Leadership Sorghum

About Leadership Sorghum

The Sorghum Checkoff is developing the next generation of leaders for the sorghum industry with its Leadership Sorghum program.

Throughout the program, Leadership Sorghum class members are exposed to various aspects of the sorghum industry from basic and applied research to international marketing. Through both hands-on and classroom-style education, participants will gain an understanding of how sorghum moves through the value chain, how checkoffs and interest organizations interact on behalf of the industry and what the future holds for the crop. The program also provides professional development training and networking opportunities. 

leadership sorghum

Class V Schedule

Zoom Program: China Demand for Sorghum | December 15, 2020
Theme: Promoting U.S. Sorghum for Current and Future Sales-Florentino Lopez, Sorghum Checkoff

Zoom Program: Technology in Sorghum | January 13, 2021
Theme: What is New in Sorghum-Brent Bean, Ph.D., Sorghum Checkoff

Zoom Program: Washington, D.C. Update | February 10, 2021
Theme: What Does the New Administration Mean for Sorghum?-Tim Lust, National Sorghum Producers

 **Program Break for Planting Season

Program I: Turning Demand Into Profit | Kansas-July 27-29, 2021
Theme: Public research, connecting to and protecting profit in domestic markets and risk management 

Program II: From the Ground Up | Lubbock, Texas–September 13-15, 2021
Theme: Exploring the seed industry, marketing your grain and connecting to markets

Program III: In the Boardroom | Lubbock, Texas - TBD December 2021

Program IV: Program & Resource Awareness | Washington D.C. - TBD February 2022
Theme: Making the most of government programs for young and beginning farmers

Program V: Broader Horizons | New Orleans - June 22-24, 2022
Theme: Connecting your farm to the global market, establishing baselines for farm business and industry

Leadership Sorghum Class V Members

David Barrett from Sinton, Texas
John Browning from Plainview, Texas
Matthew Crane from Pritchett, Colorado
Daniel Hopper from Leonardville, Kansas
Winter Johnston from McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania
Deanna Lanier from Valley Center, Kansas
Matt McCune from Plainville, Kansas
Brant Peterson from Johnson, Kansas
Gage Porter from Mercer, Missouri
Dale Stoltzfus from Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania
Ciera Ware from Ralls, Texas
Brian Younker from Spearville, Kansas
Kirk Zerr from Quniter, Kansas

Program Mission

Leadership Sorghum seeks to develop the next generation of leaders for the sorghum industry.

Program Objectives

  • Recruit new leadership and prepare participants interested in pursuing leadership roles within the sorghum industry.
  • Expose participants to and educate them about the sorghum industry.

Building Grassroots

Leadership Sorghum prepares sorghum farmers to be an advocate for sorghum and agriculture on a local, regional and national platform. To date, Leadership Sorghum has resulted in 45 farmers from 13 different states. Leadership Sorghum alumni are more involved within state and national organizations and committees as a result of the program.

Industry Gains

Leadership is vital to the success of any industry, and Leadership Sorghum provides the necessary resources to lead our industry in the future. The first two classes of the Leadership Sorghum program have facilitated growers from 11 states who all bring different perspectives to the sorghum industry, including their cropping systems and their own farming operation structure. Leadership Sorghum highlights the Sorghum Checkoff by showcasing where producers’ dollars are being invested and the level of synergy that exists within the sorghum industry.


The biggest gain I received from Leadership Sorghum was the eye-opening detail of the industry. The great leadership skills given during each session have not only made me a better sorghum farmer but a better community leader as well. There are a million reason why a producer or anyone connected to sorghum should participate in Leadership Sorghum, but they all come down to one thing, being a member and representative of a great team. Zack Rendel – Miami, Oklahoma – Class III

Being outside the traditional sorghum belt, I had great interest in learning about the crop first hand. Leadership Sorghum provided me the knowledge to become more confident in my choices on my own operation along with helping others in my area brand new to growing the crop. Joe Krippner – Kimball, Minnesota – Class III

If you grow sorghum you should know every part of the business. This program will show you from the breeding all the way to getting it to another country. It is a very exciting process to learn everything. Jesse Wyrill – Kirwin, Kansas – Class II

I think that as farmers we need to be more engaged in our production, informing the public and in leadership. I think that this type of a program is essential to building more understanding, more leadership and as farmers doing a better job of promoting our business to the public. Kent Martin – Carmen, Oklahoma – Class II

Leadership Sorghum has provided me the ability to expand my horizon in the sorghum industry. I have enjoyed presentations from seed geneticist, plant breeders, U.S. Congressman, international grain buyers and many more experts in their fields. Without being a part of this group, I would have never had the pleasure of doing this. The other 14 class members have been one of the most enjoyable parts of Leadership Sorghum. Being able to talk about different farming practices, marketing, and much more has been great. I have enjoyed being surrounded by motivated, like minded producers. The whole experience has been refreshing to me. Mike Baker - Trenton, Nebraska - Class I

Leadership Sorghum gave me a whole new understanding of sorghum, not only in our industry, but also as a consumer. I learned about many different uses for sorghum, and also the important role that biomass sorghum, and sweet sorghum have in our society as an energy and fuel source. I feel that sorghum has a successful future not only on our farm, but all throughout country since it is a drought tolerant, and water sipping crop. It will always be a profitable crop in our farming rotation. Josh Levin - Kensington, Kansas - Class I

For questions regarding Leadership Sorghum, contact:

Shelee Padgett, Regional Director