After 38 years of service to Nebraska and the sorghum industry, Barb Kliment is retiring from her position as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board. Nate Blum will step in as the new executive director.
It doesn’t feel like 38 years have elapsed. That’s for sure,” Barb Kliment said, reflecting on her time spent as the Executive Director for the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board.
What started as a part-time position in 1981 turned into a lifelong career. She was the first and only person to sit at the helm of the Nebraska sorghum board before retiring earlier this year.
“There have been challenges and stressful days and things like that,” she said. “The fact of the matter is, they say, ‘If you have the job you love, you don’t work a day in your life.’ Well, I have loved my job. I have loved the people I work with. I love the places I’ve been able to go and the things I’ve been able to see.”
One of Kliment’s most memorable accomplishments came at the beginning of her career when she helped establish the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board. She helped the new board adopt bylaws, establish marketing activities and launch research programs.
“Helping the board learn to walk before they could run took a lot of time and a lot of effort to get done,” she said, “but it was a very rewarding experience.”
Over the years, Kliment has had the opportunity to travel across the globe and host trade missions in Nebraska. The missions helped educate grain buyers and people within the livestock and poultry industries about sorghum in the U.S.
“It was all about developing those relationships, marketing, developing trust and making certain they understand that we’re a reliable supplier of a high-quality product,” she said. “That was our goal.”
Promoting sorghum and agriculture in all its capacities was always a priority for Kliment. She made special efforts to ensure others were informed whether it was farm bill policies or the benefits of sorghum as a food ingredient.
“There should be plenty of room for all crops in agriculture,” Kliment said. “It’s diversity that makes agriculture what it is, and there’s a place for sorghum within that very diverse environment.”
One of Kliment’s lasting legacies within the sorghum industry will be her contributions to sorghum recipe development and consumer food promotion. Over the years, Kliment created multiple crowd-pleasing recipes ranging from cookies to her personal favorite quiches. She took her passion of cooking and applied it in her work, setting a foundation for sorghum use in the kitchen.
“[Cooking with sorghum] takes a little bit of imagination, and let me tell you my kitchen is kind of like my laboratory,” Kliment said. “My husband can attest to the fact that not everything has been a success, but we have fun experimenting.”
As her time leading Nebraska Sorghum comes to an end, Kliment looks forward to spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren. Team Sorghum thanks Barb for her leadership and commitment to Nebraska sorghum farmers.
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine as a feature article.
Nate Blum is the new executive director of Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board. He grew up on his family farm in York County, Nebraska, and recently served as the Director of Ag and Outreach for Congressman Jeff Fortenberry in Nebraska’s First Congressional District before taking over the family operation. His desires to become more directly involved with producers led him to Nebraska Sorghum. “I am honored to succeed Barb in this role I am delighted to serve Nebraska’s sorghum producers.” Blum can be reached at email@example.com or 402-802-1850.