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Next Generation of Leaders Gets Yearlong Almond Immersion

Almond Board
Almond Leadership Program celebrates its 10th anniversary with Class of 2018

Almond Board of California (ABC) has unveiled its 2018 Almond Leadership Program class. This group of 18 future leaders represents nearly every aspect of the industry, from growers, pest control advisors and food safety specialists to a staffing consultant, a marketing brand and sales expert and a grant writer.

With oversight from volunteer mentors, participants will spend the next year in a structured program that will prepare them to become leaders not just within the California Almond industry, but in their communities, as well. 

The class will complete specialized training in a wide variety of topic areas, such as food safety, biomass utilization, honey extraction and nutrition research. Over the course of the year, they will have hands-on experiences in nurseries, almond orchards, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research facility and other venues.

Along the way, participants will build relationships and develop communications skills; gain a clear understanding of current social, political, scientific and economic issues facing the almond industry; and learn how all sectors in the almond supply chain work together to provide a safe, sustainable[1] product.

At the end of the year, each participant will present their findings from a yearlong self-directed project designed to advance industry knowledge in an area of interest to them. In the past, some of these projects have led to important breakthroughs for the industry.

“Acceptance into this program is an honor and participants are selected based on their passion and commitment to moving the industry ahead,” said Jenny Nicolau, manager, Industry Relations. “Twenty, thirty, forty years from now, we will look around the industry and see our greatest industry leaders as graduates from the Almond Leadership Program, and they will look at one another and see decades of service and friendship.”

Over the past nine years, the program has graduated more than 100 participants.

This year’s class has pledged to raise $20,000 for California Future Farmers of America (FFA) scholarships.

Members of this year’s class include: Alec Pacini, JSS Almonds; Andrew Baker, Pacific Coast Sales; Anthony Sagariballa, The Almond Company; Cristina Davis, PrideStaff Financial; Clayton Whitehead, Fruit Growers Supply; Brad Larsen, Olam Farming Inc.; Erin Clem, ADM – Golden Peanut and Tree Nuts; Blaine Salisbury, South Valley Farms; Jack McCarthy, Gold Leaf Farming; Jon Collison, Yara North America; Josh Krueger, Semios; Kelli Evans, Evans Farming; Mackenzie Souza, JKB Energy; Mark Sherfy, D & J Farm Management, LLC; Micah Keith, Blue Diamond Growers; Nas Chaudhary, Chaudhary Almond Ranch; Sullivan Grosz, Pearson Realty; Timothy DeGroot, Gar Tootelian Inc.


[1]Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product.


For More Information:

Jenny Nicolau

(209) 343-3248

About the Almond Board of California

California almonds make life better by what we grow and how we grow. The Almond Board of California promotes natural, wholesome and quality almonds through leadership in strategic market development, innovative research, and accelerated adoption of industry best practices on behalf of the more than 6,800 almond farmers and processors in California, most of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit or check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the California Almonds blog.