With all application materials due every year on March 15, we'll take this opportunity to address some common things we hear this time of year about the program and the application process.
#10: “I don’t have anything to do with agriculture, can I still apply?”
While our program is firmly rooted in equipping farmers and ranchers with the tools needed to advocate for their industries, we’ve always been a leadership development program for anyone connected to rural Arizona. Those in agriculture have something to learn from those not tightly connected and those generations removed from the farm will have the chance to experience it first-hand.
#9: “I am in agriculture, but if I leave the farm or ranch, there’s simply no one else to ______ fill in the blank.”
The alumni who have figured out how to juggle it, whether through help from parents, kids, neighbors, in-laws, friends or any other combination have gone on to help be a voice for their industries. We have champions for border security, protecting Arizona's watersheds, the dairy, cattle and commercial horticulture industries, cotton and vegetable growers and the overall rural lifestyle; just to name a few.
#8: “I’ve been through other leadership development programs, why do I need CENTRL?”
A few quotes from alumni in similar positions:
“I learned more in the one Seminar weekend of ‘Effective Communications’ than I did in an entire semester of MBA level communications class.”
“Project CENTRL brought to life through tours, hands-on experiences and workshops the subjects that I learned about in a classroom in Phoenix during another state-wide leadership program.”
“Even though I participated in a national, industry-wide program, CENTRL helped me understand the Arizona issues and where I can get involved to make an impact.”
#7: “I see you have to be at least 25 years-old, is there an upper age limit?”
It’s not about age, but about what you’re going to do with the knowledge gained, skills built and expanded network. Some participate when they’re making a career change later in life, others decide to run for office for the first time after a storied career in one industry and others are looking to build the confidence to volunteer outside of professional responsibilities.
#6: Speaking of running for office… “Do you have to run for a political office after graduating from CENTRL?”
We expect ALL graduates to return to their communities and make a difference in a way that 1) needed in their community and 2) meaningful for them. We teach participants how to get involved in the political processes and there are a number of ways that don’t involve putting your name on the ballot.
#5: “How much does it cost?”
CENTRL remains one of the ONLY tuition-free leadership development programs in the country. The University of Arizona, businesses, industry groups, foundations and hundreds of alumni contribute each year to invest $15,000 per participant. Because of this huge investment, 100% participation is required in all activities and employer approval for all time off before applying is required. Participants must get to the Seminar on their own (or airport) and CENTRL pays for everything else: lodging, food, speakers, hotels, flights and more.
#4: “I’ve already applied and wasn’t selected; so you must not want or need me, right?”
With a max class size of 16, we’d love to have 1 individual from each county every year – but it seldom works out that way. The Selection Committee is looking for a diverse group who can learn as much from each other as from the curriculum we present. Age, gender, industry, culture, location, background and area of expertise are all factors for selecting the right class. If you weren’t selected, it was most likely because of the mix and dynamic of one year’s class, not a reflection of your leadership potential.
#3: “Do I need to be sponsored by a graduate or invited to apply?”
The applications are open to anyone in rural Arizona who wants to make a difference in their community. There are two recommendations required from non-family members: 1 personal and 1 professional, but they do NOT need to be CENTRL alumni.
Tied #1: “I’m too busy.”
Every leader is busy and it’s tough for just about everyone to get time away from family or close friends; let alone professional and volunteer responsibilities. We’ve found that taking the opportunity to invest about 30 days in yourself over the course of the 12 months will bring unexpected growth and return dividends to each area of your life.
Tied #1: No, it’s not misspelled.
It’s an acronym for CENTer for Rural Leadership. Stay tuned for some exciting news in this department…