Dr. Hannah Carter grew up surrounded by the potato fields of Aroostook County, Maine. She graduated 1995 with a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Upon graduation, she began her career with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE) working within Maine’s potato industry. In 1999, she graduated with her M.S. in agricultural education and communication from the University of Florida and in 2004 she earned her Ph.D. from UF in agricultural leadership. She currently is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. Within this appointment, she is the Director of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, a leadership development program for individuals involved in Florida’s agriculture and natural resource industries. In addition to this, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership development and continues her research on leadership programming. She also conducts leadership workshops and presentation throughout Florida, and the nation, for various organizations and industries. She is also the interim director for the UF/IFAS Center for Leadership.
By Hannah Carter, Ph.D
Director, Wedgworth Leadership Institute
Never before has there been more of a leadership need then there is today. American politics aside, if we just focus on the leadership needs within Florida agriculture and natural resources we could easily be overwhelmed. The average age of the Floridian farmer continues to rise—where is the next generation of agriculturists coming from? If the amount of new construction is any indication that the economy has regained momentum, the rural versus urban issue should regain its status as a high priority concern since the development of agricultural lands has consequences on both natural resources and production agriculture. We have not even mentioned water issues, immigration, Cuba, food safety, regulations, etc. While these areas of concern exist, none can deny the fact that Florida’s agriculture and natural resources add to the economy, the landscape and what makes Florida a great place to call home.
So while there is a critical need for individuals to step up and tackle these issues, we have a cadre of leaders around the state who have graduated from the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources (WLIANR) and who have taken on additional leadership roles to address these challenges—but with the work that needs to be done—we need more individuals who are willing to rise to the challenge, to further develop their leadership skills and who will utilize these skills to ensure the future of our agricultural and natural resource industries.
But leadership development is more than furthering the knowledge, skills and abilities of individuals. We need to go beyond development to application—how can our agricultural and natural resource leaders utilize their influence in their industries, communities and organizations to help make sound policy decisions? How can we best communicate with a public that is at least three generations removed from the farm or who think that a supply of fresh water is limitless?
To aid in answering these questions and more—the WLIANR is pleased to partner with the PIE Center to not only conduct research on the critical issues impacting Florida agriculture and natural resources, but to also provide a holistic approach to identifying issues, setting agendas, building consensus, communicating messages and influencing decisions. This is the application piece of the leadership puzzle that is critical and makes this program stand out from the 35 other programs like it across the country.
Class X of the WLIANR will begin in September of 2016. This class will experience 12 study travel seminars that will take them around the state, the nation and the world. If you would like to be considered for the program, or know of someone who you think would be a great candidate, please go to our website, www.wedgworthleadership.com and nominate them. More information on the program can also be found on this site.
While there is a critical need for leadership to tackle the issues facing agriculture and natural resources, we are fortunate that there are programs like the WLIANR and PIE Center and people willing to enhance their leadership capacities through participation in our combined efforts for the betterment of all Florida agriculture and natural resources. If you know one of these people, please nominate them today!
Learn more about the research that the Wedgworth Leadership Institute and the PIE Center did in partnership with each other in order to identify emerging issues within the agricultural industry:Wedgworth Leadership Institute explores emerging issues in agriculture