The application period is now open for the 17th annual class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program, presented by the United Fresh Foundation’s Center for Leadership Excellence. The program, made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, is a special opportunity for United Fresh members to advance their leadership skills and knowledge.

Launched in 1995, the Produce Industry Leadership Program is the only ongoing, fully paid national leadership program for the produce industry, and is developed around the four fundamental goals of leadership development, business relationships, government and public affairs, and media and public relations. During the year-long fellowship, participants will take part in a series of customized trips which include face-to-face meetings with leading industry players, hands-on training with top industry experts and educators, interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington and much more. This year's schedule will feature trips to Central California, Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Delaware, and Central Chile. The class will graduate at the 2012 United Fresh Convention in Dallas.

Participation in the program is limited to 12 fellows who are selected by an Advisory Committee, chaired by United Fresh Board member and Class 10 alumnus Jackson Woodward of Horton Fruit Company. The fellows are chosen from a broad cross-section of the industry to represent the breadth of the United Fresh membership. Since the program’s inception, more than 190 industry members have participated.

“For a rising professional in the produce industry, this is the most comprehensive program available,” said Woodward. “It blends industry knowledge and exposure with professional development and business training for a fully-rounded experience. I encourage anyone who is looking to advance their career and their leadership skills to apply today."

Candidates interested in applying for the program can download information and an application at www.unitedfresh.org/programs or apply online at http://www.unitedfresh.org/programs/2011_leadership_program_application. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 4, 2011. The Leadership Program is an exclusive program for United Fresh members only. There is no cost to participate in the program and all regular expenses are covered through program funding. For more information, contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education manager, at jjacocks@unitedfresh.org or 202-303-3405.