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History

Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Sponsored ProjectThe Agricultural Leadership Development Program in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at NC State University began in 1984 under the direction of Dr. Bill Toussaint in the Department of Economics and Business (a forerunner to the present day Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics). The program was sponsored by Philip Morris with the target audience being only flue-cured tobacco farmers in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. From its beginning the program focused on developing personal and civic leadership skills in farmers and related agribusiness people. Philip Morris sponsored a similar program at the University of Kentucky for burley tobacco farmers. In 1986 Dr. Bill Collins, Department of Crop Science, became program director and remained so until the end of the Philip Morris Agricultural Leadership Development Program in 2004 when the federal tobacco program ended. Perceiving a continued need for a leadership program devoted to North Carolina Agriculture, Dr. Collins restructured the program to target all types of farms and agribusinesses specifically those in North Carolina. He funded the program through sponsors and grant funding. Dr. Collins has been director or co-director of all the programs since the second one with D.G. Harwood and Billy Caldwell and the help of leadership experts Eleanor Stell and Dr. Lanny Hass. In 2008, Dr. Collins and other agricultural leaders in North Carolina approached the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission about establishing a permanent source of funding for the leadership program. This led to the establishment of a $5 million endowment. The earnings from this endowment now help fund the program. In 2014 Dr. Blake Brown, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, became program director with Dr. Collins continuing to assist with the program. With Eleanor Stell’s full retirement from the program in 2016, Dr. Joy Morgan-Fleming, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, and Dr. Rhonda Sutton, Director of CALS Leadership, will assist with future programs. Dr. Lanny Hass continues to work with the program. Carolyn Bunn provides administrative assistance for the program. Today, the program boasts over 250 alumni, many who hold leadership positions in Agriculture and other sectors.