Zachary Rendel, Oklahoma Farmer Shares his Passion for Sorghum

zachary rendel profileZachary Rendel is a sixth generation farmer in Miami, Oklahoma. His great-great-grandfather started the farm in 1893, which currently encompasses close to 4,000 acres of sorghum, soybeans, corn, wheat, and canola. 

Rendel remembers growing up on the farm watching his grandfather, a man he admired. 

“Along with my father,” Rendel said, “my grandfather was a big influence in my life.” 

Rendel’s grandfather encouraged many of his life choices, such as moving to another state after high school to pursue another career.

Rendel thought he wanted to become a pipeline welder, so he attended a vocational welding school to become certified. Rendel stayed on the farm during harvest after graduating from high school to help out his family, but as soon as harvest was over, he packed up his things and moved to Pennsylvania to weld.  However, it did not take Rendel long to realize his true passion was farming. 

“While in Pennsylvania, I saw a family outside working on the farm,” Rendel said. “I knew, that day, I was meant to upkeep the family farm, so that’s what I did.”

It was a picture-perfect moment seeing that family on the farm for Rendel. It made him think about what he was missing out on while he was working in Pennsylvania, and living in a hotel for ten months. Rendel decided it was time to go back to Oklahoma for good, the men of his family stood behind him and supported his decision of wanting to return to the family farm. Starting out as a farm hand, he slowly made his way back into the operation.

“That is what I want to be. That is what I want to do,” Rendel said. “I found a different calling in life.”

When Rendel is not on the farm he enjoys coming home to his wife, Kristi, and two children, Charlie and Nate. When the children are not home, he likes to build projects for his wife and work in her honeydew garden, as she calls it.

“I just love to come home and spend time with my family,” Rendel said. “That is such a precious commodity to me.”

Leadership Sorghum has been a great program for Rendel not only to improve his farming, but also to better develop his leadership skills. Rendel has developed friendships and connections that he says will last him a lifetime. This program has given him a new perspective on what it means to be a leader in the farming community, and Rendel hopes this program continues to grow and prosper throughout the future for farmers.

“The older generation is starting to move out in some places,” Rendel said. “These younger farmers bring a different perspective to farming.”

As a part of the younger generation of farmers, Rendel uses social media to showcase his farm and create new opportunities for himself. During Session I of Leadership Sorghum, he was able to attend a reception where Stoller representatives were present. Later, he was asked to serve on a panel at Commodity Classic for Stoller after using social media to promote their product. As a spokesperson for Stoller, this company has helped Rendel gain new opportunities with the skills he has learned from his experience with Leadership Sorghum. Rendel plans to continue his active involvement with the sorghum industry and the farming community.  

Equipment Color: John Deere Green
Farm Tunes: Classic country, sometimes Shark Farmer podcast
Favorite Season on the Farm: All of it, year round
Favorite Part of Being a Farmer: Waking up doing exactly what I love to do
Hobbies: Craftsman work

Zachary is a member of Leadership Sorghum Class III, a program designed to foster the next generation of sorghum leaders. The program exposes members to various aspects of the sorghum industry from basic and applied research to international marketing. Through both hands-on and classroom-style education, participants 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.