NIAA Opens Nomination Period for Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders

Participant applications for 2nd cohort of leadership program due November 1

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) is now accepting nominations for the second cohort of the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders program. Nominations are due November 1.

In 2021, NIAA launched a new program providing emerging leaders a new opportunity 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 was developed and sponsored by the United Soybean Board (USB) and NIAA. The program empowers professionals in the early or middle part of their careers to build on previous leadership development experiences and collaborate with peers across the industry. Participants in the program will represent a range of agricultural sectors and will collaborate to advance animal agriculture’s role in today’s food system.

The 16-month leadership program blends in-person and virtual working sessions to focus on four areas of development: critical thinking, leadership development, connecting and relating skills, and operational excellence. Members of the program work together on applied-learning, small-group capstone projects, which will incorporate topics identified by supporting NIAA sponsors. Project outcomes will be shared at the NIAA Annual Conference held each April.

“Part of NIAA’s mission is to foster collaboration and cooperation throughout the industry. This program was intentionally developed to build upon existing leadership experiences, so professionals advance their leadership and, specifically, collaboration skills,” said Eric Moore, NIAA Board Chairman. “It was important to me to participate in the inaugural cohort and it has been an enriching experience for me and my fellow leaders.”

USB serves as the founding sponsor of the Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders Program, with additional financial support provided by NIAA and its members and partners. Sponsorship funding allows participants pay a fee of $2,500, while receiving an estimated $10,000 in training and resources. The enrollment fee also includes one year of NIAA membership.

NIAA is accepting nominations for the program’s second 20-member cohort now through November 1. The selection process begins with a nomination from a sponsoring organization. More information about how to nominate an individual for the program or become an applicant is available at

NIAA’s Animal Agriculture Leaders Take a Bite of Sacramento

The inaugural class participating in the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s (NIAA) Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders finished their third in-person leadership training session in Sacramento, California.

In January, NIAA announced the inaugural cohort of the newly-developed Advanced Training for Animal Agriculture Leaders. This leadership training course is sponsored by the United Soybean Board and was created by NIAA to empower animal agriculture professionals to strengthen previous leadership development experiences and collaborate with peers across the industry.

During the working session in Sacramento, leaders learned from:

  • Ben West, PhD, Director of Strategic Partnerships from the University of Tennessee as he provided practical training in Communicating the Science of Animal Agriculture through the Lens of Human Psychology
  • Secretary Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture, to discuss historic and emerging trends in agriculture policy and regulation
  • Better Meat Co. to explore the intersection between alternative proteins and animal agriculture
  • Frank Mitloehner, PhD and Joe ProudmanCLEAR Center, UC Davis provided a detailed overview of the Clarity and Leadership for Environmental Awareness and Research (CLEAR) Center’s work in the areas of research and communication to address sustainability
  • Other leaders in California agriculture were invited to network with the cohort, including Daren Williams – senior director, global communications, Almond Board of California; Michael Boccadora – executive director, Dairy CARES; Louie Brown – attorney, Law, Kahn, Soares & Conway, LLP; and Lloyd Kunimoto – CEO, Amfora.

The closing session focused on small group work that will be used for the capstone project at the close of the cohort’s 16-month program.

“The pairing of communications training with an exploration of topics such as sustainability, alternative proteins, and regulatory oversight provided a unique chance to build professional skills while also expanding our knowledge base and network within animal agriculture. I appreciate the opportunities that this program provides to learn from industry leaders who share with us their enthusiasm for their area of work and the future of animal agriculture,” said Dr. Hayley Springer, Extension Veterinarian, Penn State University and inaugural cohort member.

The inaugural cohort represents a range of agricultural sectors to advance animal agriculture’s role in today’s food system. Participants 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, SCS Global Services; Karaline Mayer, Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health; Eric Moore, Norbrook, Inc.; Hayley Springer, Pennsylvania State University; and Reginald Strickland, Strickland Farming Group.

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