DAVID CITY — After two decades living and working as an engineer in St. Louis, Cory Kudlacek returned to help run the family farm three years ago.

“I never left. There’s that saying, ‘You can take the farm boy out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the farm boy,’” he said. “I decided this is what I wanted to really do.”

Kudlacek heard about the Nebraska LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) program run by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council from Jon Brabec of Wahoo, who participated two years ago.

For two years LEAD fellows participate in seminars with workshops on Nebraska, U.S. and international agriculture and receive training in civic engagement and leadership.

The goal of the program is to develop "problem-solvers, decision-makers and spokespersons for agriculture and Nebraska."

Leadership training is one aspect of the program Kudlacek found appealing.

“It really is trying to prepare you for any kind of leadership role in your local community or state,” he said. “From church boards to school board to commodity boards to political office, all with an emphasis in ag and having an impact.”

Kudlacek, one of 30 fellows selected for the 2016-18 program, also hopes to learn more about agriculture across the state.

“I don’t really know what happens past Kearney with Nebraska ag,” he said. “I really don’t have a clue how the western part of the state operates.”

He’s received some of that education already. At the first three-day seminar earlier this month at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus, the group, which includes several people from western Nebraska, got to meet for the first time.

“It’ll be interesting to see how they operate and farm out there,” Kudlacek said.

They also took workshops ranging from time management to farm transitioning.

“We start learning right out of the gate,” Kudlacek said. “There was so much information that it was overwhelming.”

The October seminar will be at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, so he’ll have a chance to see western Nebraska for himself.

Kudlacek said he’s also looking forward to learning more about agriculture on an international level, which the group will study during the second year of the program.

“I want to get a really good understanding of the agriculture outside my community and hopefully gain some leadership skills so I can share with my community,” he said.

While Kudlacek admits he's "still green," he's optimistic about the program and what it will teach him.

“I’m so glad I was selected,” he said. “I’m fortunate to be part of this and learn about Nebraska agriculture.”

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