Arizona’s rural leadership program, Project CENTRL, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary at a Gala Graduation and Alumni Dinner October 19th. The event will be held at the Grace Inn in Tempe. Formed in 1982 with support from Arizona Farm Bureau, the University of Arizona and other organizations, Project CENTRL has provided leadership training to more than 500 rural leaders over the past 25 years.

A highlight of the upcoming Gala Graduation and Alumni Dinner is the presentation of the Outstanding Alumni Awards under four categories. The award winners are Tracy Candelaria of Concho for Community Service; Diane Joens of Cottonwood for Natural Resources; Eddie Browning of Gilbert for Public Policy, and Arizona Farm Bureau member Dan Thelander of Maricopa for Agriculture.

Thelander is being recognized for his tireless efforts to make air quality regulations work for the agriculture industry and community at large.

More than ever, leaders of rural communities continue to seek solutions to complex problems such as rural urban interface, the management and use of natural resources, economic development, regional planning, and communicating information on key public policy issues. It is apparent that rural and agricultural leaders must be better trained and more knowledgeable to meet the growing demands and challenges facing Arizona.

The Project CENTRL educational program consists of twelve highly interactive seminars scheduled over two years. Class members also have a five-day state or international exchange seminar at the end of the first year. This seminar is an in-depth visit with another state or country that has a similar rural or agricultural leadership program. A national seminar is taken at the end of the second year to Washington D.C. All class members are required to complete an internship that is designed to apply leadership skills learned during Project CENTRL in a community based project.

“With the upcoming graduation of Class XVIII in October, over 500 individuals will have completed CENTRL Leadership Training,” states Ben Cloud, President of the Project CENTRL Alumni Council. “Graduates of Project CENTRL are active leaders in business, community and government. We have a growing number of elected and appointed members of government.”

Six members of Arizona Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher program have been accepted into the incoming Class XIX, assuring strong leadership for the future.

For more information on the Gala, please contact Project CENTRL at (520) 316-0909.