As I travel the country visiting apple growers and apple products companies, one question remains a constant: Who will lead the apple industry through the next decade and beyond?
Heeding these concerns, USApple will formally launch a new apple industry leadership program later this month, in conjunction with our 2010 Capitol Hill Day on March 25 and March Board of Directors and committee meetings to be held March 26-27.
The new program is designed to equip the next generation of American apple growers with an understanding of federal regulatory and legislative apple issues, as well as apple marketing strategies, and to provide an opportunity to learn from peers and apple leaders from around the country.
The goals of the program are:
• Establish a credible, comprehensive, long-term leadership development program that prepares young growers for productive involvement with the U.S. Apple Association, state apple associations, and the U.S. apple industry.
• Provide orientation, understanding and encouragement in public policy issues affecting the U.S. apple industry.
• Foster fellowship and cooperative working relationships across U.S. apple growing regions through discussions about key apple industry issues, processes, trends, research, and activities.
• Identify and develop future potential leaders for the apple industry.
Young apple growers through approximately age 35 are eligible to participate. Young growers involved in apple packing, shipping, and marketing are also encouraged to join.
Creation of this new apple industry leadership program is inspired by the Young Growers Alliance, a new generation of specialty crop growers seeking to develop progressive approaches for meeting future growing and marketing challenges through educational opportunities, community involvement, field trips, and networking events. Launched in Pennsylvania in 2005 under the auspices of the Pennsylvania State University Fruit Research and Extension Center, the group explores the latest trends in orchard management, care, and research in areas such as sustainable and organic fruit production, orchard automation, and pest control, as well as contemporary marketing strategies and policy issues.
Capitol Hill Day Kickoff
The new young growers program will kick off in conjunction with Capitol Hill Day, an annual USApple event that brings apple growers from around the country to Washington, DC, to meet with Congressional representatives. The day begins with an “Issues Breakfast” featuring an address from Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), followed by a day of Congressional visits. Activities conclude with a reception with apple leaders and an address from another apple state representative.
Young grower guests are invited to attend USApple Board committee meetings the following day. Approximately 10 young growers are being selected to participate in the inaugural events. Candidates will be identified by the local USApple Board members. Participation in the events — including all travel, lodging, and food expenses — is being funded through sponsorships.