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Difference maker: Wis. farmer heading to DC for Phase III of Young Leader Program

Categories: WSAPublished On: May 3, 20232.3 min read

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Mineral Point farmer Jake Steffes has been selected to participate in the third phase of the American Soybean Association’s Young Leader Program, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.

“I’m happy and honored to be representing Wisconsin in this program,” Steffes, 23, said during a break from spring planting. “It is a great opportunity to learn more about leadership in the ag industry, all while meeting some good people.”

The final phase is held in July in Washington D.C., during ASA’s Board Meeting and semiannual Hill Visits with federal legislators. Steffes will be joined by Wisconsin farmer Taylor Johnson and Don Lutz, who represent the Wisconsin Soybean Association (WSA) on ASA.

Steffes said he’s looking forward to walking the halls of the Capitol and advocating on behalf of Wisconsin soybean farmers. He’s only visited the nation’s capital once, during a high school field trip with his FFA chapter.

“I’ve always wanted to know more about what happens in the Farm Bill and how us as farmers can make our industry better,” he said.

ASA’s longest-running leadership program, Young Leaders was founded in 1984 and continues to set the standard for leadership training in agriculture, identifying and training new, innovative and engaged growers to serve as the voice of the American farmer. Participants commit to attend two training sessions. The first portion is held at Corteva’s headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, while the second of which is held in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic trade show and conference.

Steffes applied to become a Young Leader after encouragement from farm broadcaster Pam Jahnke of the Mid-West Farm Report.

“I knew I wanted to get out there and meet new people and learn about the ag industry,” Steffes said. “I really learned a lot from program and enjoyed meeting the other people in the program.”

The leadership development program is funded in part by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board. Young Leaders not only enhances participants’ skills through leadership, communications and issues-based training, but also builds a strong peer network, generating increased success in their businesses and communities. Many graduates of this training program grow into leadership roles with their state and national soybean associations. Young Leader seminars feature intense coursework designed to enhance leadership skills for the benefit of not only soy but also the entire agricultural industry. Training, open to all ages 21 and up, is interactive and includes evening group activities. This summer, ASA will open the application window for the 2023-2024 Young Leader class. Click here for more information.

Following the D.C. experience, Steffes hopes to continue building his leadership attributes within WSA.

“After completing this program, I feel a lot more confident that I want to be involved,” he said. “Hopefully I can make a difference in our industry.”