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MidWeek Staff

Growing Future Agriculture Leaders

By Kim Coffee-Isaak, executive director, ALFH

Since 1982, the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii (ALFH) has supported the development of effective leaders in agriculture, natural resources and rural communities through the multiyear, multidisciplinary Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP). ALFH also hosts the Hawaii Agriculture Conference, which features educational and networking opportunities for Hawaii’s agricultural producers and professionals. ALFH was founded to support the transformation from a plantation culture to diversified agriculture, and serves all facets of agriculture from small to large, organic to biotech, while reaching government, nonprofits and educational institutions. ALFH programs increase knowledge, teach skills and grow networks.

More than 150 ALP alumni have contributed to Hawaii’s agriculture sector. Many have important leadership rolls in their companies, as well as industry organizations including the Hawaii Papaya Association, Hawaii Farm Bureau county chapters, Tropical Fruit Association and Hawaii Ag Tourism Association. The ALP roster includes university extension agents, researchers and teachers in state and federal agencies and nonprofits. The diversity of this group is unique and powerful. These agricultural leaders harness the rich history and abundant natural resources of the Islands to identify and steward our values and common goals for Hawaii agriculture.

The greatest challenge of an organization such as this is bringing together, understanding and supporting the breadth and depth of Hawaii’s agriculture production styles and beliefs.

Collaboration with a focus on common challenges and opportunities takes perseverance and a clear, consistent effort to remain open and respectful of all points of view. It is within this effort that ALFH finds its greatest assets, as problems tackled by in-tune leaders are wins that grow a resilient community. This approach is a core tenet of the ALFH Leadership Training Program and the Hawaii Agriculture Conference.

This conference, taking place Sept. 20-21 at Hawaii Convention Center, is an excellent opportunity for people from all walks of life to connect, learn from one another and plan a prosperous future for agriculture in Hawaii. There is much to do when you work in agriculture; it’s frequently a very tasty and satisfying endeavor! To learn more, visit agleaderhi.org. To register for the conference, go to hawaiiagconference.org.

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