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San Joaquin Farm Bureau’s Kenny Watkins and Kory Cultrera were among the 13 Farm Bureau members from throughout California who completed a year of intensive training in the Leadership Farm Bureau program. The 2010 Leadership Farm Bureau class included Kenny Watkins, CFBF first vice president and former president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau, and Kory Cultrera, SJFB program director.
“I learned new techniques and was able to practice them with my classmates,” Watkins said. “Also, the class members gave me feedback on the things I need to improve.”
“I got more out of it than I expected, so much so that it was a life changing experience,” said Cultrera. “It is an amazing program that, among other things, helped us develop relationships throughout California and also groomed us to interact with politicians and media in a professional way.”

The Leadership Farm Bureau Class of 2010 graduated during an event held at the Steinbeck Museum in Salinas as part of the 92nd California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting.
“It’s important for Farm Bureau to continue to cultivate new leaders and for those new leaders to have a thorough understanding of Farm Bureau and the many issues that affect family farmers and ranchers,” said California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger. “The Leadership Farm Bureau program trains people to serve both our organization and the communities where they live and work.”
Watkins said perhaps the biggest surprise for him was that “this program helps everyone, from the most timid to the seasoned politician.”
As part of their training, the Leadership Farm Bureau class traveled to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to learn about key issues and meet with legislators, members of Congress and government agency leaders.
The group also visited North Carolina to discuss common issues with family farmers and agricultural leaders there.
Understanding the politics of ag was also enhanced with tours of the CFBF offices and meeting the staff to better understand the resources that “can help support our issues,” commented Watkins and the trip to Washington, D.C. illustrated how “Farm Bureau opens doors to put you in front of regulators and legislators so you can tell them how what they do affects you.”
He said learning about Farm Bureaus in other states was an eye-opener because, “Some are more about insurance than farm issues” and some California Farm Bureaus “have a larger county staff than the farm side of these state Farm Bureaus.”
“The trips to D.C. and North Carolina were eye opening for a number of reasons,” said Cultrera. “In California we have many of the same issues as other states, which you wouldn’t think would necessarily be the case. And we learned first-hand what Farm Bureau is doing at the state and national level. The program also educated us about how to deal with and work with politicians.”
The graduates gained 250 hours of specialized training focused on leadership skills and current affairs, plus insight into how Farm Bureau operates and its priorities in working to protect family farms and ranches.
Watkins said visiting other county Farm Bureaus taught the class “about the crops they grow, the weather, the geography, and what their Farm Bureau does to help its members.
“Perhaps the biggest point the Leadership Farm Bureau program makes is that people in ag need to just get involved,” Cultrera said. “The program gets people to be excited advocates for agriculture.”
Watkins said he most enjoyed “the experiences, whether it was getting to know new people or traveling and seeing how others farm and deal with their problems.”
He added, “This class is more than leadership training; we can all use practice, new ideas and techniques. Learning Farm Bureau structure, policies and resources are reason enough to take this class.”
Cultrera summed it up with: “As a leader you can always keep learning.”
The 2010 class marks the 11th group of leaders to complete the Leadership Farm Bureau program since it began in 2000. For more information, see www.cfbf.com/lfb/.
Besides Cultrera and Watkins, others graduating this year were Casey Anderson, San Diego County; Darrell Cordova, Stanislaus County; Phillip Cox, Tulare County; Theo de Haan, Kings County; Kari Dodd, Tehama County; Stephanie Leimgruber, Imperial County; Derrick Lum, Solano County; Monica Rosenthal, Lake County; Tom Stewart, Modoc County; Liza Teixeira, Tulare County; and Michael Vasey, Tehama County.