Cooperative Extension program leader successfully completes national leadership fellowship program

Published By: Russell Boone November 22, 2021

Woodie Hughes Jr., Fort Valley State University assistant Extension administrator state 4-H program leader, recently completed a national leadership fellowship program sponsored by the Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU).

Woodie Hughes Jr., Fort Valley State University, assistant Extension administrator state 4-H program leader, recently completed the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI) Leadership Program. The two-year national leadership fellowship program focuses on 21st century global food systems.

Hughes was accepted for the fall 2019 Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI), an executive leadership development program for academia, industry and government. The FSLI enhances personal and professional development by emphasizing leadership competencies, skills for organizational change and a broad, interdisciplinary perspective of food systems. The FSLI experience prepares scholars for upper-level leadership roles in food system programs and to assume broader leadership responsibilities within their organizations.

During the FSLI program, scholars work with expert instructors, leadership development coaches and an upper-level mentor to help increase their leadership abilities. They meet with leaders of universities, political leaders, industry leaders and others who have advanced to the highest levels of leadership. Leadership theory is combined with practical experience, often in the context of food systems and higher education.  

The FSLI is a two-year program. Year one includes intensive executive education-style residential learning sessions at three university locations. Scholars perform assessments to increase their self-awareness of their leadership style, and the results are used to develop and implement a personal development plan, prepared with the assistance of a professional coach. Interactive distance learning is used between residential sessions. During year two, participants work, applying what they have learned to develop and carry out an individual leadership project.
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FSLI is dedicated to advancing and strengthening food systems by preparing a set of new leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to invent and reinvent the food systems of the future. It is a program of APLU, with the initial funding provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. North Carolina State University is the host site with The Ohio State University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo being residential sites responsible for implementation of the program. 

“I heard about the FSLI program while attending a National 4-H Extension Committee on Organization Policy (ECOP-4-H) Leadership Committee meeting from Dr. Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor of Extension and engagement at the University of Missouri,” Hughes said. Furthermore, he said Dr. L. Washington Lyons, retired former administrator of the 1890 Association of Extension Administrators (AEA), suggested he apply for the FSLI program while he was completing the LEAD 21 Leadership Program in 2015.

“After I was blessed to become a land-grant Lead 21 leadership graduate in 2015, I became interested in gaining additional higher education leadership professional development training and professional higher education leadership working experiences. This includes studying best higher education leadership practices and successful examples throughout the entire land-grant universities system in North America or APLU,” Hughes said.

Dr. Mark Latimore Jr., FVSU associate dean for Extension, and Stewart successfully nominated Hughes for the FSLI program in 2019. “I felt humbled, blessed and honored in becoming an FVSU employee who graduated from the APLU-FSLI and Lead 21 leadership programs as an FSLI Fellow for the first time in FVSU’s history,” the FVSU program leader said.

Additionally, Hughes said the opportunity to participate in the program would not be possible without God, the support of his family, Dr. Latimore and Dr. Ralph Noble, dean of the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology. “I would like to thank them for allowing me to participate in these leadership opportunities! I feel honored to have been selected to positively represent FVSU,” Hughes said