The Program

History and Funding

photo of KALP directors

In the photo, current and former KALP directors: (left to right) Will Snell, Steve Isaacs, Randall Barnett (1985-1995), and Larry Jones (1996-2009)

The Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program (KALP) and its predecessor, the Philip Morris Agricultural Leadership Program have been in existence since 1985 preparing participants to accept leadership responsibility in agriculture, agribusiness and rural communities. By improving communication skills, broadening understanding of major policy issues, especially issues facing agriculture and rural communities, and gaining an understanding of the effects of internationalization (globalization) on agriculture and rural communities, program graduates gain the self awareness and confidence to be an effective leader.

Philip Morris USA, along with participant fees and in-kind contributions from the University of Kentucky provided funding for the first seven agricultural leadership classes from 1985 to 2005, which included participants from Kentucky and surrounding burley tobacco producing states. The first KALP class (exclusively Kentucky participants) was funded by grants from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, the UK College of Agriculture, Philip Morris USA, alumni gifts and fees from participants. Class XII and future classes are being funded from an endowment that originated with a $1 million investment from the Ag Development board and contributions from agricultural organizations, agribusiness, alumni and other individuals, and participant fees.

292 individuals have graduated from the program. Lists of class alumni can be accessed at Dr. Randall Barnett served as the director of the program from 1985 to 1995 (Classes I - IV). Dr. Larry Jones directed Classes V - VIII from 1996 to 2009. The current co-directors, Dr. Will Snell and Dr. Steve Isaacs assisted Dr. Jones with Class VIII and now serve as co-directors of the program.

Funding for the program is provided by Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, participant tuition fees and contributions from agribusinesses, farm organizations, program alumni, and others supporting the program. Cash expenses for a class are approximately $300,000 or $15,000 per participant, with an additional $10,000 to $15,000 of in-kind expenses per participant. To help offset the costs of the program, each participant for Class XII will be required to pay $2,500 in two $1,250 installments. For a list of program sponsors, details on program funding, and ways to contribute go to KALP Sponsors.


  • To prepare participants to accept leadership responsibility in agriculture, agribusiness and rural communities.
  • To enhance participants ability to represent agriculture as effective communicators.
  • To broaden understanding of major policy issues, especially issues facing agriculture and rural communities.
  • To gain an understanding of the effects of internationalization (globalization) on agriculture and rural communities.
  • Develop participant "self awareness" and confidence for being an effective leader.
  • To facilitate participant collaboration with others, including establishing mentoring relationships with professionals serving agriculture and rural communities.
  • To foster an "entrepreneurial spirit" leading to an entrepreneurial culture in Kentucky's rural communities which will help leaders and agricultural organizations adjust to changing markets and changing policies at the local, state, national and international levels.
  • To encourage "lifelong" learning and development as a leader and to share those leadership skills with others.

Seminar Basics

Photo of KALP class on a tour.

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The program consists of ten seminars, including trips to Frankfort, Washington D.C, Kentucky agribusinesses, and to visit agriculture in another state, along with an international trip which is selected with input by the participants. Kentucky based seminars will be conducted at various locations across the state. Educational (non-travel) seminars are 2-4 days in duration. Seminars generally occur once a month in January, February, March, July, October, November, and December. In-class seminar topics focus on:

  • Leadership, Communication, and Management Skills
  • Understanding the Political Process at the National, State, and Local Levels
  • Agricultural Issues and Policies

Travel seminars include:

  • A five day domestic travel seminar to Washington D.C. to learn about the federal public policy process and to interact with national leaders and government agencies.
  • A five day domestic travel seminar to another state to visit with farmers and ag leaders to better understand their agricultural economy, issues and challenges (budget permitting) Previous classes have visited the central valley in California, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee.
  • A 12-14 day international travel seminar to visit a major agricultural producing region of the world that is a competitor of Kentucky and U.S. agriculture. In addition to observing agriculture in another country, the international seminar exposes participants to differing cultures and customs and allows class members to grasp a better understanding of the effect that globalization is having on the U.S. agricultural and overall economies. Previous classes have traveled to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and South Africa.

Advisory Board

According to the terms and conditions outlined in the legal agreement with the Governor's Office of Ag Policy, the directors of the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program will utilize a state-wide advisory board to assist in the selection process of future classes, outline curriculum goals, help determine seminar locations/programs/speakers/evaluation, and provide financial oversight. The advisory board will insure that a dedicated effort is made to recruit a class that is diversified in terms of race, gender, farm size, commodities represented, and geographic region. The legal agreement states that the advisory board shall consist of the following members (with the current designated advisory board member in parenthesis):

  • Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy (Warren Beeler) or his designee,
  • A representative from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board (Pat Henderson),
  • Five representatives from five different regional universities with agricultural programs (Dr. Tony Brannon, Murray State University,Dr. Johnny R. Westbrook, Kentucky State University, Dr. Bruce Pratt, Eastern Kentucky University, Joe Fraley, Morehead State University, Dr. Todd Willian, Western Kentucky University).
  • Four alumni from our Ag Leadership Program (Rod Kuegel, Class I; Laura Knoth, Class V; Brian Lacefield, Class IX, Joanna Carraway, Class XI).
  • A representative from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation (David S. Beck).
  • Two Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program Directors; Dr. Steve Isaacs, and Dr. Will Snell

Leadership and Staff

Photo of Steve Isaacs

Steve Isaacs

Program Co-Director

303 Charles E. Barnhart Bldg.
Lexington, KY 40546-0246
Phone: 859-257-7255

Photo of Will Snell

Will Snell

Program Co-Director

315 Charles E. Barnhart Bldg.
Lexington, KY 40546-0246
Phone: 859-257-7288

Photo of Phyllis Mattox

Phyllis Mattox

Program Coordinator

321 Charles E. Barnhart Bldg.
Lexington, KY 40546-0246
Phone: 859-257-7292

Photo of Emily Brown

Emily Brown

302 Charles E. Barnhart Bldg.
Lexington, KY 40546-0246
Phone: 859-218-3661

Photo of Kathy Roe

Kathy Roe

301 Charles E. Barnhart Bldg.
Lexington, KY 40546-0246
Phone: 859-218-5112