The 2010 Rice Leadership Development class, announced during the USA Rice Outlook Conference, is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals selected by a committee of agribusiness leaders. Candidates must be 25 to 45 years old at the time of application and derive their primary livelihood from some aspect of the rice industry.

The new rice-producer class members are Alex Clark, Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Matthew Fielke, Stuttgart, Ark.; Shannon Harrington, Iowa, La.; Nicole Van Vleck, Sacramento, Calif.; and Jim Whitaker, McGehee, Ark.

The new industry-related class members are Andy Morris, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Dan Squires, Yuba City, Calif.

“This new rice leadership class will help shape the future of the industry and with the selection of this group, we can be confident that that future will be bright,” USA Rice Foundation Chairman Marvin Hare said.

Many Rice Leadership Development Class alumni are currently serving in key positions on various industry boards and committees, including Brain King, chairman of the USA Rice Merchants’ Association, as well as Paul Combs, Charley Mathews and Linda Raun, all members of the USA Rice Federation executive committee.

The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communications training. During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen their leadership skills.

Alumni of the Rice Leadership Development program are eligible to participate in a new international program session made possible with the addition of RiceTec Inc. as a sponsor of the program this year.

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