From the beginning, it was apparent that if TALL were to succeed, it would require the backing of top leaders in Texas agriculture. Accordingly, one of the first moves was to establish an advisory council. The first formal meeting was held in Austin, August 20, 1987, at the Farm Credit Bank, with former Governor Dolph Briscoe as chair. Two dozen of the top leaders of the state were there and enthusiasm ran high. Subsequent meetings have been held annually. A more formal TALL Advisory Board has been in place since 1992.
The advice and council that top drawer leaders bring to TALL is vital in many ways. One of the most valuable contributions comes from years of experience in the real world. They have the background to readily identify the important issues and concerns, and thus help to shape the program and review progress.
Viewed from the national level, the most serious challenge to Leadership Programs is the lack of dependable and adequate funding. TALL shares this problem. It tends to be a high cost program when evaluated on a per person basis. Often it takes an advisory group to front for leadership programs, and they can give a major assist in the solicitation of funds. Currently, the enrollment fee paid by each participant counts for less than 12% of operating costs. Thus, outside support is vital to a successful program. Bear in mind, however, that this enrollment fee does help assure continuing interest and involvement by the TALL participant.
In order to get the most out of each program, an on-campus advisory committee was set in place by the Director. Their mission was to lend a hand with program development, identify speakers, help with arrangements and garner outside support. Thus the Coordinator had the backing of Extension Specialists in building the best program.