Producer member profile – Meet members of Class 3 of FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program

This month, The Harvester salutes a group of young FFVA producer and trade associate members about to set off on an adventure.

In June, FFVA selected members of its third Emerging Leader Development Program class. They will be introduced at FFVA 2013, FFVA’s 70th annual convention, but here is a preview of some of these bright up-and-coming leaders.

The 2013-2014 class members are: Cathy Atchley of On Point Ag, Ryan Atwood of Keyplex, Elton Baldy of Bayer CropScience, Daniel Cavazos of Veg Pro International, Sam Glucksman of Glades Crop Care, Jeff Goodale of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Jamie Lang of Farm Credit of Central Florida, Clayton Norman of DuPont Crop Protection, Geoff Roe of Wm. G. Roe & Sons, Matt Stacey of Crop Production Services, and Jordan Theis of Prudential Ag Investments.

The Emerging Leader Development Program develops leaders who are prepared with a depth of knowledge of issues facing agriculture. Graduates are equipped with the education and tools to improve the sustainability and economic viability of specialty crop agriculture. Program involvement also strengthens grassroots engagement in FFVA and other industry organizations.

The yearlong program includes meetings with legislators in Tallahassee, seminars provided by FFVA staff members and other experts on current issues, tours of venues to study environmental issues and water management, and visits to specialty crop production areas in Florida and California.

In their own words, here is a hefty sampling of Class 3.

Jamie Lang  

Jamie Lang

Born and raised in Wauchula, FL with a family background and upbringing in a town dependent upon agriculture, I naturally chose to utilize my degree in accounting from Webber International University to develop skills to aid the industry. I began my career in banking 10 years ago and have provided financing to farmers, agribusinesses and rural residents through Farm Credit since 2005. My husband, Michael, and I reside in Auburndale and enjoy spending our time outdoors.

I am extremely thankful to participate in the 3rd Emerging Leader Program and look forward to becoming an advocate for Florida’s specialty crops by enhancing the industry with education and tools on current issues facing agriculture by serving as a liaison between government and farmers. I believe that sharing the many credit risks facing the industry and the additional concerns learned from meeting and visiting additional farmers will make an impact on the various councils making necessary decisions to support our Florida farmers.

Throughout the program I wish to intervene and expand my knowledge to bring about a change in order to improve grassroots that will in turn aid in helping and encouraging Florida farmers to develop their own initiatives and make informative decisions about challenges facing the industry. I desire to gain hands-on experience and valuable knowledge from decades of experience in all Florida specialty crop segments. Through educational conferences on farm events and communication initiatives I also would like to promote consumer confidence that Florida agriculture will remain secure and that the crops will remain plentiful and safe for centuries to come.

Matt Stacey

Matt Stacey

I work for Crop Production Services in Immokalee. I graduated from Oklahoma State University with a master’s degree in Agricultural Science in 2004 and moved to Florida in June 2005. I am happily married to Julie Stacey, and we were recently blessed with a baby girl, Kylee Marie Stacey. I have worked in the chemical retail business for eight years and in that time have experienced many challenges that have faced our industry.

I am optimistic about my involvement in the EDLP. I admire the program’s objectives, particularly the objective to further develop leaders with the education and tools that will be needed to meet the steep challenges that face our industry. I am also excited to learn about the experiences and challenges other members of the program face in their roles in our industry. I hope to continue to develop my technical, analytical and natural communication skills in a professional environment with a premier leadership program.

Clayton Norman

Clayton Thomas Norman

I’m originally from a very small town south of Lake Okeechobee called Lake Harbor. If you blink, you will miss it driving from South Bay to Clewiston. I went to a small private school in Belle Glade. The next step was graduating with a master’s degree in agri-business from the University of Florida. (GO GATORS!) I started my career in agriculture right out of college in Northwest Wisconsin, where I had a sales territory for a major chemical manufacturer, then realized quickly that my warm-natured roots would bring me back to Florida where I worked for another major chemical company covering the state of Florida as a territory. I am proudly working for DuPont Crop Protection covering the east coast of Florida as a retail account manager and am happy as ever.

In my experience with the ELDP class I hope to gain more knowledge about how policies are made in and around our industry. Being from Florida and living around Florida agriculture I sometimes think that I know a lot, but then I’m brought back to reality each time I step on a different farm and talk to a different grower. Gaining knowledge around different practices in the state and in other areas is something I’m looking forward to as well. Who knows? I might be able to use these lessons and my experiences to help someone else in our industry. Networking with my peers and professionals in the industry also is something that I will value. Finally, I feel like this experience that I’m about to embark on will help me be a better representative, steward, and leader in Florida agriculture moving forward.

Sam Glucksman, DPM

Sam Glucksman with fiance Jaqui

I was born and raised in West Palm Beach and have lived in Florida my entire life.  Growing up I used to help my mother with her landscaping company, and attribute most of my interest in plants to her. My fiancé, Jaqui, and I are getting married at the end of December this year. We have a 5-year-old daughter named Hailey, who just began kindergarten.

I received my bachelor of science degree in botany at the University of Florida in 2007. In August 2011, I graduated from the Doctor of Plant Medicine program at UF and immediately started working for Glades Crop Care that October. Glades Crop Care is a nationally and internationally renowned contract research and crop consulting company, and is one of the largest in the southeastern United States. I continue to work as a senior crop management specialist for the East Coast Division of GCC. Belle Glade and the Everglades Agricultural Area is where I spend most of my time, and travel weekly to clients in Homestead.

The FFVA Emerging Leader Development Program will allow me to reach several goals. The first is to become more aware of the specific issues that are affecting the specialty crop industry in Florida. The second is learning how to effectively communicate to policymakers on these issues. Lastly, I look forward to becoming involved in these issues and fighting for what is best for the specialty crop industry in Florida. I also am looking forward to meeting all the class members, and to an exciting year in the FFVA ELDP.

Daniel Cavazos

Daniel Cavazos

I am the farm manager for Veg Pro international in Belle Glade. My beautiful wife, Maria, and I have two children, Aislynn (3) and Daniel Jr. (9 months). My wife and I are enrolled at Florida Atlantic University pursuing bachelor’s degrees in business administration. Balancing being a father, husband, student, and a full-time farm manager is both challenging and rewarding.

Labor is an ever-growing issue not only here in Florida but as well as in other states around our country. As a member of the third ELDP class, I hope to gain a better understanding of what our political leaders are doing to provide Florida with a sustainable source of agriculture. The Senate’s approbation of immigration reform is a very important issue for the state of Florida, especially the agricultural sector. In our trip to Tallahassee, advocating the need for a viable labor force will be a top priority for me. I hope my classmates voice their opinions as well.

Cathy Atchley

Cathy Atchley

“I’m a Georgia native who now calls LaBelle home. Growing up in agriculture and involved in the FFA, I feel very blessed to now live and work in such a diverse agriculture state. I started my career in Florida about six years ago after graduating from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. I learned the ropes of Florida citrus as a Temik monitor, scout, and intern for Bayer CropScience; then I worked as a distributor sales representative for Agrium Advanced Technologies (AAT). After a stint as agronomy coordinator for AAT, I returned to the agricultural sales market representing AgXplore, a manufacturer of nutrients and specialty products. I’ve recently founded a business, On Point Ag, whose purpose is to provide reliable services and data for growers to utilize while making their production management decisions.

I’m currently the president of the Royal Palm FNGLA Chapter, enjoy participating in Ag in the Classroom and strive to work as an advocate for agriculture. In my free time, I enjoy the outdoors and along with my husband, Rob, enjoy traveling and spending time with a spoiled Labrador and pair of German shorthaired pointers.

I’m eager to begin the ELDP year and am grateful to FFVA, our sponsors and supporters for taking steps to expose “emerging leaders” to a wealth of knowledge and experience. I’m looking forward to gaining a broader perspective of our specialty agriculture industry during this ELDP year and plan to use this knowledge to better serve the industry.

Jordan Cash Theis

Jordan Cash Theis

I work in the ag investments division of Prudential Agricultural Investments. As an investment operations specialist, my job responsibilities include analyzing and underwriting investments in the agricultural industry of the southeastern United States. I manage a variety of agricultural properties in the Southeast, including overseeing the development of a raw piece of land into agricultural productive land, and subsequently overseeing farm managers in the production of crops ranging from citrus, pecans, cotton, peanuts, melons, potatoes and other vegetables.

I believe that the agricultural industry is on the verge of a renaissance in the United States. As this country’s technological and manufacturing advantages slowly erode away to foreign competitors, the agricultural sector is a bright spot that retains the American spirit of hard work and ingenuity. Simply put, no one else can farm like we can. To be part of a rising industry is exciting. I’d like to participate in the FFVA ELDP to increase my knowledge and understanding about different facets of the agricultural industry in order to capitalize on the growth that this industry is poised to make in the coming years. My potential is limitless as a young professional in this growing industry. I enjoy collaborating with my peers on ideas and learning different ways of approaching a problem. Together, there is nothing that the future leaders of agricultural cannot solve.

Ryan Atwood

Ryan Atwood

I grew up in Central Florida and still live there. I am an alumnus of the University of Florida and a certified crop advisor working for Keyplex. By participating in the ELDP program, I hope to gain a greater understanding about all aspects of the agricultural community. I have an interest in how policies affect our industry and our country, and I believe we all have a duty to leave the next generation with a better world in which to live. By expanding my agricultural network, I will have greater opportunity to participate in creative problem-solving on industry issues. I feel God has blessed me with an ability to find solutions to problems that allow mutually satisfying outcomes for all parties. My hope is that by participating in ELDP I will help further the Florida agricultural industry in my future endeavors.

Geoff Roe

Geoff Roe with wife Nicole and son Harper

I was born in Winter Haven and raised by two third-generation farming parents. I grew up preparing for a career in the agriculture industry. Knowing Central Florida would be my forever home, I made the decision to attend Georgia Tech for my undergraduate degree, where I met my wife, Nicole. After graduating, we decided to move to Winter Haven, get married and start our family. In April we welcomed our son, Harper Glen, to our lives. Our time is spent slowly renovating our old home and loving our newest family member.

The EDLP program is an opportunity that will expand my agriculture knowledge within industries that I am not as familiar with as well as meet individuals that share the same passion as I do.

“We’re so pleased with our third class. It’s an outstanding group, and we’re looking forward to the activities of the coming year,” said Sonia Tighe, who leads the program as executive director of the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation. “Class 3 will get a special bonus, as the Western Growers Association young leadership class will be coming to South Florida in January to tour the production area with us. It will be an incredible networking opportunity for our group.”

More information about FFVA’s Emerging Leader Development Program can be found on

Get to know these leaders and their peers at FFVA 2013, Sept. 23-25 at The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island. Learn more and register here.


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