Who We Are


We are rural Kansas and agriculture and have been for decades.

In mid-1989, a group of twenty individuals representing virtually all segments of Kansas agriculture met to discuss the need and potential for an extensive educational program designed to build a leadership base for Kansas agriculture and its related industries. The first board meeting for the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program was held October 3, 1989, and KARL, Inc. was formed in 1990. The first class of 30 participants began their leadership development in 1991. Since then, over 330 participants have completed the program.

Since then, over 400 participants have completed the program keeping Kansas on the leading edge of providing leaders who not only influence our communities and our state, but the agriculture industry both here and abroad.

Since its inception, over $4.5 million has been raised and spent on this program from over 900 entities including individuals, farm, and civic organizations, businesses, foundations, and corporations. That money has been invested to put over 330 agricultural and rural leaders through 7,150 hours of training and experience in Kansas and Washington DC. Our leaders have taken their skills global, as well. Each class takes an intensive two-week international study. Our classes have studied in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, France, England, the People’s Republic of China, Argentina, Australia & New Zealand, Mexico & Costa Rica, Brazil, Ghana, India, Vietnam, Peru, South Africa, and Chile.

Class XIV is slated to visit Cuba in 2019. 

Leadership continues beyond KARL

KARL graduates are on every major commodity association board, several commissions and multiple boards, advisories and councils from the local through national level.

Our graduate pool has seen many state agricultural leaders rise to service:

  • President of the Kansas Farm Bureau
    • Steve Baccus
  • Kansas Livestock Association
    • Larry Jones
    • David Cross
    • Mark Smith
    • Mark Harms
  • Kansas Wheat Growers
    • John Thaemert
    • Jerry McReynolds
    • Kendall Hodgson
    • Gary Millershaski
  • Kansas Soybean Commission
    • Bob Haselwood
  • Kansas Dairy Commission
    • Dennis Metz
  • No-Till on the Plains Chair
    • 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.
    • Jerry McReynolds served as president in 2010-11.
  • Ron Suppes served as Chairman of the US Wheat Associates 2007-08.
  • Dana Peterson, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers
  • Gary Harshberger was appointed to the chairmanship of the Kansas Water Authority
  • Kansas Legislature service
    • Don Schroeder from Hesston
    • Susan Concannon from Beloit.
  • Holly Martin, Publisher of High Plains Journal
  • Jill Zimmerman, President of KARL