowa Select Farms, USDA – Farm Service Agency, Truffle Media, Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, St. Edward’s University, and Monsanto.
The 2012 Leaders Forum was organized by a group of diverse volunteers and the planning committee from a cross section of industry, government, and education. Members of the committee were Ms. Lili Alonzo, Iowa Select Farms, Mr. Randy Breitling, Capital Farm Credit, Mr. Aurelio Curbelo, Iowa State University, Ms. Ruby de la Garza, USDA – Hispanic Serving Institutions National Program, Mr. Ruben Flores, Colorado State University, Dr. Maria Gutierrez, Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Mr. Joe MacDonald, Elanco, and Dr. Adalberto Perez de Leon, USDA – Agricultural Research Service. Rounding out the committee included co-founders, Dr. Edward Romero, AgForLife, LLC and Mr. Orlando Gil, TCTS Global, LLC.
Plans are underway for next year’s forum to be held in San Antonio, Texas. Dates for the 3rd Annual Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum are being considered for October 2013. Specific dates will be forthcoming.
For a complete list of speakers, topics, and specifics related to the 2nd Annual 3-day event, please visit the Latinos in Agriculture website
If you or your organization are interested in learning more about the opportunities available in attending and supporting the 3rd Annual Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Forum, please access the Contact Information page on the website and let us know more about you.