Darcy Vlot (Class 51)


Darcy Vlot (51) is the CFO of three first-generation, family-owned ag operations: Vlot Calf Ranch Inc, Cross Creek Farms and Dairyland Huller. She and her husband, Case, own and manage 3,000 acres in Chowchilla. The ranches encompass a cattle feed lot and custom calf ranch for dairy and beef calves; dairy facility; almond huller; and the cultivation of crops such as corn, wheat, alfalfa and almonds. As CFO, Darcy is responsible for the financial aspects such as accounts payables and receivables, accounting records and capital expenditure decisions. Born and raised on a dairy farm in Los Banos, her roots in agriculture run deep. She actively contributes to her community and is involved in various organizations, including the Tenaya Guild of Valley Children’s Hospital, her local church and as the dairy leader for Alview-Dairyland 4-H. Darcy graduated from Chapman University with a degree in social sciences. She commenced from the California Agricultural Leadership Program in 2023. 


In what ways did the program’s teachings and experiences enable you to make a greater impact in agriculture and beyond? 
The Ag Leadership Program enabled me to take ownership of the roles in my life. After commencing, I have really focused on improving and developing myself so I can better serve the people in my world and agriculture. The greatest impact that I can possibly have on the ag industry is by being a good leader in my home, starting at the center and building upon this foundation. The program has given me the insight and opportunity to do just that. Outside of my business life, the chance to be better happens every day as a parent. Ag Leadership showed me how to attain more self-awareness and how to harness my emotional intelligence in a way that will enrich my personality and shortcomings. By developing my leadership skills in this way, it not only helps me reinforce myself and my home life, but that also gets integrated in my ag business management and community involvement.   

Share an example of something you were uniquely able to do because of the program.
Being able to share with others my experience and my growth as an ag leader has been a privilege to do so in this forum. By gaining more confidence in my leadership skills through the Ag Leadership, I was able to use my self-awareness journey and experience to help develop a women’s mentoring ministry in my local church. In this ministry, women get to connect with other women mentors through shared experiences; they then can be supported through prayer and have someone they can talk to without judgment or criticism. 

How are you strengthening California agriculture through your practiced leadership? Why is doing so important to you?
California agriculture is strengthened because they have a leader in me who has grown in self and has done the work to enhance leadership skills to use in my industry. California agriculture needs leaders who are strong in their convictions, have solid integrity and are authentic in personality. This industry needs leaders who can also be humble enough to see their own mistakes, honest enough to own those mistakes and vulnerable enough to engage in acquiring a better understanding of their own self-awareness. Ag Leadership helped me sharpen these specific qualities; doing so gave me the confidence, as a woman in the ag industry, to use my voice to ask questions, share opinions and engage. Through my involvement in Ag Leadership, I am better able to represent myself with a bit more refinement. I believe that I am so much more capable and equipped to represent the ag industry after going through the program.   

The Ag Leadership Program includes a focus on self-reflection through self-assessments and other instruments. How did these make you a more effective and authentic leader? 
The incredible, enriching journey of the Ag Leadership Program focuses on developing you as a person so you can then be a servant leader in all facets of your life. The emotional IQ, personality assessments and the 360 workplace reports were the beginning of understanding how I perceive myself and how I may be perceived by others. The first step in the process is to be vulnerable enough to accept those attributes that may be holding you back and humble enough to embrace your strengths and use them to the best of your ability going forward. The coaching aspect with Dr. Peggy Perry was a huge step in pursuing harmony in my personal and professional life by prioritizing the “big rocks.” This was encouraging and empowering to know that with consistent change, through vital behaviors to reach those goals, I could truly grow as a person.   

What personal and professional values do you carry through your life and how do those show up in your leadership?
I think adaptability is a necessity to daily life. Especially in the ag sector, whether you are dealing with cattle, land or people, challenges or changes come fast and being able to adapt to situations and transition accordingly to benefit all involved is crucial. I also believe being authentic and honest are values that serve not only yourself but those around you. If these values of integrity are sincere to your character, they will only be highlighted when you are put in a leadership role and the opposite of that will be true as well. Holding strong to these values consistently also shows resilience to unnecessary situations that only capitalize on negative outcomes instead of positive ones. 

In what ways did your participation in the program help you to be a more empathetic, authentic and effective leader? How has your understanding of your specific role as a leader changed since the program? 
Before participating in Ag Leadership, I didn’t know I was missing something in my life. I didn’t know I needed the fellowship that I received from my Class 51 cohorts. The connections at the seminars – local and beyond – helped me engage and find a common thread with my classmates through their stories, opinions and viewpoints. My leadership has changed through my communication; not in the traditional role of speaking, like I was used to, but by being a better active listener. A huge realization for me is not everything needs a reaction; most times you can sit in that space and decide whether a response is necessary or not.   

How do you continue to invest in your continued growth through lifelong learning?
Just being an an Ag Leadership alum is such an important invested role in our ag industry. I am humbled at every opportunity when people approach me and ask about my journey. Getting to share my Ag Leadership story with them is a reeducation for me every time. I have been sharpening the sword with audible readings, such as “Atomic Habits,” “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “Own Your Past Change Your Future,” “Men, Women and Worthiness” and “The Power to Change.” I was not much of a reader before the program, but that has changed. Leaders are readers! I also journal what I am grateful for on weekly basis and pray daily to keep me progressing towards my personal goals. This keeps me grounded and collected. 

How has your view of the world around you changed and impacted your development as a leader since participating in the program?
My view of the world hasn’t necessarily changed, but maybe how I react to it is a truer statement. I was getting to be more cynical of humans and our society after the pandemic occurred. Now, I tend to go back to my roots of a place of humble curiosity to learn more about the situation before I have any preconceived notions or judgements. Ag Leadership has given me the courage to ask sincere questions of people, places and communities that I may not fully understand. Thoughtful regard can lead me to a more enlightened world of cultures and diversities that should be celebrated, especially if it is something that I am not naturally familiar with. Everyone has a story that should be heard.  

What would you tell a prospective applicant to inspire them to apply to the program?
Do it! What are you waiting for? If you feel like increasing your natural leadership capabilities and are willing to get vulnerable with yourself, you could very well find some answers to internal questions that will have exponential benefits to you and your loved ones. Apply and challenge your status quo.