Valerie McKee

Valerie McKee
Mentor: Dr. Hannah Carter
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"In middle school and high school, I competed in regional and state science fairs with my behavioral projects. After pursuing my current major, Communication and Leadership Development, I realize now that my passion for leadership education is in part due to my interest in behavioral studies. I have always enjoyed studying groups and organizations. I like to observe the leadership practices and strategies used to maintain efficiency and obtain goals. The Wedgworth Leadership Institute is a unique organization purposed to develop leadership in private sector agriculturalists, individuals who are at the front lines of many real world issues affecting today's food production and supply. My agricultural background lends itself to understanding how efficient WLI is at developing leaders in the agriculture industry."


Agricultural Education and Communication



Research Interests

  • Leadership Theory
  • Behavioral Studies
  • Organizational Psychology

Academic Awards

  • UF President's List
  • Adrian M. Sample Scholarship
  • Okeechobee High School Class of 2010 Valedictorian


  • UF Agricultural Communicators and Leaders of Tomorrow
  • CALS Honors Program
  • CALS Leadership Institute


  • Florida FFA Association
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • More 2 Life Ministries

Hobbies and Interests

  • Fishing/Scuba Diving
  • Running
  • Bible Study
  • Leadership Education

Research Description

Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources Evaluation
"Agricultural leadership programs have been and are continuing to be designed to equip participants with greater skills and knowledge to enable them to become effective leaders in their organizations, communities, and industries. UF/IFAS is home to such an agricultural leadership program, the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources (WLIANR). The intent of this program is to develop and refine the leadership capabilities of individuals within Florida’s agriculture and natural resource industries who, in turn, will be prepared to become increasingly involved in policy formation – be it policy that directly applies to all segments of Florida agriculture and natural resources, or public policy that will affect both the rural communities that participants live in and the future viability of Florida agriculture and natural resources either in a direct or indirect manner. The target audience of the WLIANR is men and women in the private sector of Florida’s agricultural and natural resource industries between the ages of 25-45 who derive a “substantial” percentage of income from occupations in Florida agriculture, natural resources, and/or related areas and are also committed to providing effective leadership in their organizations, industries, and communities. Since 1991, there have been eight classes to complete this twenty-two month program. To date, there are over 200 trained alumni of the program who are providing leadership in agriculture within the state, nationally and internationally as well. While the program has enjoyed a great deal of success, in-depth evaluations of the program’s structure, content and criteria have not been conducted. The goal of this evaluation project is to survey perceptions of the program’s content and outcomes through the utilization of focus group research and participation of WLIANR alumni from across the state. In addition, this research has a secondary goal—to compare the findings of three different types of focus groups (in person, on-line video and on-line chat) for the “richness” of data provided.