The 2005-06 cotton leadership class began its first of five weeklong development session in the Mid-South, including an orientation to the National Cotton Council and communications training in Memphis, Tenn.

The 23rd class, recently selected by the NCC's Cotton Leadership Development Committee, includes: Producers - Heath Watson, Mayesville, S.C.; Jeff Hux, Sikeston, Mo.; Toby Robertson, Robstown, Texas; Kevin Nelson, Tulia, Texas; and Tim Cox, Blythe, Calif.; Ginner - Steve Bullard - BCT Gin Co., Morven, Ga.; Warehouser - Will Coley, Savannah Warehouse Services, LLC, Savannah, Ga.; Merchant - Forester Adams, Joseph Walker & Co., Columbia, S.C.; Marketing Cooperative - Jason Ward - Staplcotn Cooperative Assoc., Greenwood, Miss.; and Manufacturer - Mitch Hensley, Ramtex, Inc., Ramseur, N.C.

During the class' inaugural session, they traveled to the Mississippi Delta for visits to Staplcotn Cooperative in Greenwood; and to the Delta Council, USDA's Ginning Lab and the Delta Branch Experiment Station in Stoneville. While in Arkansas, the group toured the Tillar and Co. cotton operation in Tillar; the USDA Classing Office and the Dumas Gin and the Dumas Cotton Warehouse in Dumas; the Planters Cotton Oil Mill in Pine Bluff; and McClendon Farms in Marianna.

Over coming year

Over the next year, the class will visit with industry leaders, tour production and processing operations, and observe research activities. They will attend the NCC's annual meeting, visit with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and participate in orientation sessions with Cotton Incorporated, the New York Board of Trade and DuPont Crop Protection, which supports the program with a grant to The Cotton Foundation.

For more information on the leadership program, go to http://leadership.cotton.org.

Leadership Development Committee Chairman Jimmy Sanford, an Alabama producer, said this program is contributing to U.S. cotton's future by identifying and encouraging industry members who have committed their time and energy to the challenges of service and leadership.

More than 200 industry members have participated in the Leadership Program, beginning with the 1983-84 class. Unlike previous classes, the 2005-2006 class does not have a cottonseed representative.