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Who is going to lead agribusiness tomorrow? Who is going to serve as the employee base to help the industry grow and prosper? Charlie Fischer knows that the work done with youth in developing leadership today will shape how our world looks in the future. That's why he is very passionate about forwarding leadership education and inclusion of all people. While "leadership at all levels" is an important concept that Fischer encourages among employees at Dow AgroSciences, it extends to the work he does for the entire community.


During his tenure as chairman of the National FFA Sponsors Board, Fischer had the opportunity to interact with many of the youth serving as leaders. "The polish and positive leadership skills in these youth reinforced for me the importance of programs that help kids turn into leaders," Fischer says. "I was very proud to help the FFA enhance programs that open doors for those who will no doubt lead the industry in the future."

Fischer's ability to see the big picture is appreciated. "A real testimony to a leader is their ability to see beyond the day-to-day and think about the future leadership needed for their industry," says Bernie Staller, chief operating officer of the National FFA Organization and Foundation. "Charlie is that kind of leader who is thinking about developing the talent pool."

Staller acknowledges that Fischer has helped the FFA expand the scope of its programs to address agriculture's growing needs. "Charlie has been a key influencer of FFA's expansion into areas beyond farming, such as the food, fiber and natural resource system. He has also been very instrumental in our life sciences efforts," Staller says.

Fischer also played a role in helping move the National FFA headquarters to Indianapolis, where it sits on a corner of the Dow AgroSciences campus. "By nature of proximity, we can make youth aware of the potential employment in the ag industry," Fischer says.

Fischer has also been involved in other youth programs, such as Junior Achievement. "Junior Achievement is an important program because it helps students understand the business world. They are able to see what businesses contribute to society and understand more about career choices," he says. "I think that companies have an obligation to spend time with youth to develop their interests and skills, and my involvement with Junior Achievement allowed me to help young people become contributing members of society."


Fischer's leadership also extends to providing opportunities for those with disabilities. "Everyone has the right to live up to their potential, and I think that people and companies need to be involved in efforts that help those less fortunate to participate in meaningful ways," Fischer says. Fischer is an advocate of Noble of Indiana, a group that helps individuals with disabilities reach their potential and enhance their skills.

Every day, a team of Noble workers and their supervisors are at Dow AgroSciences helping conduct routine tasks in the area of research and development. "Putting soil into pots, cleaning the carts and thinning plants are routine but essential tasks. The Noble participants benefit by the accomplishment related to employment and helping with necessary work, and we benefit in that our scientists are freed up to focus on other things," Fischer says. "This type of program allows everyone to win - from the Noble workers, to our company and to our own employees, who feel good about how we are helping people feel included in society."

In fact, Fischer was named winner of the 2001 Noble of Indiana Community Award. This award recognizes and honors corporations or community leaders who provide outstanding service to Noble, either by enhancing governance or by facilitating the implementation of planned programs and services.

"Mr. Fischer's leadership in fostering diversity in the workforce goes beyond his commitment to providing employment," says Ervin Picha, president, Noble of Indiana. "Last year he decided that the contributions of individuals with disabilities to the workplace needed to be communicated more clearly. He directed the construction of a huge, permanent display at the company's headquarters featuring photos and captions of how the company has benefited from its partnership with Noble. This display is seen by hundreds of people who tour Dow AgroSciences each year."

Fischer's work with Noble was also recognized by the Indianapolis Mayor's Advisory Council on Disabilities. Fischer was named the 2002 Education and Employment Award winner for his dedication and commitment to providing educational training and career opportunities to persons with disabilities.

"I believe in the ability of everyone to succeed, and the men and women of Noble illustrate this belief every day," Fischer says. "It is very gratifying to open doors that can truly change lives."

Ultimately, the fate of agriculture and all business depends on the ability of future generations of leaders to take the reins. Through his involvement with youth and encouraging inclusion, Charlie Fischer has dedicated his time to developing leadership at all levels. AM

AgriMarketing would like to thank Kenda Resler Friend of Dow AgroSciences, LLC, for her contribution to this supplement.

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