A Kansas Wheat producer has been selected for the Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow program. He is David Schemm, who has his farming operation in the Sharon Springs area of western Kansas. Schemm also is a member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.

The Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow program is sponsored by the National Association of Wheat Growers Foundation and the Monsanto Company. The program aims to develop Wheat grower leaders who are informed on national, state, and local issues, and who have the communications, presentation, and media skills needed to be proactive spokespersons for the Wheat industry.

Schemm's farming operation includes 4,800 acres of crop land and 1,500 acres of pasture. His farm produces wheat, corn, milo and sunflower, as well as having a cow-calf operation in addition to the grain production. He also operates a commercial spraying business.

Besides his service on the KAWG Board of Directors, Schemm is on the board of Unified School District 241, is a board member of the Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center, and has been a 4-H project leader for a numbers of years.

As he applied for the WILOT program, Schemm said, "Agriculture faces an increase in public awareness concerning environmental practices, while at the same time producers face slimmer profit margins. Wheat faces pressure from 'fad' diets and lost export markets." He stated, "Agriculture must continue a proactive stance with support of ethanol, bio-diesel, and biotechnology. The Wheat industry must make sure it is not left behind in these issues."

In his own operation, Schemm says he has taken several steps including converting his operation to no-till/minimum till methods and streamlined his entire operation in order to maintain and increase his profit margins.

Schemm will be traveling to St. Louis in early November for a week-long training session on leadership development, identification and discussion of key issues including biotechnology, and U.S. environmental ag-stewardship policies. Participants will also receive extensive training in coalition-building, dealing with the media and developing presentation skills, as well as learning more about lobbying skills and techniques.

Next March, the class will travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the NAWG board meetings and visit their state's congressional offices.

Schemm will be joining several other representatives from seven Wheat state organizations in the WILOT program for 2004. The other states represented in the WILOT program are Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

Brett Myers, executive vice president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, said, "It is significant that a large percentage of KAWG grower-leaders are alumni of the WILOT program." Myers also explained that following the completion of the program, Kansas participants are expected to use their skills in working with groups in their local communities and states to further a stronger public understanding of agriculture and food issues of importance to all Kansans.

In line with those aims, Schemm said, "I hope to continue to develop my public speaking and presentation skills with the WILOT program in order to increase my own communities' awareness of the need for wheat, agriculture and young leaders. I hope to use the WILOT program to increase my knowledge of the whole industry in order to effectively communicate our needs to the media and our representatives."

The Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow program began in 1989 and since then has been greatly broadened in its scope and is proud not only of its participants who have become leaders in state and national Wheat industry matters, but also of those participants who have become legislators and locally recognized environmental leaders and educators.

The Kansas Association of Wheat Growers is a grass-roots organization that represents Kansas Wheat producers under the common goal of maximizing members' profitability.

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