Building Community Leaders for Rural Iowa

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The 2022 Iowa Pork Leadership Academy (IPLA) includes 11 people from around the state who work in the pork industry. IPLA develops leadership skills and is organized by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).

Those selected to participate in IPLA have indicated an interest in becoming future leaders in the pork industry at the local, state, and national levels. They may also use their new leadership skills in their local communities.

“These participants want to contribute to a better future for Iowa’s pig farmers,” said Cory Van Gilst, IPPA’s director of producer outreach. “The people in our IPLA group get to build relationships with others in the industry, identify their unique leadership strengths and skills, and receive a broader understanding of the Iowa pork industry,” Van Gilst said.

“Our IPLA members learn about the work that the Pork Checkoff is doing for the industry as well as what is happening in the policy arena. We look at ways that each of them can be an advocate for the industry in any aspect of their lives,” Van Gilst said. “Additionally, they get the opportunity to work on their leadership and communication skills. They can take those skills home to their businesses, county organizations, and communities,” he said.

During the group’s first two meetings, they identified their leadership strengths, were coached on media communications, and learned about the work of IPPA, the National Pork Board, and the National Pork Producers Council. They also met with Iowa legislators and staff from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the governor’s office.

The group will take two educational trips later in 2022. During one, they will travel to Washington, D.C. to better understand the national legislative process and federal agencies. The second trip will be to South and North Carolina to learn about other commodities and the challenges those producers face.

Members of the 2022 IPLA group are (listed alphabetically by county): Audubon County – Yury Alexandra Espinosa, Audubon; Des Moines County – Haley Kerr, Oakville; Howard County – Hailey Waddell, Protivin; Johnson County – Matthew Rooda, Iowa City; Linn County – Matthew Ditch, Center Point.

Also, Plymouth County – Trevor Harson, Hinton, and Colin Schroeder, Le Mars; Polk County – Eleanor Korum, Des Moines, and Katie Tapper, Urbandale; and Story County – Jeb Gent, Ames, and Stacie Matchan, Gilbert.