One of our favorite groups is LEAD NY. Every other year, a new class starts a two year cycle at Oswegatchie. In their Fall newsletter, the cover piece just happens to be about Oswegatchie! Thank You Anna and the LEAD NY for permission to share this article.
Learn more about LEAD NY by using this link or by reading their newsletter at the bottom of this post.
By: Anna Supp, Farm Business Advisor, Farm Credit East
It was already dark as we set off on foot down the road, the group percolating with a nervous energy. Light-hearted chatter and laughter peppered the cold night air. Perhaps it was the novelty of the situation, or the stress of the long day finally bubbling over, but we were giddy, almost childish in our jokes and banter. As we turned off the road, and into the woods, the disorienting darkness crept in quickly. It pressed down around us, and we turned to each other for guidance. Is that you? Give me your hand. Hold my jacket. Who’s at the end? Watch out for the roots, step up ahead! Looking like a troupe of circus elephants- and not particularly quieter- we guided each other through the dark. Log to your left. Is everyone ok? Don’t worry, I’m right here in front of you.
Don’t worry. I’m right here.
If we had a weakness as a group, it was staying quiet, and the laughter and chatter continued on deep into the night. Trekking along in near blindness, swapping stories and laughing aloud, we moved as one unit, as one class. Occasionally we stumbled, but somewhere in the middle of the line, in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the night- “I” became “we”, and we became LEAD class 16.
LEAD class 16 is a group unlike any other. It is made up of individuals, and as individuals we are diverse, to be sure. All of these people have come from different backgrounds, different schools, different companies and careers. They grow grapes, beans, hops, cranberries and cows. They are educators, advisors, producers, salesmen and lenders. They work in the public sector, on family farms, for themselves and for private corporations. They have faced adversity, they have received diplomas, degrees, awards, and accolades.
They represent a range of religions, hobbies, hometowns and opinions. They have been to other countries, come from other countries, and speak other languages. They have built businesses, built families, and they have built communities. They are parents, spouses, siblings, fiancées and friends. They are introverts, extroverts, dreamers, planners and doers. Each individual, in their own right, has accomplished great things.
But together, WE are LEAD class 16. We are supportive, inclusive and accepting. Together we are something greater than we were alone. We have heard the stories of the classes before us, that’s true. We’ve heard of the amazing opportunities and experiences, of the depth of self-awareness and personal growth other classes have experienced. Their stories, accomplishments, and enthusiasm are what drove many of us to be here. We are grateful for the opportunities and the inspiration they have provided us. Our journey, however, will be unique and wholly our own. We are poised to create our own identity over the next two years and, thank you Ted, for the rest of our lives.
We are LEAD class 16. We are a team, a class, an army and a congregation. We are the future of this industry we all serve. As leaders we are young, just beginning to recognize what that may mean. We have accepted this challenge, this journey before us, and we welcome it. It is not something we take on lightly. As individuals, we are anxious about the years ahead. We worry about the time away from families and careers; we worry about testing personal limits and comfort zones, and exposing weaknesses. As a class, however, we are open, we are committed, and we are ready. There will be plenty of roots and logs to trip over as we go. We have each other, and we know that when we start to stumble, there will be someone behind us, and someone in front of us. Is that you? Take my hand.
In the spring of 2017, we’ll complete this leg of our journey, hand in hand. We’ll take a final head count, be sure everyone arrived safely, and the lines will blur again. We will become as we were individuals, and go back out to our communities, our companies, our families and our businesses as leaders- and at the same time, we will become more. We will become LEAD alumni, and we will link hands with a fraternity of leadership that spans generations, industries, and countries. Together we will all be something far greater than we were alone. We are LEAD class 16, and we’re on our way.
- Anna Supp