|MU Leadership Program is Tribute to Litton
By Catherine Stortz Ripley, C-T, 04/11/2017
A group of University of Missouri agriculture students who were chosen for the Litton Leadership Scholars Program visited the agri-science learning center campus in Chillicothe which is named in honor of the late Congressman, Jerry Litton. The Litton Leadership Scholars Program was established after the Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation in 2010 funded an endowment at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. One of the components of the endowment was the establishment of a new class to be offered about leadership. The first class was formed in 2012, and the foundation hosted the fifth class (2016-17) during its annual board meeting Thursday evening in Chillicothe. This was the first time most of the scholars program participants - all second year students at Mizzou - had been to the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center campus. Those participating are from throughout Missouri, except one student from Illinois.
Chillicothe High School agriculture teachers led the students on a campus tour, explained that the campus was established in the early 1990s, and told how it has developed through the years. The group then met with foundation members for a reception and explained how being part of the scholars program has impacted their lives.
Jerry Litton, a Chillicothe graduate, died in an airplane accident in 1976, the evening he won the Democratic primary bid for U.S. Senate. He had attended the University of Missouri. The characteristics demonstrated by Jerry Litton and the Litton family are at the core of the year-long course, said Dr. Jon C. Simonsen, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Agricultural Education and Leadership at the CAFNR. "There is definitely a tie between the characteristics and skills Jerry Litton demonstrated and what we are attempting to help foster within these college students," Simonsen said.
Course curriculum for Litton Leadership Scholars Program includes reading the Jerry Litton biography written by Bonnie Mitchell, of Chillicothe. "We put that into context of who Jerry and the Litton family were and the many characteristics that he demonstrated or are mentioned in the biography," Simonsen said. Participants learn not only about Jerry Litton, but the Litton legacy and the work of the Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation. "They have a true appreciation for the voice these folks had in agriculture many years ago and they are carrying on that voice in agriculture as these students move forward," Simonsen said.
The Litton Leadership Scholars Class provides a year-long leadership development experience designed to challenge students to not only lead while on campus but to continue the leadership momentum in their future career fields, Simonsen said. Having started the program four years ago, some of the first Leadership Scholars have entered the working world. The students thanked the foundation members for the support the foundation provides to the program. Among this year's class are a few local and area residents: Lauren Haley (Chillicothe), Madison Byrd (Keytesville), Carlee Johnson (Laredo), Adam Kirby (Trenton), and Dane Brammer (Gallatin). Already, 22 second-year students have been invited to be part of the 2017-18 class. "This is a tremendous opportunity for the students to network with the foundation and with students here on campus," Simonsen said. Each spring, the Litton Leadership Scholars program visits the Litton campus and meets with the Litton Foundation members. This fall, the Litton Foundation members will visit Columbia in conjunction with the Jerry Litton Lecture Series on Oct. 3.
The Jerry Litton Family Memorial Foundation was created in 1976 after the passing of Jerry, his wife, and their two children. Over the years, the foundation has supported the development of future leaders in the agricultural industry and beyond. The CAFNR continues the foundation's mission through the Litton Leadership Scholars Program. Other components of the endowment: the Litton Lectureship that brings interesting speakers to campus, the Litton Fellowship which supports faculty entrepreneurial activities, and the Litton Agricultural Leadership Fellowship to help students to gain farm policymaking experience.