The Colorado Farm Bureau is pleased to welcome class six of the Elite Leadership Academy. The program  is a year-long, intensive leadership and professional development program for Farm Bureau members wishing to take their leadership and advocacy skills to the next level. Members of the class will learn about various issues throughout the agriculture industry and beyond. This year’s class will discuss topics such as labor, endangered species, hemp, state ballot measures, federal agriculture programs and so much more.

“Developing leaders throughout our organization is vital to our future,” says Chad Vorthmann, Executive Vice President of the Colorado Farm Bureau. “”In this class, they’ll learn the skills to effectively advocate for the industry at the grocery store, local town halls, the state capitol and in Washington, D.C. We look forward to what this class will do in the future.”

In addition to intensive leadership training, participants also receive training in communications and advocacy, media relations, public speaking, and networking. Class members participate in six intensive training sessions. Each session includes a networking dinner, principal and application studies, intensive case studies and think tank–type discussion with an educator. The class also travels yearly to visit agricultural operations in other states, and to Washington D.C. as a capstone trip upon completion of the program.

“This is a really diverse class,” says Kacie Sallee, the director of the program. “They each bring a unique perspective that will lead to meaningful discussions and ultimately make the program stronger.”

Get to know this year’s class:

Sara Bray has been a Colorado educator for the past 16 years. She received her BS in human development and family studies from Colorado State University in 2002, her Provisional Teaching License from University of Northern Colorado in 2003, and her MA in educational leadership and policy studies (including a CO School Principal K-12 License) in 2019 from the University of Denver. Sara has taught in both urban and rural school districts and remains passionate about helping underserved students and families. She is currently teaching First Grade in the West End Public Schools in Naturita, CO.

Sara is involved in several community and professional organizations and currently serves on the MOSM Farm Bureau board as well as the Lone Cone Republican Women’s board. She is a former member of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee (2014-2016) and remains passionate about advocating for agriculture both locally and statewide.

She is actively involved in her school and community as well as her local church. Her priorities remain her family, her students, her ranch, and her community.  She strives to make each better with every opportunity she has to connect, change, and/or lead initiatives.

Joel Currier was born in Grand Junction, Colorado and raised on his family’s ranch located in Molina, Colorado. After graduating from Plateau Valley High School in 2011 he attended Colorado State University where he received a BS in agricultural business in 2016. He then returned home to work on the family ranch. In his free time, Joel volunteers with the local fire department as a firefighter and EMT. Joel is also very involved in Colorado Farm Bureau where he serves on the Mesa County Farm Bureau Board as well as the Vice Chair of the State Young Farmer and Rancher Committee.

Sabrina Hornung was raised on a farm and ranch near Burlington, Colorado. She received a BS in business administration with a concentration in finance and a minor in agricultural economics from Colorado State University in 2000. Sabrina worked as a commercial and agricultural credit analyst in Kersey, Colorado for two years before moving back home to do books for her family.

She and her husband Andy were married in 2003 and live south of Burlington with their four children, Isabella (13), twins Dominic and Gabriel (9), and Benjamin (5). They lease about 1,500 irrigated and 2,500 dryland acres of farmland south of Arapahoe, Colorado where they grow winter wheat, corn, and grain sorghum.

Sabrina continues to keep books and also takes great pleasure in teaching high school students history, government, and economics at Sacred Heart Academy in Burlington.

Kole Kelley grew up in Alamosa, Colorado – the heart of the San Luis Valley – on a small, family-run livestock operation. His family raises limousine-cross cattle and show pigs. Kelley recently graduated from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, with a JD degree and a certificate in Constitutional Rights and Remedies. While at Denver Law, Kelley served on the University of Denver Water Law Review, as a staff member, business editor, and editor-in-chief.

Before law school, Kelley attended Adams State University, obtaining a BS in business administration with an emphasis in agribusiness and a minor in economics. While at Adams State, Kelley was also a member of the football team, playing wide receiver for the Grizzlies. Kelley is currently a part of the Burns, Figa & Will, P.C. team, where he works on water, oil and gas, and litigation matters.

Kelley also serves as the District 6 Colorado Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee representative.

Nate Lamers was born in Denver, Colorado before moving to Castle Rock, Colorado with his family. The summers he spent with his aunt on her ranch in Norwood turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. It was there that he found his true calling, ranching. He loved everything about this lifestyle and although he moved around some, the ranch always pulled him back home.

In 2012 he met the woman of his dreams and in December 2014 they were married. Nate and his wife now live in Norwood with their 2 beautiful daughters ages 1 and 3. Nate works at the local power plant 4 days a week and spends almost all of his free time at the family ranch where he and his wife have about 20 head of their own cattle. The ranch runs about 900 sheep and 600 cattle.

Caleigh Payne is a cattle manager on a 300 head cow-calf operation in Southern Colorado.  She also manages a beef marketing cooperative and runs a western lifestyle photography business to connect with consumers. She has had 10 years of professional experience in agriculture.

After completing her master’s degree in ruminant nutrition and immunology, Caleigh worked on several ranches in the west throughout South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, and Colorado. She is passionate about sharing the story of agriculture and helping others who work in agriculture succeed.