Leadership Sorghum II Kicks Off with First Session

The Sorghum Checkoff hosted the first session of Leadership Sorghum Class II Sept. 3-5 in the Texas Panhandle, focusing on the sorghum seed industry and private research. An estimated 80 percent of the U.S. sorghum seed production takes place in the Texas Panhandle offering a unique opportunity for the class to visit the breeding nurseries of some of the industry's top seed companies.

Leadership Sorghum Class II (Back Row L to R) Lee Whitaker, Lance Russell, Craig Poore, Nathan Larson, Casey Crossland, Josh Birdwell, Joel Spring, Joe Rohrbach, Carlton Bridgeforth. (Front Row L to R) Greg Glover, Kent Martin, Kelsey Baker, Jessie Wyrill, Chris Robinson, Dan Atkisson.

The program kicked off with a program orientation and professional development training. One aspect of the Leadership Sorghum program in addition to experiencing the various aspects of the U.S. sorghum industry is to engage class members in professional development opportunities to fine tune their skills in areas such as business and dining etiquette, goal setting and media training. These skills, along with a broad knowledge of the different sectors of the industry, prepare class members for future leadership responsibilities while developing them as advocates for sorghum and U.S. agriculture.

Dr. Erica Irlbeck, assistant professor at Texas Tech University's Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, conducts mock interviews with class members during media training.

Following orientation, the class toured the sorghum nurseries of multiple private seed companies including Chromatin Inc. in Idalou, DuPont Pioneer in Plainview, Richardson Seeds in Vega and NexSteppe in Hereford.

Leadership Sorghum II outside the USDA-ARS facility in Lubbock, Texas.
USDA-ARS Laboratory Director Dr. John Burke overviews the facility's sorghum breeding projects.

Each company's nursery tour offered a glimpse into their commitment to sorghum breeding and the exciting advancements being made in the crop. Advanta's Alta Seeds hosted the class for breakfast in Amarillo and gave an overview of their sorghum breeding priorities.

Advanta hosted the class for breakfast in Amarillo while overviewing the company's sorghum breeding projects.
Members of Leadership Sorghum II tour the Richardson Seeds bagging facility near Vega, Texas.
Leadership Sorghum Class II, Sorghum Checkoff staff and NexSteppe breeders stand among the towering biomass sorghum at NexSteppe's nursery near Hereford, Texas.
Chromatin Inc.'s Larry Lambright and Kerry Mayfield meet with the class at the Chromatin nursery near Idalou, Texas.

The next session of Leadership Sorghum II will be held in Kansas in November, focusing on domestic markets and public research.

Leadership Sorghum is a program hosted by the Sorghum Checkoff aimed at developing the next generation of leaders for the sorghum industry. The 16-month, five-session program exposes class members to various aspects of the sorghum industry from basic 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. 

For more information about the program, visit www.SorghumCheckoff.com/leadership.