The Oct. 5 application deadline for the Rice Leadership Development Program’s next class is rapidly approaching. The program provides a comprehensive overview of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills.

Applicants must demonstrate leadership potential, derive their primary livelihood as rice producers or from a rice industry-related occupation, and be 25- to 45-years-old at the time of application.

Each class is composed of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a selection committee of rice leaders. The committee evaluates candidate applications and selects finalists for personal interviews. The new class is announced at the USA Rice Outlook Conference.

Over a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills.

Session one is conducted in the Gulf Coast rice-growing regions of Texas and Louisiana. Session two provides an overview of the Arkansas rice industry as well as visits to the Chicago Board of Trade and John Deere’s World Headquarters in Moline, Ill. Session three examines the California rice industry and Session four is held in Washington, D.C., where class members participate in meetings with legislators and administration offices.

During the leadership program, participants receive training in communication skills, business etiquette, public speaking and media relations.

More than 160 young men and women have completed the program. Many are serving in leadership roles in local, state and national rice organizations. Leadership program graduates also are eligible to apply for an international session, like the 2013 international session which will be held in Japan and South Korea.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company, RiceTec Inc. and American Commodity Company through The Rice Foundation and managed by the USA Rice Federation. Producers and industry members with an interest in contributing to the long-term viability of the U.S. rice industry are encouraged to apply.

For more information, contact Chuck Wilson, at (870) 673-7541, cwilson@usarice.com, or visit www.usarice.com and click on the 2014 Rice Leadership Development Program icon.