Leadership Sorghum provides producers with opportunities

A board of directors is only as strong as its leaders. The United Sorghum Checkoff program is working to create strong leaders through its Leadership Sorghum program.

United Sorghum Checkoff Program Executive Director Florentino Lopez said the program is cultivating a base of leadership for the sorghum industry.

“It was created to help create those advocates that could better articulate producer desires to not only preserve their way of life but also safeguard the basic necessities of life, that being mainly sustenance,” Lopez said.

He believes in the importance of creating these new leaders through the program, and he hopes graduates can have the background and training when important discussions are needed.

“We know that having those discussions, not only with the general public but also as an industry is important,” Lopez said. “Hopefully to further the needs of farmers.”

Tim Lust, CEO of USCP, said Leadership Sorghum just graduated its third class and has had 44 farmers go through the program so far.

“I think that’s a very positive thing for us to be able to have the leadership going forward,” he said.

He’s seen graduates move into leadership roles at the state and national levels already.

“That’s certainly exciting to me to be able to see that,” Lust said. “When you bring up a topic that’s complex, to see those board members step up and have that education and experience is so valuable.”

Graduates who serve on the Sorghum Checkoff board can help make future decisions with producers’ money, and by going through the program they’ll have the education they need to do so.

Applications for Leadership Sorghum Class IV are currently open. Eligible applicants must be farmers actively engaged in sorghum production in the United States. Fifteen growers will be accepted into the program’s fourth class.

During the 15-month leadership program, class members are exposed to various aspects of the sorghum industry in addition to personal development and networking opportunities. Class members will participate in both hands-on and classroom-style learning experiences to gain an understanding of how sorghum moves through the value chain, how checkoffs and stakeholder organizations interact on behalf of the industry and what the future holds for sorghum.

“It is so fulfilling to see our class members grow, learn and experience new things,” said Shelee Padgett, Leadership Sorghum program director, in a news release. “Our goal is to equip them to be leaders and advocates for sorghum, taking their knowledge back to their communities and furthering the industry by becoming involved locally, in their state and nationally.”

Full consideration will be given to all applicants, regardless of age, gender, race or occupation. Every effort will be made to select a class, based on the applicant pool, that is representative of the entire sorghum industry, its diversity and rural community interests.

Applications for the program are available at www.LeadSorghum.com and are due by 5 p.m. March 16. Following the application deadline, all applications and references will be reviewed by a selection committee. Finalists may be contacted via phone to arrange an interview. Class members and alternates will be notified of acceptance by May 1. More information on the class schedule and program criteria can be found at www.LeadSorghum.com.

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].