Leadership Program Provides Insight into Sorghum Industry


By: Kayla M. Wilkins, Communications Intern

Jessie Wyrill knows how crucial it is to understand how the sorghum industry operates from seed selection to the end use. Eagerness to learn more is how she found herself in the Leadership Sorghum program.

Wyrill, a sixth generation farmer from Kirwin, Kansas, and a Leadership Sorghum Class II graduate, said  with sorghum gaining momentum, she quickly became attracted to the educational opportunities available through Leadership Sorghum.

"I think it is important to know every aspect of the industry you are growing for," Wyrill said. "We need to know how our grain gets places and who is getting our grain, and that is what Leadership Sorghum did for me."

Since Wyrill joined her husband’s family operation ten years ago, the farm has reinstated grain sorghum in the crop rotation along with corn and wheat. They found the change beneficial in more ways than one.

She said from an agronomic standpoint, sorghum is desirable because it adds diversity to their operation. Additionally, she said it is not only a low-input, high-profitability crop, but it has also been increasingly important for their cattle operation.

The family utilizes sorghum stalks for grazing in the winter months, and Wyrill said the nutritional value of sorghum is another positive attribute for their cattle.

Wyrill’s own farming background helped mold her into who she is today she said, and she loves raising her daughter in the same environment—an opportunity she said is very special to her because she is able to work alongside those she cares about most every day.   

Just as Wyrill sees the value in her daughter being exposed to all aspects of agriculture, she also realizes the importance of sorghum producers understanding all facets of the sorghum industry.

She said the five short trips away from the farm during the duration of the program were worth the time commitment. In addition to the knowledge and exposure she gained, Wyrill said she walked away with numerous friends from across the country.

"The friendships are what is really unique because you are meeting people in the sorghum industry from all over the country where you can get ideas from others and see what they do in other states," Wyrill said.

Ultimately, Wyrill said she was provided the tools during the program to add valuable conversation to the table when it comes to grain sorghum production on their farm.

"Family and friends come to me asking questions because I have seen every part of the sorghum industry," Wyrill said. "They are hoping that I have seen it, and a lot of the time, the Leadership Sorghum program showed me what they were wondering. The program helped me have a well-rounded knowledge of the sorghum industry."

Jessie Wyrill is a graduate of Leadership Sorghum Class II. The program was designed by the Sorghum Checkoff to develop the next generation of leaders for the sorghum industry. For more information about the program, visit www.leadershipsorghum.com.