Future Industry Leaders Begin Yearlong Almond Experience
MODESTO, Calif. — The Almond Board of California (ABC) today announced its 2019 Almond Leadership Program class. These 19 promising leaders represent diverse backgrounds across multiple industries, from almond growers, processors and food safety specialists to marketing experts, sales representatives and even a dentist who has a passion for farming.
Almond Leadership Program participants will spend the next year growing in their roles as the future generation of California almond industry leaders. They will learn from volunteer mentors who will help equip program participants with the knowledge and experience necessary to improve their leadership skills, the industry and their communities.
The class will complete specialized training in a wide variety of topic areas, many of which are tied to ABC activities in marketing, trade stewardship, scientific research, food safety and more.
As a kickoff to the program, Leadership class members participated in a two-day orientation, which included a State of the Industry address from ABC President and CEO Richard Waycott and Chair of the Board of Directors Holly King. Waycott and King highlighted the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals and the almond community’s commitment to continuous improvement, which are cornerstones of this year’s Almond Leadership Program.
As they progress through the program, Leadership members will gain a stronger understanding of how the social, economic and scientific issues facing our world today — combined with the current political climate — affect the almond industry. They’ll also learn how all sectors in the almond supply chain work together to provide a safe, sustainable1 product. Through monthly seminars that span topics reaching all aspects of the industry, Leadership members will sharpen their communication skills while building relationships that will span their careers.
Each participant will also select an area of interest to explore as part of a yearlong self-directed project. These projects will all focus on ways to help advance industry knowledge, and some past projects even led to important breakthroughs for the industry. At the end of the year, one participant will be selected to present their project at The Almond Conference 2019, held this year at Cal Expo in Sacramento.
“This program helps mold great people into even greater leaders — the leaders we will one day look toward to shape the future of the almond industry,” said Jenny Nicolau, senior manager, Industry Relations and Communications, ABC. “Each graduate from the Almond Leadership Program has gone on to be a leader of change in the industry or their community in some capacity, and this group will be no different. They are bright and talented, and obviously problem-solvers, and we are honored to be partners on this yearlong journey.”
Over the past ten years, the Almond Leadership Program has graduated more than 150 participants and supported many key initiatives benefiting the industry. This year’s class will continue the tradition of raising funds for California Future Farmers of America (FFA) and has pledged to raise more than $20,000 in scholarships for high school students interested in pursuing agriculture in college.
Members of this year’s class include: Maria Gabriela Chavarria, Harris Woolf California Almonds; Louis Brichetto, L.F. Brichetto Farming; Dominique Camou, Famoso Nut Company; Rocky Dhaliwal, Valley Pride Farming; Brian Erickson, Erickson Orchards; Haley Fields, Ali Cox & Company Marketing; Purnima Gupta, K&G Ranches; Joseph Jackson, Hillside Orchards; Falastine “Fill” Munoz, Grizzly Nut, LLC; April Nuckles, HarvestPort; Kristina Qualls, South Valley Almond Company, LLC; Brett Richesin, Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.; Dylan Rogers, AgroLiquid; Lucas Schmidt, Grow West; Victor Thao, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Jerrett Thomason, Wells Fargo Food and Agribusiness; Chris VanderStoel, VanderStoel Farm; Connor Wagner, Wagner Land Company; and Chandler Wilson, NutriAg Group Ltd.
 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.