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TECHNICAL SESSION: Plant Science Outreach and Education

Nationwide Assessment of Leadership Development for Graduate Students in Agricultural Plant Sciences
Karen Ferreira Da Silva - University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Leadership development is a universally important goal across the agricultural plant science disciplines. Although previous studies identified a need for leadership skills, less is known about leadership skill development programming in graduate programs. To address this, we constructed a mixed-method study to assess current graduate students, and early-, mid-, and late-career scientists about their leadership experiences. We sent an online survey to 6,728 agricultural plant scientists that were U.S.-based members of the APS, Entomological Society of America, and the tri societies (ASA-CSSA-SSSA). There were a total of 1,086 completed responses. Most participants reported employment in doctoral institutions (42.7%), followed by industry (20.3%), and government (17.7%). Among experiences identified important for their leadership role(s), 95.7% of graduate students and 90.0% of scientists identified ‘observing other leaders’ as top most significant by both groups. The second most identified among graduate students was ‘mentoring students in research’ and among scientists was ‘job experiences’. The third most identified by graduate students was ‘mentorship from graduate advisor’ and among scientists, ‘mentoring students in field or lab research’. Respondents ranked the top three leadership skills for success in their leadership roles as: 'effective listening', 'ability to identify and analyze problems', and 'well-developed ethic, integrity, and loyalty'. Data will be used to identify priorities for leadership skill development and opportunities for graduate student training.