During the Old West Fest KARL Benefit in Dodge City, charter board members (left to right) Jack Lindquist, Ray Purdy and Florence Metcalf were recognized for 25 years of directional, promotional and financial support to the non profit educational organization Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Inc.
In addition to that milestone achievement, on July 20, 2014, KARL Inc exceeded $5 Million in lifetime contributions from 1,600 donors over 25 years.
25 years of Success – KARL is Kansas Leadership Based and Global in Reach
By Jack Lindquist, Director
KARL Graduate Program
The Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program roots run deep in past and present day leadership, from the Statehouse to nations around the globe. KARL formation began in the summer of 1989 with a team of grassroots volunteers representing standing agricultural and rural Kansas leaders. The team was soon charged with establishing the non profit corporation, KARL, Inc.
A series of 12 seminars was developed to shape emerging leaders into service oriented, informed and collaborative leaders willing to make life and livelihood better for all Kansan’s. The seminars provide incremental steps of experiential learning approaches that start with leadership principles, local decision making, strategic thinking and collaboration techniques and reach the capstone of international trade.
Kansas leading industry, agriculture, is in the forefront of case study within the KARL curriculum but other aspects of Kansas including socio economic implications are also the backbone of the two year curriculum. Military affairs even have a place in the educational experiences including leadership level briefings at Ft Riley and deployment simulations and refueling flight experiences at McConnell AFB. Advanced interactive learning exchanges at the Command and General Staff College for Combined Services at Ft Leavenworth are the latest advanced learning opportunities. National and international study tours are the pinnacles of each of the two-year seminar series. Through 12 class offerings, the objectives and content have changed considerably to keep up with trends and to remain cutting edge.
Over the past 25 years and representing 102 Kansas Counties, the 390 participants of the KARL Program have visited the diplomats for trade in 13 foreign embassies in Washington DC. In 1996 KARL hosted a (future) ambassador of China in class member homes during WTO status debate. At the time the Diplomat was agricultural attaché for the People’s Republic of China. Our 12 classes that completed the International Study Tour component of our program have had the opportunity to converse with minsters of agriculture and/or economics from 20 Nations. The international diplomacy pinnacle was the opportunity to be guests of former President Rodriguez in Costa Rica during the class tour to that Central American country.
KARL Inc. recently formally expanded programming to include life-long learning experiences for alumni of the two-year program. The pay-as-you-go training and travel experiences for the KARL Graduate Program do not draw on contributed funds intended for investment in the two-year KARL Program. Not only do they pay their own way for continued education, as a body, KARL graduates contributed personal funds totaling 1/5th of the total current class budget last year ($150,000). The reinvestment is their way to pay-it-forward for a new generation of participants.
KARL Graduates investment in bettering the industry and state doesn’t stop there. They serve on every major commodity association board, several commissions and multiple boards, advisories and councils from the local through national level. The KARL graduate pool has surfaced many state agricultural leaders in the quest to serve including: President of the Kansas Farm Bureau (Steve Baccus and current President Rich Felts); Kansas Livestock Association, (Larry Jones, David Cross, Mark Smith, Mark Harms and Jaret Moyer); Kansas Wheat Growers (John Thaemert, Jerry McReynolds, Kendall Hodgson & Gary Millershaski); Kansas Soybean Commission, Bob Haselwood (now a national board president); Kansas Dairy Commissioner Dennis Metz; and No-Till on the Plains Chairs (Doug Palen & Josh Lloyd). The first national president’s office of a commodity organization was earned by Class I graduate John Thaemert for the National Association of Wheat Growers and Jerry McReynolds served as president in 2010-11. Ron Suppes served as Chairman of the US Wheat Associates 2007-08. Gary Harshberger was appointed to the chairmanship of the Kansas Water Authority in 2011 and most recently, Dan Atkisson, Class XI graduate, was selected to serve on the National Grain Sorghum Producers board of directors. The first graduate to serve in the Kansas legislature was Class I alumnus Don Schroeder from Hesston; the second was Class IX graduate Susan Concannon from Beloit. Ken Rahjes, Class III from Agra now makes the third graduate elected to the Kansas House.
Although laudable, the previously mentioned experiences and service roles can’t overshadow the value of scores of alumni learning about local through international issues that impact all Kansans. All alumni step forward into active duty service roles – grassroots leadership posts that include county and city commission seats, school and hospital boards, extension councils and other human service roles.
For 25 years the non-profit educational organization, KARL, Inc. has humbly taken a noble concept and built it into a successful program with global recognition and admiration. The achievements have only been possible due to the partnership with more than sixteen-hundred donors willing to invest in KARL – $5.5 million to date. Candidates are selected from a competitive application and interview process and pay tuition set at one fifth of the total budget for each class of 30 members. The other 4/5’s of each class budget comes from personal, business, foundation and corporate contributions. Since it’s inception, no tax derived funding has been requested or accepted to fund the 501c3 charitable educational corporation.
Together we will continue to provide a foundation of new servant leaders willing to collaborate for a better future for Kansas. For more information about participating in or contributing to the KARL Program, visit the website at: www.karlprogram.com/. Applications for Class XIV (2017-2019) will be available after September 1 with April 15, 2017 as the closing date. Applicants are advised to apply early for the greatest exposure.
Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership
KARL Graduate Program
A conduit for life long learning and continuous engagement.