Leadership in the cotton industry is a lot like irrigation water. Assuring a continuous supply is the number one priority.

This is the rationale behind the National Cotton Council's Cotton Leadership Program, an intense, 30-day, short-course which introduces young people to the political, governmental and research-driven machinations that influence their operations. The CLP is funded through The Cotton Foundation via a grant from DuPont Agricultural Products.

Each year, a 10-member class is selected representing the cotton industry's seven segments, including four producers from each region of the Cotton Belt. The deadline for nominations for the 2003/2004 Cotton Leadership Class is July 1, 2003, which is fast-approaching.

The Leadership Development Committee, which consists of former Council chairmen, officers and directors, will select the class based on their review of the applications. According to John Gibson, the Council's director of member services, the selection is normally made in mid- to late-July.

After selection, “the class is involved in five, one-week sessions designed to give the class a thorough understanding of the U.S. raw cotton industry,” Gibson said. “We expose them to each segment and schedule meetings along the way with some of the industry's top leaders so the class can get a good understanding of the role that leadership plays in our industry.”

The classes are also shown the importance of public and private research. “We spend a lot of time at experiment stations, and we just finished a trip to DuPont's headquarters in Wilmington, De. They spend time with Cotton Incorporated in Raleigh, N.C., and New York.”

The class also spends a week with John Maguire, the Council's senior vice president, Washington operations, “to understand the legislative process and how the Council works to implement legislation and represent the industry. It's a very comprehensive program.”

Each new group begins activities at the NCC's mid-year board meeting. Other week-long sessions generally are held in October, December, February, April and July, plus a two-day graduation/evaluation session at the following mid-year board meeting.

To apply for the next class, call the National Cotton Council at 901-274-9030 or apply on-line at http://leadership.cotton.org. 2003/04 class applications must be postmarked on or before July 1, 2003.

To be eligible candidates must:

  • Derive their primary livelihood from one of the industry's seven segments — producer, ginner, warehouseman, cooperative, merchant, crusher or manufacturer.

  • Be between the ages of 30 and 45 on or before July, 2003. Any previous applicant aged 27-30 remains eligible for the program until reaching 45 years of age.

  • Have approval of employers, or if self-employed, offer evidence that time away from their operations will not be a handicap.

  • Agree to attend all sessions (approximately 35 days of travel), except in time of illness or family emergency. All sessions are planned in accordance with the program curriculum.

  • Agree to complete all required reports and evaluations in a timely manner.