Rice producers and others in industry-related occupations are encouraged to apply for the next Rice Leadership Development Program class. The deadline for applications is Oct. 4, 2003.

The Rice Leadership Development Program gives young men and women a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. rice industry, with an emphasis on personal development and communication skills. During a two-year period, class members attend four one-week sessions that are designed to strengthen leadership skills and encompass studies of all aspects of the rice industry.

The Rice Leadership Development class is comprised of five rice producers and two industry-related professionals. A committee of rice industry and agribusiness leaders evaluates candidate applications and letters of recommendation and conducts personal interviews to select the class. Candidates must be between the ages of 25 and 45 at the time of application and must derive their primary livelihood as rice producers or be employed in a rice industry-related occupation. Individuals selected for the program will be announced in December at the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Biloxi, Miss.

The Rice Leadership Development Program is sponsored by John Deere Co. and Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. through a grant to The Rice Foundation and is managed by the USA Rice Federation.

Additional information on the program and application forms may be downloaded from the USA Rice Web site at www.usarice.com by clicking on Rice Leadership Development Program. You may also call (870) 673-7541 to request an application.