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NIAA Selects Inaugural Cohort for New Leadership Program

National Institute for Animal Agriculture Selects Inaugural Cohort for New Leadership Program

Ambassadors for the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders to advance animal agriculture will meet in February.

Manhattan, Kans., Feb. 3, 2022 – The inaugural class participating in the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s (NIAA) Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders have been selected and will convene Feb. 8-10, 2022.

NIAA is providing an opportunity for emerging leaders in agriculture to gain next-level leadership and professional development training specifically focused on the animal agriculture segment of the industry. Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders is sponsored by the United Soybean Board and was created by NIAA to empower professionals in the early to midpart of their careers to build on previous leadership development experiences and collaborate with peers across the industry.

The 16-month program, concluding with a capstone project, combines five in-person meetings with additional virtual working sessions and focuses on four areas of development: critical thinking, leadership development, connecting and relating skills, and operational excellence.

“Part of NIAA’s mission is to foster collaboration and cooperation throughout the industry, and we intentionally developed this program to build upon existing leadership experiences, so professionals advance their leadership and, specifically, collaboration skills,” said Kevin Maher, NIAA Chairman of the Board. “We are excited to offer this opportunity as it’s an essential part of advancing our efforts in exploring, discussing, learning and developing knowledge for continuous progress in animal agriculture.”

The inaugural cohort represents a range of agricultural sectors to advance animal agriculture’s role in today’s food system. They are:

  • Rebecca Barnett, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
  • Tera Barnhardt, Animal Welfare Consulting & Research, LLC
  • Pierce Bennett, Livestock Marketing Association
  • Kaitlyn Briggs, Dairy Management, Inc.
  • Ryan Goodman, Beef Runner
  • Todd Hanten, Hanten’s Dairy, Inc.
  • Katherine Harrison, Harrison Farms
  • Michelle Hiscocks, Iowa State University Department of Animal Science
  • Madison Hopcia, Upstate Niagara Cooperative
  • Josh Luth, Innovation Center for US Dairy
  • Karaline Mayer, Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health
  • Eric Moore, Norbrook, Inc.
  • Alaina Sill, Seaboard Foods
  • Hayley Springer, Pennsylvania State University
  • Reginald Strickland, Strickland Farming Group

“With checkoff support to grow leaders, we are confident this program will serve as an applied learning experience to put their new leadership skills into action,” said Ed Lammers, Health & Nutrition Coordinator for the United Soybean Board, and farmer from Hartington, Neb.

To learn more about the program, its sponsors, and how to participate in the next cohort, visit