Rice News

Leadership Program culminates at the Nation’s Capitol

Nicole Van Vleck February 28, 2012 Nicole Van Vleck 0 comments
Over the last two years, I have participation in the Rice Leadership Development Program run by the USA Rice Foundation. Six other participants from throughout the US rice industry participated in my class. During the two-year program, we visited the Gulf Coast, Arkansas and California. We just returned from our final session in Washington, D.C.

We were all a bit sad as we ended our journey, but also exciting as we start a new one deploying the leadership skills we have recently learned in various forums in the rice industry.

I truly enjoyed being exposed to the different departments at USDA. I also found sitting in the House Agriculture Committee Room getting the latest on the Farm Bill from Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Petersen extremely informative. Visiting our House and Senate representatives and their staff with my California state delegation was also a highlight of the week.

We spent some time viewing the committee and board meetings that were being held during the USA Rice Federation. Seeing firsthand how the Producers and Millers Boards conduct their meetings. We also visited USA Rice Federation office in Virginia and had presentations on the value of Domestic and International Promotion, Media, and Government Affairs directors and managers.

The final week in Washington, D.C. brought the lessons we learned regionally from our first three sessions in the different rice growing states and synthesized those lessons into the broader issues of the national industry. The program helped me realize that although our differences from state to state vary greatly that working together benefits all of us in the long run.

Nicole Montna Van Vleck is a third generation rice farmer who farms with her parents and sister in Sutter County. Nicole is Managing Partner of Montna Farms which grows, dries and stores super premium short grain rice. Montna Farms partners with many waterfowl organizations to protect and enhance waterfowl habitat primarily on its working rice lands.

Nicole is a graduate of UCLA and The California Agricultural Leadership Program. Nicole and her husband Stan have two school-aged children.