MONTEREY, Sept. 16, 2021 – Twenty-four individuals have been selected for Class 51 of the California Agricultural Leadership Program, an advanced leadership development experience for emerging agricultural leaders. The new fellows will be inaugurated into the program on Oct. 14 at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.

Through dynamic seminars during an intensive 17-month program, fellows will study leadership theory, effective communication, motivation, critical and strategic thinking, change management, emotional intelligence and complex social and cultural issues. Seminars are delivered by four partner universities: Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Fresno State and UC Davis. Fellows will participate in approximately 55 seminar days, including a 10-day national travel seminar and a 14-day international travel seminar.

“The California Ag Leadership Foundation (CALF) grows leaders who make a difference and go on to lead in agriculture, their businesses, communities and families,” said CALF President and CEO Dwight Ferguson. “We recruit a diverse and inclusive set of fellows who represent a broad cross section of the California ag industry and the state’s population.”

CALF invests more than $50,000 per fellow to participate in the program, which is underwritten by individual and industry donations. Ag Leadership is considered to be one of the premier leadership programs in the United States. Since it was first delivered in 1970, more than 1,300 men and women have participated in the program and have become influential leaders and active volunteers in agriculture and other areas.

Class 51 Fellows:

Scott Berndt, RUSD Food Hub

Jake Cecil, Sunsweet Growers Inc. 

Nick Escobar, G3 Enterprises 

John Gardiner, Gardiner Farms 

Matan Goldberg, Agriculture Capital

Tom Gore, Constellation Brands

Mylène Hermier, Duckhorn Portfolio 

Carrie Isaacson, Broadhead

Betsy Karle, University of California Cooperative Extension

Miguel Lizarraga, Naraghi Farms

Victor Lopez, Yara North America

Ahna Miller, Driscoll’s

Kel Mitchel, Renewable Resources Group

Charlotte Mitchell, California Farmland Trust 

J. Scott Petersen, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority

Jessica Saltzman, Farm Credit West 

Kevin Souza, Harris Woolf Almonds

Ryan Stapleton, Delicato Family Vineyards

Donglan Tian, Bayer

Marlene Velasquez, Rumiano Cheese

Darcy Vlot, Vlot Calf Ranch Inc., Cross Creek Farms

Will Weiss, Bella Vista Farming Company

Debbie Willmann, Index Fresh

Jarett Zonneveld, Alta California