Looking back, its hard to identify the best and most informative sessions in each TALL offering. Obviously, the impact varies depending on individual need and experience.
For some in Class I, it could have been the trip to the lower Valley, projecting the dryland agriculturalists into a new world with the sight of 80 acres of sugar cane being fired before harvest. A close look at environmental problems near San Angelo may have been the highlight for others. An excursion down the busy ship channel at Houston certainly was an eye-opener for many from mid-Texas. A sawmill operation near Tyler, or 50,000 cattle on feed near Amarillo, surely caught the attention of those from other parts of the state.
But visitations and local scenes, popular as they are, may miss the main purpose of TALL. Looking back, alumni may have learned more from the comments of speakers – each an outstanding individual and a skilled professional. Sharing in the give-and-take sessions in an informal atmosphere was mind-stretching to many. A remark from an industry leader might be long remembered. From these brief encounters, future leaders often gain the insight and perception needed to meet real world challenges.
Best of all, as has been true continually in TALL, is the interaction that takes place among members, thus making it a true lifetime experience. This may have the greatest lasting impact. The young leaders accepted for membership in TALL are themselves, well-informed in their own special fields. Sharing ideas and information, often in an informal setting after hours, may well be the best of all educational experiences. For spouses, who were invited to attend three sessions, a better understanding of the objectives of the program and what is required may have helped avoid conflicts at home.
Exposure to controversial issues via the best minds of invited speakers, debating issues that normally would be foreign to a focused mind, is one of the great legacies of TALL. Some of the topics are deliberately selected to be completely outside the realm of everyday experience. They might never be considered otherwise, given the demands of daily life. But without this mind-stretching exposure to critical social and cultural issues, the knowledge-base of many leaders is ill-suited for combat with a better informed adversary.