Skip to main content

Nelson Selected for 20th Class of LeadAR

Desarae Nelson
Desarae Nelson

Dr. Desarae Nelson, director of TRIO Student Support Services at UA Little Rock, has been selected for Class 20 of LeadAR.

Nelson joins 20 other talented Arkansans selected for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s leadership program, which provides an in-depth learning experience about economic and social issues impacting the state.

“I feel like it’s an excellent program, and I’m honored to have been selected as a participant of Class 20,” Nelson said. “I wanted the opportunity to grow as a person individually and professionally and to give back to my community.”

Operated by the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service, LeadAR was founded in 1984 and originally modeled after the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s leadership training program. LeadAR now has more than 500 alumni serving as leaders in their communities throughout Arkansas.

The program kicked off with a team-building and goal-setting seminar May 24-26 at the C.A. Vines Arkansas 4-H Center at Little Rock.

“It’s definitely been a wonderful networking experience so far,” Nelson said. “I’ve already started to implement some of the information I’ve learned from our initial meeting into my team at TRIO Student Support Services. We will have a better understanding of how to capitalize on people’s strengths and take advantage of people’s talents.”

Over the next 18 months, Class 20 members will travel to two-day seminars around the state, covering topics such as infrastructure and public health, natural resources, agriculture, livestock, and community and economic development.

“I’m looking forward to the entire LeadAR program and its affiliation with the Division of Agriculture,” Nelson said. “I grew up on a small farm, so agriculture and that aspect of our state economy has always been an interest of mine.”

The program includes a national study tour to Washington, D.C. in the fall, where participants will learn about policy development and meet with their congressional delegation to discuss issues impacting their communities. Members will also travel on an international study tour in 2024, where they will learn how international issues and policy decisions impact the United States and Arkansas.

“The overall goal of LeadAR is to equip leaders with the knowledge, skills, and network they need to make a difference in their communities or organization,” said Julie Robinson, extension associate professor for community, professional, and economic development for the Division of Agriculture. “They will learn about issues affecting rural and urban areas of Arkansas and how the state is interwoven.”