The 2005 class of the Rice Leadership Development Program announced in December at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in New Orleans will start its first week of classes in late March in the Gulf Coast area. The classes, to be held in Texas and Louisiana, will emphasize the uniqueness of the Gulf Coast rice industry.

The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of agribusiness leaders from across the rice producing states. The committee evaluates the applications of all candidates, reviews recommendation forms, and conducts personal interviews with the finalists.

The new class members in the producer category are:

Jeff Durand of St. Martinville, La.

David Gairhan of Trumann, Ark.

Don Traynham of Arbuckle, Calif.

Christian Richard of Kaplan, La.

Jeff Rutledge of Newport, Ark.

In the industry-related category, the new class members are:

Philip Bertrand of Elton, La.

Tim Walker of Stoneville, Miss.

The Rice Leadership Development Program provides future leaders a comprehensive understanding of the rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills. During the two-year program, class members attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills through studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. and John Deere Company sponsor the Rice Leadership Development Program through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and the USA Rice Federation administers it.

When Gary Sebree, Rice Foundation chairman, announced the class selection in New Orleans, he commended Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., and John Deere Co. for sponsoring the program. “The investment in leadership development of young men and women is an invaluable contribution to the future of the U.S. rice industry,” Sebree said.