National Sorghum Producers is proud to announce Brad Younker and Chiree Fields as the latest additions to the team facilitating the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant pilot project NSP was awarded last fall.
Younker will spearhead conservation producer relations. As Conservation Implementation Director, Brad brings a wealth of experience and expertise to assist sorghum producers in safeguarding natural resources, including soil, water, air and habitat.
Brad’s qualifications speak for themselves. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from Kansas State University with a secondary major in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. As a Licensed Professional Engineer in Kansas, he possesses the skills and knowledge honed during his 15-year tenure as an agricultural engineer with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Hailing from a 4th generation family farm in west central Kansas, Brad’s family is rooted in the production of sorghum, wheat, corn and soybeans.
Outside of his professional commitments, Brad is a dedicated family man. He shares his life’s journey with his wife, Jessica, and their three young children—Carley (6), Camryn (4) and Clayton (2). Family values are at the core of his unwavering commitment to fostering a sustainable future.
When time permits, Brad can be found attending his children’s activities, cheering on K-State athletics, or farming alongside his father and brother. His passion for working with producers in the Sorghum Belt on conservation goals that enhance productivity and sustainability is reflected in his approach to his new role.
Brad Younker’s addition to the NSP Climate Smart Commodities Grant Project team reinforces the organization’s commitment to advancing sustainable practices within the sorghum industry. His expertise, dedication and deep-rooted connection to agriculture make him an invaluable asset to the project and the producers he will serve.
Fields takes on the role of Operations and Implementation Director for the Climate-Smart Commodities grant. Chiree’s journey to this position has been marked by a deep-rooted passion for agriculture, extensive experience in the industry and a strong connection to her farming heritage.
Fields hails from eastern New Mexico where she spent her formative years on a small family farm nurturing her love for the land through involvement in 4-H and FFA. After high school, Chiree pursued her academic and professional aspirations, enrolling at Texas Tech University to study Agricultural Communications.
Over the past 19 and a half years, Fields has carved a career in West Texas’s agriculture sector, which began in the retail sector, gaining valuable insights into the chemical, fertilizer and seed businesses. This initial exposure laid the foundation for her growth within the industry. For the last 17 years, Chiree has been a driving force in the cotton seed business, progressing from Office Manager to General Manager and ultimately to the Chief Operating Officer role across multiple affiliated businesses.
Chiree currently resides in Idalou, Texas, where she and her husband Dink are raising twin boys. When not working or nurturing her family, she finds immense joy in supporting her children’s various sporting events. In her spare time, Chiree Fields has a few favorite activities that help her relax and unwind. She loves spending time on her patio and watching her favorite college football teams compete. She also enjoys cooking and engaging in various craft projects with her children.
Upon her appointment as operations director for the Climate-Smart Commodities grant at NSP, Fields expressed her excitement, saying, “I am excited to be able to combine my love of people and passion for agriculture here at Team Sorghum!”
Her wealth of experience and personal commitment to agriculture make her a valuable asset to the NSP, and her vision for sustainable and climate-smart commodities aligns perfectly with the organization’s goals.
For more information about the climate-smart grant visit SorghumGrowers.com/climatesmart.
The National Sorghum Producers board of directors re-elected officers and a new director at its annual board and budget meeting in August. Craig Meeker of Wellington, Kansas, will serve a second term as chair, Amy France of Scott City, Kansas, will continue to serve as vice chair and Kody Carson of Olton, Texas, retains his position as past chair.
The NSP board of directors elected one new member—Scott Frazier from Chapman Ranch, Texas, where he produces sorghum, cotton, corn and cattle. Marc Adams with CoBank was also re-elected to the board. Frazier and Adams will serve a three-year term that began Oct. 1. The NSP board also recognized one leader who ended his term as director on Sept. 30—Jay Wilder of Snook, Texas.
New directors and officers took their respective positions on the NSP board Oct. 1. View NSP’s entire leadership team at SorghumGrowers.com/leadership.
Shelee Padgett, who currently serves as the Director of Emerging Markets & Grower Leader Development for the Sorghum Checkoff, celebrated her 15-year work anniversary with Team Sorghum in October.
Shelee began her career with sorghum as a Field Representative for the National Sorghum Producers. Over time, her passion and expertise led her to become a Regional Director for both NSP and the Sorghum Checkoff when it was established in 2008. One of her significant achievements was her instrumental role in launching the Leadership Sorghum program in 2012.
Her involvement in the AgriInstitute-Indiana Agriculture Leadership Program, where she was part of Class 13 in 2008, played a crucial role in shaping the Leadership Sorghum Program–an initiative that has been pivotal in developing future leaders for the sorghum industry.
When asked about her favorite aspect of working with sorghum, Shelee’s response was unequivocal: “Oh, hands down, the farmers.” Shelee Padgett also finds pride in the fact that the sorghum industry is often underestimated, yet it consistently exceeds expectations. She relishes the opportunity to be the underdog, continually proving that sorghum is a resilient and thriving crop.
Her most memorable career moment was a trip to China in 2015 when the export market was getting off the ground and gaining traction. She and Texas Sorghum Executive Director Wayne Cleveland embarked on a roadshow to open up the Chinese market. What began as a modest effort turned into a resounding success with hundreds of end users attending each stop on their journey–a testament to the global potential of U.S. sorghum and the dedication of individuals like Padgett and our partners.
Shelee’s journey in the sorghum industry exemplifies leadership, and her contributions continue to shape and advance the sorghum industry, ensuring a prosperous future for sorghum farmers and advocates alike. Help us congratulate Shelee for 15 years of service to the sorghum industry.
National Sorghum Producers is pleased to announce T&O Farms will sponsor the 2024 Sorghum PAC Series.
“T&O Farms has been a long-standing supporter of the sorghum industry, and we are excited to have its sponsorship of the 2024 Sorghum PAC Series,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said. “Collectively, we look forward to bringing forward another year of exciting fundraising opportunities that unite sorghum farmers around advocacy and advancing the legislative and regulatory interests of this industry that will continue to serve their farms in the future.”
The 2024 Sorghum PAC Series, sponsored by T&O Farms, will kick off with the annual Sorghum PAC Casino Night & Auction at the conclusion of the 2024 Sorghum Yield Contest Gala to be held March 1 in conjunction with Commodity Classic in Houston, Texas. This event will be held concurrently with the annual online auction hosted by BigIron Auctions and followed by the 4th Annual Sorghum PAC Golf Tournament, scheduled April 27, 2024, returning to the Mariah Hills Golf Course in Dodge City, Kansas.
“We are thrilled to welcome our new sponsor, T&O Farms, and seize the opportunity to further elevate and enhance our Sorghum PAC Series,” said NSP Industry Relations Director Jamaca Battin. “T&O Farms has been an invaluable collaborator, and I eagerly anticipate working together as we chart the course for our 2024 series.”
More information and updates about the 2024 Sorghum PAC Series can be found at SorghumGrowers.com/sorghum-pac.
This story originally appeared in the Fall 2023 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine.