While many aspects of a leadership program follow the same pattern year after year, change is always on the mind of the coordinator. Fortunately, the International Association of Directors of leadership programs throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and England cooperate fully in keeping directors informed. Dr. Pope works as Executive Secretary of the association and thus stays in close touch with developments elsewhere.
Looking ahead, several aspects of TALL bear close attention. Of primary importance is the progress of Alumni who have completed the program and are capable of taking their experience to the field. It stands to reason that if a large segment of the Alumni fail to take on leadership roles in their communities, or at the state and national levels, then the time and expense of the TALL experience comes to naught.
Alumni then are the key ingredient in progress. The active phase of TALL involvement is but a preparation for the real world. To keep Alumni fully informed, the association is served through the TALL Alumni Counselor’s office within the TALL business location. Frequent personal contacts, regional and statewide meetings, special activities put on by Alums are vigorously encouraged. The Alumni meet annually to elect officers and directors and plot the strategy for the coming year. One of the great benefits for Alumni is the networking that takes place, the sharing of ideas and search for information that occurs almost day by day.
TALL Alumni now number 113, with a new class of 30 coming on stream with the graduation of Class VI in April 1999. They have spread their wings, so to speak, in numerous business and professional organizations. It is of interest that the first two Agricultural Counsels to the Governor’s office have been TALL graduates. Several TALL Alums have assumed national leadership positions, such as aides to Congressmen and Senators. Also, national organizations such as the National Beef Cattleman’s and the National Cotton Council, as well as the Corn Growers and numerous others have TALL graduate in key positions.
Yet the continuing goal of leadership enhancement is not without difficulties. It is understandable that vigorous and progressive young adults are highly mobile, seeking new opportunities and changing positions. Some move out-of-state and that is commendable and TALL’s contribution will still bear fruit elsewhere. It is estimated that probably half or less of TALL graduates move into key leadership roles, but still the TALL experience is useful to nearly every graduate.
Of prime importance is the strong and dedicated support of key state leaders. One cannot say enough about their zeal for TALL and its objectives. An Advisory Board was formed early and has functioned effectively in many ways since. Not only are the Board Members outstanding individuals in their own careers and professions, but they are cognizant of the vast changes taking place in modern agriculture and rural living. They meet several times during the year to scan TALL programs, stay aware of changes taking place and of special importance, assist in finding and encouraging donors to the program. They chose their own Chairman and tenure on the Board is mostly for three-year terms.