The National Cotton Council has announced the application period for the 2004-05 Cotton Leadership Class is now openhas opened today. NCC will accept applications from qualified U.S. industry members through July 1‥

Those interested in applying can visit the Cotton Leadership Program's web site at http://leadership.cotton.org to review the program curriculum, eligibility requirements and download the application. The site also includes a contact form which allows users to submit questions, request information and schedule a personal visit with local program alumni.

The NCC's Cotton Leadership Program seeks to identify potential industry leaders and provide them developmental training through this class. During five sessions of activity across the Cotton Belt, participants visit with industry leaders and observe production, processing and research. They meet with lawmakers and government agency representatives during a visit to Washington, D.C., and attend the NCC's annual meeting and its mid-year board of directors meeting.

The program, now in its 21st year, is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from DuPont Crop Protection and is managed by NCC's Member Services department‥ The 10-member leadership class is comprised of four producers and one participant from each of the other six industry segments.

The 2004-05 class is to be announced in August by the NCC's Cotton Leadership Development Committee. Committee Committee Chairman Jimmy Sanford, an Alabama producer, says the U.S. cotton industry has benefited from dedicated leaders for decades, but the need to groom future leaders is imperative.

“Sound leadership will be crucial for helping move U.S. cotton forward in a rapidly evolving global marketplace,” Sanford said. “The leadership program is an ideal training ground for those men and women who would like to embrace the challenge of guiding this outstanding industry.”

Many of the 200-plus leadership program alumni have utilized the skills and knowledge gained from their participation to represent the industry on state, regional, national and international levels. That includes 1984-85 leadership class graduate Bobby Greene, an Alabama ginner, who served as the NCC's chairman in 2003 — the first leadership class graduate elected to that position. In addition, Bobby Carson, a Mississippi producer and 1983-84 class program graduate, served as president of the NCC's export promotions arm, Cotton Council International, last year. He also has previously served as president of The Cotton Foundation.