Nonresident Fellows Program: A Point of Excellence
As I reflect on the operations of the Agricultural Division over the past several years, I can think of many changes that have been made to enhance the division's effective and efficient execution of its mission to deliver information, programs, products and services to area land managers. One change I feel has had a significant positive impact upon the Ag Division's operations has been the initiation of its nonresident fellow program. The primary purpose of this program, which was finalized in fall 2002, is to solicit independent, critical review of our programs, processes and procedures.
A nonresident fellow (NRF) could be an agriculture consultant; agribusiness professional; university, Extension or research professional; USDA researcher; Noble Research Institute cooperator; or non-cooperator agricultural producer.
The initial panel of NRFs began service on January 1, 2003. They were: Mike Brooks, Howard Cattle Company, Ringling, Okla.; Dr. Floyd P. Horn, USDA (retired), Owings, Md.; Dr. William L. Meis, eMerge Interactive, College Station, Texas; Dr. Clint Roush, Clint Roush Farms, Inc., Arapaho, Okla.; Michael Salisbury, Salisbury Management Services, Twin Falls, Idaho; and Dr. Richard Teague, Texas A&M Research & Extension Center, Vernon, Texas.
The Ag Management Group did a terrific job of selecting this group to serve as the initial NRFs. Not only were they all bright and energetic, but they were also keenly attuned to the issues facing our Ag Division specialists and the agriculture producers in our region. But, more importantly, they really wanted to help.
The primary responsibilities of the NRFs are:
- review present and future strategic plans;
- review all Ag Division primary programs;
- annually review one, five and ten-year plans;
- provide input in the development of new and innovative programs and services.
Additional responsibilities of the NRFs are:
- annually review the strategic plan and any amendments to the plan;
- review annual report of all educational activities;
- review annual research and demonstration report;
- review all new research and demonstration proposals and provide comments and suggestions;
- review and comment on all special project or development project proposals and annual progress reports;
- review annual consultation report;
- be available for general advice;
- visit the Noble Research Institute for a three-day period once each year to meet with selected staff, tour the research and demonstration farms and report to the Noble Research Institute president and Agricultural Division management. Within 30 days after this meeting, a written summary report will be delivered to the Noble Research Institute president and the Agricultural Division director.
Before assuming their duties, the NRFs are advised that "frankness, candor and critical analysis are being solicited from the NRFs not just cursory review and comment followed by unmerited remarks of commendation."
The first meeting of the Ag Division NRFs took place in February 2003. Since that time, they have met in Ardmore on five other occasions and have provided invaluable critique and input to the Ag Division management.
The Noble Research Institute Agricultural Division is a better place today because of our NRF program.
Mike Brooks and Floyd Horn have rotated out of the nonresident fellow group because they have completed their terms. Their service was marked by diligence, a thorough understanding of the issues and a willingness to spend whatever time necessary to enhance the Ag Division. We sincerely appreciate their efforts.