Training Cotton’s Future Leaders

Training Cotton’s Future Leaders

From Cotton Grower Magazine – May 2016



The cotton business is a complex system of moving parts and professions that ensure cotton is ginned, graded, warehoused, marketed and delivered in a timely manner to benefit all segments of the industry.

In short, there’s a lot to learn.

For more than three decades, some of the world’s best and brightest young minds from the industry have taken time away from their offices or farms to immerse themselves in the details of the cotton business through two sources – the American Cotton Shippers Association (ACSA) International Cotton Institute in Memphis and the Texas International Cotton School in Lubbock.

Both schools have developed excellent reputations throughout the world, and many of their graduates now fill cotton leadership positions in their respective companies and countries.

ACSA International Cotton Institute

This year, the International Cotton Institute will convene June 1-July 15 for its 2016 session. Dozens of students from multiple countries will gather on the campus of the University of Memphis for an in-depth look at the cotton industry.

“This year will mark the 22nd consecutive year for the Institute,” said Bill Griffin, program director for the ACSA school. “Over that time, we have welcomed and trained roughly 800 students from 71 different countries.”

The program combines classroom discussion – led by Griffin and guest faculty members and mentors who are successful cotton industry professionals in their respective fields – and field trips that provide hands-on exposure to cotton production, ginning, classing, marketing and promotion.

“The program basics remain the same, but we do tweak it every year,” explained Griffin. “For instance, I’m adding a section on drones this year, because they’re being used more and more for agricultural purposes. I also picked up several new things from this year’s Bremen International Cotton Conference that we will add to the program.”

More information about the ACSA International Cotton Institute can be found online.

Texas International Cotton School

The Texas International Cotton School will welcome its 36th class on August 1-12. The school is a cooperative effort of the Lubbock Cotton Exchange, Texas Tech University and the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute.

“We have had over 500 graduates from 54 countries go through the program,” said Darren Newton, president of the Lubbock Cotton Exchange. “Those graduates include producers, traders, government officials and graduate students.”

The two-week school is structured to provide an integrated understanding of the Texas cotton industry and its role within the global cotton/textile business. The curriculum will focus on multiple aspects of the industry, including breeding strategies, production systems, fiber properties and measurements, yarn and fabric properties, sustainability issues, Pima cotton, ginning and classing, bale section, and a host of marketing-related subjects.

Field visits to farms and cotton-related businesses in the area are also part of the agenda.

“The program is a hands-on, integrated course,” added Newton. “As an alum of the school, I can tell you it was invaluable at the beginning of my career. It shaped me into the cotton trader that I am today.”

The Texas International Cotton School website can provide details on enrollment, curriculum, lodging, meals and other information about the Lubbock area.