The Pork Checkoff announced 21 U.S. pork producers have been selected for the Pork Leadership Academy, a program to identify and train industry leaders.

Participants are selected by their individual states and represent different production styles. The Checkoff provides initial training, as well as long-term support, for producers in preparing presentations and interviews. The Leadership Academy will focus on training producers as spokespeople who can relate the accomplishments of the pork industry to the public and who can communicate with producers one-on-one about issues facing the pork industry.

“It is important to the pork industry that consumers recognize our product as being a high quality source of protein in their diet,” says Duane Bakke, chair of the Pork Checkoff Producer and State Relations Committee and a pork producer form Lanesboros, Minn. “The National Pork Board has educational programs for producers in place that will help to ensure that we will keep the product safe and nutritious. These leaders are vital to communicating that message to consumers.”

This year’s Pork Leadership Academy participants include:

James Backman, Denair, Calif.

Kim Balfe, Waseca, Minn.

Nanette Bierma, Woodburn, Ore.

Tim Chase, Laverne, Okla.

Lisa Colby, Newburyport, Mass.

Jay Foushee, Roxboro, N.C.

John Gibson, Union Grove, Ala.

Jeff Hallman, Orangeburg, S.C.

David Hardin, Avon, Ind.

Chad Keppy, Davenport, Iowa

Bill Kessler, Mexico, Mo.

Shannon Klumb, Ethan, S.D.

Jason Manbeck, Bethel, Pa.

Jan Miller, Beldon, Neb.

Linda Noyes, Milford, Utah

Julie Phillips, Lebannon, Tenn.

Scott Smith, West Point, Miss.

Todd Stickley, Urbana, Ohio

Darrell Stitzel, Shannon, Ill.

Theresa Tassell, Pullman, Wash.

Jonthan Wyttenback, Sauk City, Wis.

These producers will attend five Pork Leadership Academy meetings during their year in the program. Each meeting will focus on a different issue that includes a Checkoff program update. At the first meeting during World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa, participants reviewed programs that included promotion and research initiatives.

National Pork Board