THE 2004 class of the Rice Leadership Development Program was announced at the recent USA Rice Outlook Conference in Biloxi, Miss.

The new class members in the producer category are Marvin Cochran of Avon, Miss.; Frank Henderson of Texarkana, Ark.; Heath Long of Tichnor, Ark.; Michael Skalicky of Ganado, Texas; and Ryan Tabb of Cleveland, Miss.

In the industry-related category, new class members are Brian Ottis of Fayetteville, Ark., and Bradley Rodgers of Stuttgart, Ark.

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

The class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals chosen by a committee of agribusiness leaders.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Company and Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., through a grant to The Rice Foundation, and is administered by the USA Rice Federation.

In making the announcement, Rice Foundation Chairman David Van Oss commended the program's sponsors. “The investment in leadership development of young men and women is an invaluable contribution to the future of the entire U.S. rice industry,” Van Oss said.