Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 8: The Environmentalist Side of the Chesapeake Bay, Last Day in Seminar.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we boarded the bus which took us to the Philip Merrill Environmental Center, home of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The building is very interesting and unique having been constructed to a Platinum level, "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED).  Numerous green elements are incorporated, for example as we arrived we could see grass growing on the roof  surfaces and large rainwater collection tanks around the building. The water is recycled and used in the washrooms which also featured composting toilets. Class 43 was treated to four presentations in a conference room featuring a spectacular view of the bay.

Our first speaker was Terry Cummings, Manager of Advocacy for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). Terry interestingly told us that he is a graduate of the Maryland LEAD program.  Terry gave us a brief background on how CBF had litigated the fact that the Chesapeake Bay was impaired as to dissolved oxygen and sediment. Therefore, under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, the EPA was required to implement a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nitrigen, phosphorus, and sediment.  CBF prevailed and EPA is now implementing the TMDL. Terry's presentation showed the intended glide path for the reduction of nitrogen discharges to the Bay from  328 mlbs/yr to 187 mlbs/yr by 2025. Calling the TMDL  a "permit to pollute," he articulated CBF's priorities:  1) defend the TMDL, 2) blunt opposition in Congress, and, 3) implement the TMDL saying that this is "Our moment in time" to save the Bay.
Jackie Takacs, Watershed Restoration Specialist for Maryland Sea Grant Extension, spoke about how the co-operative extension is involved with helping farmers and urbans meet the requirements of the law. Her presentation focused on "Restoring our waterways by restoring the watershed."  Baseline information goes all the way back to the 1830's. She also described the process of how excess nutrient discharges promote algae blooms, eutrophication, bad smells, loss of aquatic resources, mohogany tides and more.
Carin Brisland, Associate Director for Partnerships and Accountability for the EPA, presented on the Value of the Partnership Approach to Solving Complex Environmental Problems of the Chesapeake Bay. She was very optimistic and positive about the voluntary partnership aproaches also being promoted by the EPA.
Dr. Jana Davis from the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Trust spoke to us about the efforts of her group to encourage compliance with the TMDL through outreach and grants (about $5 million/year). She led us through some interesting questions about the role of such organizations and asked us to think about areas which we felt they could be focusing more effort.
{Dr. Jana Davis, Chesapeake Bay Trust}
After our morning sessions, we had lunch at Carol’s Creek Cafe where they served excellent crab soup, crab cakes and cinnamon ice cream. Once lunch was finished, we each took a moment to articulate our personal take home message from this Maryland and DC experience.  Many in our class vowed to break the tendency of agriculture always talking to itself. They voiced the strong need to communicate the vision and necessity of California agriculture to the 99%  of the population which is non-agricultural. Some talked about how they will look at family involvement and plans. While others want to get involved on local boards, districts, or government positions.

{Class 43 at Carol's Creek Cafe}
After our two hour ride back to DC, we donned business formal and headed out to the reception at USDA hosted by the CALF program alumni for our class and DC Exchange candidates. This was an excellent event and well done by the CALF program alumni.

The day was complete. Our time together in DC and Maryland was complete. We had some time in the evening for contemplation. We also had time to relax with close friends and relish our week of  inspiration annd learning. 
Presiding Fellows: Scott Klittich, Bailey DiIoia, Chris White

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

DAY 7: Maryland, Here We Come!

We departed D.C. bright and early Tuesday heading east to Maryland.  Our first stop was at the Maryland Department of Agriculture where we received a surprise greeting by Secretary of Agriculture, Earl R. (Buddy) Hance. Secretary Hance spoke to us about the rich agriculture areas of Maryland and provided insight into the agricultural, urban and related environmental challenges that the beloved Chesapeake Bay is facing.
Resource Conservation Assistant Secretary, Royden Powell, and Operations Administrator John Rhoderick, then took over to give us insight into Maryland’s Nutrient Management Regulations and the innovative Nutrient Trading Program, respectively. The regulations were conceived to protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and give landowners the framework on how to document practices and strategies in order to accomplish this. The Nutrient Trading Program was created in order to provide landowners with the ability to establish economic incentives for reductions from all sources within a watershed. The landowner would in essence be able to earn credits for any conservation practices above and beyond what is required and then turn around and sell these credits for profit.

Next, we boarded the bus and our hosts were Rachel Melvin, Executive Secretary for the Maryland Agriculture Commission and Kurt Fuchs, LEAD Maryland Class 4 and Mid Atlantic Farm Credit’s Governmental Affairs Officer. We crossed over Maryland’s famed Bay Bridge and began our farm tour viewing the pristine hydroponic lettuces at Chesapeake Greenhouse, LLC owned and operated by John Maniscalco. John’s passion for his greens was apparent during the tour of his greenhouse!
{Mr. John Maniscalco}
The farm tour continued as we made a stop at Better Day’s Farm owned and operated by Will McNatt. Will is a poultry producer and grows for Amick Farms, a poultry processor. Our next stop at Oakland View Farm, LLC owned and operated by Scott Youse and his father-in-law, Richard Edwards. The milk production process was very new & amazing to all of us! With the exception of our resident dairymen Vance, B and Paul! The visit ended with Richard’s lovely wife, Janice, treating us to delicious refreshments!
Here is a picture of a resident Jersey Cow:

Our farm tours ended with a quick visit to Mr. Phil Callahan’s Farm. Our tour guide was Alison Howard, LEAD Maryland Class 5 & Queen Anne’s County Soil Conservation Asst. The 730-acre grain farm had many field practices that were installed to reduce sediment & nutrient runoff.

We closed the evening attending a reception and dinner at the Fisherman's Inn with LEAD Maryland ( a 2-year leadership fellowship program much like California Ag Leadership.  It was the end of a long day but we were all reinvigorated when CALF President Bob Gray presented the popular, "Inside the Leader's Office" featuring Mr. Jim Perdue of Perdue Farms (  Mr. Perdue discussed many facets of leadership wisdom including emotional intelligence, the importance of company culture and how much he truly valued the 360 Feedback.  He seemed to be speaking the language of Ag Leadership!
{Mr. Jim Perdue and Mr. Bob Gray)
It was a busy day for us and it was great visiting fellow farmers and learning about their challenges and successes, which are not unlike our own.
Presiding Fellows: Jensen Devaurs, B VanBeek and Susan Josue

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 6: Snow and Sleet in DC

Monday provided the class a unique opportunity.  We started the day at Georgetown University, visiting Father Matt Carnes.  Father Carnes is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government, and is a specialist in comparative economics.  He’s also spent a great deal of time in Latin and South America.  Father Carnes discussed the inequalities of the poor and marginalized throughout the world, specifically the inequalities faced by the poor in Brazil.  He provided a view into the basis for the inequality and the determination of the current government to balance the playing field and to begin to improve the quality of life of this group.  We learned that Brazil’s creation of Bolsa Familia and the success of this program has become a beacon and model for other governments throughout the region to address this issue.  Bolsa Familia is a government supported conditional cash transfer program for doing “good things” such as immunizations and ensuring school attendance.  Father Carnes also discussed micro finance, which has been instrumental to small business in the developing world.

After visiting with Father Carnes, the Class enjoyed lunch at The Tombs, a Georgetown eating institution.

Our second visit was to the Watergate Complex to visit Marshall Matz, Principal Attorney, of Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman, and Matz, a law firm specializing in FDA and USDA issues.  As a specialist in food, agriculture, and nutrition, Marshall has dedicated his career to increasing food production and improving human nutrition.  Along with other partners and policy advisors, including former Secretary of Agriculture for the Reagan Administration, John R. Block, Marshall provided us with a compelling argument as to methods in which to discuss agriculture with elected officials and the public, both supporters and opponents.  To quote Marshall, “We need to convince the public of how good of a deal their food is”.  Furthermore, as a group of agricultural professionals, it is imperative that we spend more time addressing the influencers in society that may not understand the net positive effects of agriculture.

Our third stop brought us to the Department of the Interior, where we had the opportunity to meet with Commissioner Mike Connor.  Commissioner Conner shared his enduring passion with water in the West and has spent the majority of his career working on water issues that are critical to agriculture in our state.  Looking at the overwhelming issues that surround water in California, he encouraged us to collaborate with all stakeholders and continue to seek solutions that will result in a win-win situation for all parties.

After a long day in the abnormally brisk DC weather, we were fortunate to dine at Brazilian churrascaria, Fogo de Chao.  The variety of grilled meats, pickled vegetables, leafy green salad bar, and delicious desserts, were trumped by the attendance of our surprise guest, Dennis Nuxoll, Vice-President for Federal Government Affairs for Western Growers.  We were honored to have Dennis with us, and would like to thank Western Growers for their continued support of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 5: Sunday Funday

Today is duped Sunday Funday, and as such, we began the day at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown DC for a lively and inspiring Palm Sunday Service. The worship service included lively music and song, under the direction of the renowned Reverend Ronald E.Braxton, Senior Pastor.

The church was founded in 1838, in the District of Columbia. It is the oldest A.M.E. Church in Washington, DC, the nation's capital. The church represents the 1870's merger of two A.M.E. congregations, Israel Bethel (1821) and Union Bethel (1838), a stop on the Underground Railroad. The name "Metropolitan" was officially designated and recognized by the general A.M.E. Church in 1872.
{Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church}
Reverend Braxton delivered an inspiring sermon under the theme, “The Art of Overcoming.” He delivered some powerful messages that align completely with the themes of leadership that we are learning.  His simple, yet serendipitous message:
  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Believe in what you stand for
  3. Master the ability to overcome
One notable thing that the Reverend referenced was: “Learn how to take it and don’t let them see you sweat.”  He explained that overcoming difficult situations is not easy and you have to practice, have faith and believe in yourself above all else. A very powerful and relevant leadership lesson.

After church let out, we had our first free day of the trip!  Everyone dispersed and had plans in place to recharge, meet with friends or spend time at leisure learning more about the history of the area.  Some notable areas visited were the Spy Museum and Smithsonian.  And some people took a much needed afternoon cat nap!

{Above: Smithsonian American Art Museum}
{Below: International Spy Museum}
That evening, the class and guests congregated for an evening Monument Tour.  The weather did not prevail (as has been the theme for the trip) and turned into freezing cold ice/snow/rain mid trip.  However, most of us were troopers and made it until the very end!  We were very lucky to have a few alumni in town for the DC Exchange Program join us, including fellow Anthony Bozzano’s brother Leno...and  keeping in the family theme, we also had fellow Shannon Leigh’s mom & sister join as well! 
We toughed it out despite the inclimate weather and saw some amazing sites!  Our first stop was the WWII Memorial.  Our next stops were the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial.  We finished off the tour with an amazing trip to the Korean, Lincoln & Vietnam War memorials and on our drive home we had an amazing view of the White House.

{Above: Candid photo of Class 43 & Family at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial}
{Below: Class 43 Fellows Bill Lewis, Eric Genzoli, Leon Etchepare and Chris White}
We especially loved the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as he was a farmer and lover of books!  The FDR Memorial has Four Rooms that represent the themes of: Optimism, Depression, New Deal  & War.  He also had a very cute statuette of his dog.  The MLK Memorial is only 1 year old and an amazing depiction of a civil rights hero.  The Korean War Memorial had an illuminating depiction of 19 soldiers walking in the rain and was eerily reminiscent of the War.  Abraham Lincoln’s Memorial was an astounding 19 feet tall and the Vietnam War Memorial is a continuous reminder of the hero’s that have been injured or died for our country in service, with an overflow of gifts, visits and admiration from those that commemorate the memorial. 

All in all, a more laid back day than most, but still one filled with a resounding message about adversity, courage, and hope.  Seeing the leadership lesson in every visit and choice the fellows made was ever present and the midday downtown allowed for some much needed reflection. J

Content Contributed by Presiding Fellows:  Danielle Burke,  Shannon Leigh and Jim McGarry

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Day 4 - Reliving The American Civil War

We began the day with a 6:15 am departure from our hotel, to meet our battlefield guide in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania.  Over breakfast our guide, Bruce Rice started with an orientation on what to expect during our tour of Gettysburg and began to explain the relevance of leadership as it pertains to The Battle.

Bruce had us split into four teams of six, where we were tasked to reenact scenes from the war at specific locations throughout the battlefield.  These scenes were complete with dialogue, some minor props and prompts for emotions to help us capture the feeling of our named characters.  This proved to be exceedingly helpful in gaining a more concrete understanding for the context of the dialogue, as it pertained to specific scenarios during the bloody and treacherous three day battle at Gettysburg.   It was helpful that our guide had an extensive background in history, as well as an very good comprehension of Class 43's current curriculum   This proved helpful in understanding how principles of EQ or "Emotional Intelligence" were in play, and what styles of leadership were both effective, and ineffective.

Our guide's explanation also helped explain how Resonant Leadership played a vital role in the outcome of the war.  In the book "Primal Leadership" by Dr. Annie McKee, she discusses how dissonant leaders are dangerous to the idea of resonant leadership.  This manifestation was no better seen, than in General Sickles insubordination to specific orders by General Mead, which results in unintended consequences of a catastrophic loss of life.  This deliberate act, almost costs The North the war.  We even began to think about other concepts that were introduced at our most recent seminar in Fresno, such as Dr. Candice Skrapec's lecture at our last seminar in Fresno on "The Biology of Impulsivity."  With all of this information, it's our assertion, that General Sickles underwent a malfunction of the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex!  For those folks unfamiliar with with Dr. Skarpec's lectures, this is the area of our brain for decision making.  Any malfunction of this area in the brain, can result in impulsive behavior.

As we concluded our 14.5 hour day, we had an opportunity to reflect with the group on what we've learned over the last few days on the East Coast.  This day, without question has furthered our comprehension of how all decisions that are made, be it big or small, has an affect on all levels.  And as basic as that concept is, it still remains to be one of the most powerful leadership lessons of all.  

Content contributed by Presiding Fellows Carson Britz, Helen McGrath, Eric Genzoli

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 3: Washington DC - Govt Agencies

Pentagon Visit
Class 43 started day three with a visit to the Pentagon, hosted by a contingent from the Department of National Security Studies and the Agribusiness Industry Studies at the Eisenhower School of the National Defense University.  We were presented with a new Department of Defense (DOD) program that is a proactive, joint effort with foreign countries that trains them for emergency responses/natural disasters.  The presenters emphasized the importance of agriculture, cost minimization and improving the capacity of the partner countries self-response for these types of events.  A great example was the complexity of the DOD’s response to Japan’s disaster, involving nuclear experts, troops on the ground and supply logistics.  We were also given a brief but impactful tour of the Pentagon, highlighted by a visit to the 9-11 Memorial that’s located where the plane hit the Pentagon. Our host, Colonel Lee Smith, described the view from the room’s windows as the plane skimmed a hotel roof and then hit the spot where we were standing, providing an eerie reminder of that historic morning. 

EPA Visit
Following the Pentagon visit, we went to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where we met with Sarah Bittleman, Senior Agricultural Counselor to the Administrator, as well as EPA staff and management from EPA’s pesticides, air and water programs. Ms. Bittleman, who served as a senior advisor to USDA Secretary Vilsack prior to joining EPA, stressed that while the Class was in DC to learn more about government agencies and institutions, the very people from those agencies also needed to hear from and learn from the Class about agriculture. We discussed how important it is for agriculture to explain what it does to the general public, and shared that the class project that we are going to complete later this year is a career fair that will introduce youth to different aspects of the agricultural industry.

USDA Visit
After visiting with various representatives from the EPA, Class 43 fellows headed to the United States Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA). We met with eight representatives, many of whom are California natives. We were given a brief introduction to the programs, policies and departments that the USDA handles.  Each speaker addressed a different “hot topic” in agriculture including, local and regional foods, labor, the farm bill, and organic agriculture. While speaking on their specialty, many of the speakers also shared with us leadership roles they play in their departments, as well as leadership it took for them to get to their current roles, including many skills that we have been working on through Ag Leadership. The presentations and speakers were organized by Franz Hochstrasser who has been working with the foundation to coordinate the visit at USDA and was a participant in the DC exchange. It was really encouraging to hear representatives from USDA talk about how California Agriculture is at the forefront of UDSA issues.

Kennedy Center PerformanceAfter a day of expanding our intellectual understanding of various issues that impact agriculture, we went to a jazz performance at the Kennedy Center that exposed us to a new artistic experience. The performance fuzzed Indian classical music and Greek cultural songs with traditional jazz sounds, was incredibly enjoyable, and helped us appreciate diversity through a different lens than what we usually use during our seminars.

Presiding Fellows: Sona Chilingaryan, Stephanie Etcheverria, William Lewis

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 2: Washington, D.C.

Class 43 hit the ground running on a crisp morning in Washington, D.C.  Our first stop was the Capitol Visitor's Center to meet with Congressman John Garamendi (D-California, 3rd) for a breakfast meeting.  Congressman Garamendi talked to the class about the importance of citizens taking time to contemplate the role of government.  He feels that once the citizenry is able to articulate what they want from our government we will be on track to move our nation forward.  The Congressman also took questions from the class regarding issues facing specialty crops in California, regulatory issues that are directly affecting agriculture, and the current debate over the future of water in California.

{Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer}
We moved from the Capitol to the Supreme Court where we had the incredible opportunity to meet with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.  Justice Breyer spoke to the class about the mechanics of the Supreme Court including a discussion on how the court decides what cases to hear.  At the heart of his talk, however, was the importance of  educating our children about history and civics.  Justice Breyer then took questions from the class that addressed a variety of topics including the role of court decisions on our democracy, the organizational culture of the Supreme Court and how that culture changes with new appointees, and the changing perception of confirmation hearings over the past twenty years.  This meeting was certainly a highlight of the day.  Justice Breyer's passion for the law and American government was certainly felt and his call for involvement in our communities spoke to us all.

We left the court and headed to the Longworth Building where we had lunch in the cafeteria.  It was a wonderful opportunity to take a "sneak peak" at the hustle and bustle that happens on an average workday at the Capitol.  After lunch we ventured up to the main hearing room for the House Agriculture Committee to visit with representatives and staff.  Our first meeting was with Legislative Director/Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Devin Nunes (R-California, 22nd) Damon Nelson.  Mr. Nelson spoke to us about his leadership path into the position he currently holds.  Next we had the opportunity to talk with Congressman David Valadao (R-California, 21st).  Congressman Valadao spoke to us about the need for California agriculture to be at the table with respect to the Farm Bill to ensure that our industry is represented.  In addition, he spoke about his new proposed legislation pertaining to California dairies.  Congressman Jeff Denham (R-California, 10th) joined the class and discussed the controversial high speed rail project, its impact on farmland and his concern about the lack of funds.  He will soon be holding hearings on this subject.

{Congressman Jim Costa and Class 43}
Congressman Jim Costa (D-California, 16th) spoke about how moderates have become an endangered species because so few are left in Congress and how that makes it difficult for the two sides to agree.  On a lighter note, Congressman Costa discovered our classmate, Paul Sousa, is a fellow Portuguese-American and briefly spoke with him in Portuguese before heading out.  Last, Congressman Sam Farr (D-California, 20th) also came by to talk with the class.  Two Class 43 members Shannon Leigh and Danielle Dupree are among his constituents.  Shannon thanked the Congressman for his work in revitalizing Fort Ord (former military base).  Danielle D. raised the issue of immigration and the Congressman agreed that it is an issue that needs to be addressed.  In addition, he talked about work/life balance given that he's spent many years flying back and forth between California and D.C. and has been married for 45 years!

Some fellows of Class 43 had the opportunity to visit the State Department to meet with Mr. Jerry White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Partnerships and Learning in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization and Operations (CSO).  Mr. White's session was an excellent "real world" example of the leadership lessons we have been learning in our seminars.  He talked about conflict-transforming leadership where the "ultimate goal is to align what we do, why we do it, and who we are - our Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom."  By guiding his field staff to approach their mission to break cycles of violence using the conflict-transforming leadership model above, the CSO is able to mobilize local forces and garner funding through alternative resources to create a solution that is strategic, responsive and results-driven.  At present the CSO is working in more than 20 countries including Syria, Kenya, Honduras, and Burma.  Of the session, fellow Susan Josue commented, "I very much respected Mr. White's passion for his work.  He is clearly committed to his mission and it was wonderful to see our leadership lessons in practice."

{Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein}
The class regrouped and met up at the Hart Senate Office Building to meet with Chris Thompson, Legislative Director for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California).  Mr. Thompson spoke to the class about his role in the office and the Senator's work for the state of California.  He spoke of the Senator's leadership style and how that creates a positive and productive office, her ability to bridge differences to make effective policy, and promote change and her commitment to California agriculture.  Mr. Thompson also took questions from the class where we spoke on a wide range of topics from immigration to work/life balance.

We ended the day at a dinner with the Leadership Wisconsin group (  It was a great opportunity to meet up with fellow leaders to hear about how their organization works.  Reflecting upon the events of the day, Class 43 fellow Eric Genzoli commented, "All of the meetings today were a great example of how our participation in Ag Leadership provides us the opportunity to learn about policymaking in Washington D.C.  I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in this program and this experience is one I will never forget."

Presiding Fellows: Manpreet Bains, Leon Etchepare, and Tricia Geringer