Jon Berning - Success from Family to Farm


Jon Berning“A friend and I played with our tractors when we were about three all the way on up until we were about 33. I knew this is what I wanted to do all my life,” said Jon Berning, Leadership Sorghum Class IV member.

Jon Berning, native of Scott City, Kansas, left the farm for two years before the opportunity arose for him to come back and join his father, and eventually younger brother, on the family farm. It has been over 20 years since he returned, and Berning has learned the value of having his family close in his line of work.

Berning has a stepson who works in local law enforcement, a daughter attending Kansas State University and a son finishing his senior year of high school. His youngest son is looking forward to following in his father’s footsteps and continuing the family farming legacy. Berning and his wife, Terri, have been happily married for over 20 years.

Berning currently serves as school board president in Scott City among other community leadership roles and cites active community involvement as his civic duty.

 “To whom much is given much is expected,” said Berning on the topic of his civic involvement. “It’s what you’re supposed to do.”

Despite community involvement and responsibilities on the farm, being actively involved in his children’s lives remains a priority.

“I drop everything to go to my kid’s activities,” said Berning. “You can probably count on one hand, maybe a couple of fingers, how many things of theirs I’ve missed because of other things going on. I drop everything because with your kids you don’t have much time.”

Returning to the farm is something Berning has never regretted.

“Farming is a great way of life. You get to be your own boss, per se, and you get to watch seeds grow- kind of like we get to do with our kids, you plant the seed and watch them grow and just get to enjoy it.”

There are a lot of people Berning credits with making his lifestyle possible. Aside from his family, his bank and his landlords are crucial to his career success.

“Our bank is totally awesome with us,” said Berning. “It makes the experience of farming great, also.”

He considers being part of his landlord’s family farm an honor, along with the opportunity to not only be their lessee, but their friend. It is not uncommon for Berning to drop in for a visit with his 90 year old landlord, a relationship he wouldn’t trade.

Berning applied for Leadership Sorghum as a way to make new connections and expand his knowledge of the sorghum industry. In light of the first Leadership Sorghum sessions, Berning says the best part of Leadership Sorghum is the people.

“The people are great, and so is the experience in and amongst itself. You’re doing things you’d never get to do, learning things you’d never get to learn,” he said. “There are some great people you get to know from all over the place that you probably wouldn’t get to meet any other time.”

He is looking forward to utilizing the connections he has made throughout Leadership Sorghum, as well as the industry knowledge he has gained from the program.

Despite the long hours, the challenges he faces in farming drive Berning forward.

 “It’s true - If you enjoy your job, you never work a day in your life.”

Equipment color: Green
Go-to tractor tunes: Typically the radio is off, or he is on the phone.
Favorite season on the farm: Harvest
Favorite part of farming: Freedom to do what you want to do, planting the seeds and watching them grow and the challenges. No year is the same.
Hobbies: Following kids to their events, shooting

Jon is a member of Leadership Sorghum Class IV, 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.