Outstanding Service to the Sorghum Industry

Two deserving and instrumental players in the sorghum industry were recently honored by National Sorghum Producers for their contributions. Despite their rich past involvement, both are looking forward to their future in sorghum.

Written by: Natalie Allcorn

During the Sorghum Improvement Conference of North America on Jan. 30 in St. Louis, Missouri, National Sorghum Producers recognized two recipients for Outstanding Service to the Sorghum Industry. The 2018 awardees, Bill Kubecka and William Rooney, Ph.D., exemplify the dedication and service to the sorghum industry this award represents.

Bill Kubecka, a sorghum producer from Palacios, Texas, the first non-researcher to receive this award, has worked tirelessly on both the National Sorghum Producers and United Sorghum Checkoff Program board of directors as well as the U.S. Grains Council board, representing the interests of sorghum producers.

“My time with sorghum has been similar to a lifetime of learning a multitude of knowledge, relationships and hard work,” Kubecka said, who volunteered with the sorghum industry for more than 20 years.

Kubecka led by example and set high standards for fellow board members and staff.

“You cannot complain if you are not willing to get involved and willing to work hard toward a better outcome and change,” he said.

Kubecka was instrumental in policy changes for the sorghum industry in the 2002 Farm Bill. He traveled to Washington, D.C., hundreds of times on behalf of the sorghum industry during tight financial times for the association and rarely ever turned in an expense.

“I cherished getting to meet people from many areas of the world,” said Kubecka. “In the big scheme, we are all not that different. We grow a good product, supply the industry’s need and receive a respectable compensation.”

His dedication, sacrifice and service to the sorghum industry is well-documented and highly valued. Kubecka expressed his gratitude for the award.

“This award was a huge honor for the times of being deeply involved in the sorghum industry and for the things accomplished for sorghum producers,” he said.

NSP is honored to recognize Kubecka as the first producer award recipient and feels his leadership is symbolic of the importance producers have influencing policy and building relationships in our industry and across the world.

Dr. Bill Rooney is a Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. For the past 23 years, Dr. Rooney has devoted his career to sorghum, specializing in sorghum breeding and genetics.

Much of his research as a professor centers on sorghum enhancement, specifically focusing on the productivity and profitability of sorghum as a grain, forage and bioenergy crop. His research has directly led to innovation in the sorghum industry, and Dr. Rooney said he does sorghum research to provide information that someone else is able to utilize for future improvement.

Dr. Rooney is responsible for the mentoring and training of young, high-quality breeders, many of whom have gone on to have impactful careers in the sorghum industry. Dr. Rooney is a perfect example of the kind of innovation and leadership the sorghum industry is striving for. Dr. Rooney plans to continue to push his research team toward expansions that effectively improve the sorghum industry.

“We appreciate the sorghum producers group recognizing our efforts,” Dr. Rooney said. “It’s been a fun crop, and I very much enjoy working in a crop where there are a lot of things to do.”

Since 1961, National Sorghum Producers has recognized exemplary service through the Outstanding Service to the Sorghum Industry award. This award was first presented in 1961. Recipients include, among others, the forefathers of the modern hybrid sorghum industry. As of January 30, 2018, 59 individuals have received this award. With great dedication, recipients of this award have gone over and above in their efforts to improve sorghum to benefit sorghum growers.

It is with great pride that the National Sorghum Producers recognizes these two outstanding individuals for their contribution to the sorghum industry. Their efforts to further the sorghum industry are greatly appreciated by all.