Two Hay Springs natives are among the LEAD 36 class participants who will travel to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay to learn about international agricultural practices and policies.

Joe Dorhorst, who still lives in Sheridan County, and Shane Terrell, who now lives in Gothenburg, are in their second year of their Leadership Education Action Development program, sponsored by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council. The program aims to develop agricultural leaders through a series of seminars and two travel seminars. Fellows participate in 12 three-day seminars at various locations across the state, focusing on a wide range of disciplines and educational content. The first year includes a 10-day national travel trip to cap the state and national curriculum, while the second year includes a 14-16-day international trip to augment the program’s look at global issues.

Both Dorhorst and Terrell said the LEAD has broadened their understanding of national and world topics.

“I had high expectations for the program going in,” said Terrell. His father, Vern, is a graduate of LEAD 8, and his father-in-law and uncles also went through the training.

“It’s exceeded my expectations,” he said. “The most valuable thing is learning how to dialogue with people with other opinions.”

The program forces participants out of their own little corner of the world, Dorhorst added. They’ve been able to see everything from traditional practices to those incorporating agri-tourism into the industry to make them sustainable. Dorhorst learned about LEAD from Terrell’s uncle, and said he’s glad he listened. The fifth generation rancher said it’s taught him better communication skills and helped him develop a better understanding of ag policy.

The group’s national seminar took them to Kansas City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

“All of that was very interesting,” said Dorhorst, who grows corn, beans and alfalfa and has a cow-calf operation in the Mirage Flats area, where his family homesteaded in 1891.

The LEAD class met for the first session of its second year on the campus of Chadron State College at the end of September.

“People from other parts of the state don’t get out to this part of the state very often,” Hejny said. Easy access to groceries and healthcare are sometimes taken for granted in other areas of the state, and it’s important to make sure they understand the challenges their counterparts in the Panhandle face.

“It just puts a new perspective on things,” Hejny said.

Dorhorst and Terrell both strongly recommend the program to other agricultural producers.

“There’s definitely a commitment, but it’s worth it,” said Terrell, who works as a veterinarian, consulting with feedlots in Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado.