2024 Cohort

In December 2023, NCF announced the names of the seven participants of its second Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) program, selected through a competitive national application process as members of a year-long program to build future conservation leaders through comprehensive trainings.

Meet the 2024 NGLI Cohort:

Vincent Thompson


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Vincent Thompson is a 43-year-old widowed father to his 10-year-old daughter, Finley Rose. He is Chairman of the Hardin County Conservation District Board and owner of a historic venue, known as Bethlehem Academy. Thompson raises beef cattle and goats on their family farm in Rineyville, KY. His passions include writing poetry/songs, playing guitar and other stringed instruments, advocacy for all manner of various causes, proving that chivalry is a worthwhile endeavor, and being a friendly ear for those suffering through the loss of a loved one.


Excell La Fayette, Jr.


“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” ~Walt Disney

Excell is a native son of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has raised two (2) adult sons and serves as a dedicated mentor for several other youth here in Oklahoma. Excell currently resides with his wife in Bristow, Oklahoma where he enjoys being a small-scale farmer and rancher in his rural conservation district with a personal passion for photography and an occasional motorcycle ride in the country.

Excell serves as board member & Treasurer of the Creek County Conservation District in Bristow, Oklahoma. In his post corporate life, he has dedicated much of his time and talents toward the conscientious growth, fiscal responsibility and development of his city, his rural community and the people in it. Excell is a community leader who specializes in community and corporate relationship building and business consulting. He is an effective communicator skilled in collaborating with diverse individuals at all levels and is committed to building trusting relationships through integrity and professional character. Excell holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree of Broadcast Journalism from historic Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, he is a Certified Professional Life Coach trained at the Certified Life Coach Institute–(ICF), President of La Fayette Enterprises, LLC, and is a graduate of Faith Bible Institute of Monroe, Louisiana.

Excells professional journey has been a culmination of 18+ years of progressive responsibility, effective corporate management and business development. As Director of Supplier Administration Supplier Diversity Initiatives, he also served as Director of Supplier Diversity where Excell led procurement oversight for over $3 Billion from diverse suppliers. Previous positions were Manager of Walmart Stores, Inc Television Network international and domestic markets.

Prior to joining Walmart Stores, Inc., Excells earlier career was built through the ranks at Oklahoma-based Phillips Petroleum, Video Production Representative producing public affairs, safety, executive & legal presentation videos and KTUL-TV-Channel 8 in Tulsa, Oklahoma as Studio Operations Supervisor, Electronic Field Production Producer, Photographer, and News Photojournalist.

“I am so humbled and excited to be chosen for this privilege and to be given the opportunity to learn how to make a difference and better conserve our natural resources.”

-Excell La Fayette Jr.


Kelli Bowen

North Dakota

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Kelli Bowen is a lifelong North Dakotan. She grew up in a very rural area – a small ranch between two towns with a combined population of only 126 people. Living next to a waterfowl production area, her love of both agriculture and conservation began in that rural setting from a very young age.

In 2020, Bowen started researching her county’s soil conservation district (SCD) when a friend, who worked for the local SCD, posted on social media that they needed to fill vacant positions on the board. After attending a few meetings, she submitted her application and was appointed to the county board in early 2021. Bowen enjoyed this role so much that in November 2022, she also joined the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts board.

Bowen works as the logistics lead for the region’s largest independent seed company, providing soybean, corn, and wheat seed to dealers in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. She also provides social media content for the North Dakota Farm Bureau through her blog.

Bowen lives with her husband of almost 20 years, Jayson, their two daughters, and two dogs. They live in Casselton, 20 miles from Fargo. In their down time, the family enjoys camping, bonfires, swimming, hiking, and kayaking. In the colder months, hosting holidays and friends with crockpots and salads (not made of lettuce) are frequent events. Bowen hopes to hone her leadership skills, to become a better communicator, and be a more effective soil conservation advocate in the upcoming cohort.


Kirk Daniel


“I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Kirk Daniel is a native of West Tennessee. He spends his days operating the family farm which consists of cows/calves, backgrounding feeder calves, and growing pecans. Kirk has been married to his wife, Glenn, for 30 years. They have spent many happy years raising their sons, Sam and Alex, on their family’s farm. Kirk is a member of First Baptist Church of Covington, TN, where he enjoys singing in the choir. Kirk has been a board member of the Tipton County Soil Conservation District since 2002. He has served as chairman since 2010 and the Vice President of TN Association of Conservation Districts since 2019. Kirk is also an active member of the Tennessee Cattleman’s Association, where he has served as District 2 Vice President in the past.


Glenn Takai


“Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek

Glenn Takai is 44 years old and married to Marcela Takai. They have 2 daughters, 24 and 10 years old respectively. He is also a grandfather to a 1-year-old baby girl named Ezra. Takai’s current profession, outside of being a District Director, is an 8th grade science teacher. He has been teaching for 18 years. Aside from teaching, he also owns and manages a farm part-time because he has a background in the field of agricultural sciences, specifically tropical horticulture. These experiences have motivated Takai to be more involved with conservation. He desires to impact change in a positive way for Guam and their natural resources. Takai doesn’t believes he may not be the most effective person in trying to make these changes. However, he is passionate and determined to be a difference maker in his community.

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