MANHATTAN, Kan. — Twenty-six agriculture and community leaders will complete a two-year commitment as Class XIV of Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Inc. Graduation ceremonies will be held April 6 at Liquid Art Winery and Estate located in the Flint Hills near Manhattan. The inaugural KARL Class I will host the new graduates at the celebration.

“Each of these individuals is to be applauded for their dedication and hard work these past two years,” said Jill Zimmerman, KARL president.

Zimmerman added that graduates who complete the program are equipped with the knowledge and understanding to become leaders professionally and in their communities.

“Graduates of the program are a network of people who have gone on to serve in legislative bodies, farm and commodity organizations, agribusiness, and their local communities, which is vital for the future of Kansas,” Zimmerman said.

Participants of the program engage in a series of seminars throughout the state, in Washington, D.C., and through an international study tour. KARL Class XIV recently returned from Cuba.

The KARL program got its start when in mid-1989, a group of individuals representing various segments of Kansas agriculture met to discuss the need and potential for an extensive educational program designed to build a leadership base for the state’s agriculture and related industries. The first class of 30 participants began leadership development training in 1991. Since then, more than 400 participants have completed the program.

KARL Class XIV graduates:

Amanda Ahrens, Salina; Daniel Anderes, Junction City; Tyson Anderson, Marysville; Melissa Bergkamp, Kingman; Rob Boss, Bennington; Justin Diehm, Greeley; Brian Eilert, Beloit; Simone Elder, Leoti; Jennifer Goering, Galva;

Jancey Hall, Manhattan; Patrice Herrman, Cherokee, Okla. (formerly Dodge City); Lucy Hesse, Wichita; Jordan Hildebrand, Manhattan; Gimmie Jo Jansonius, Prairie View; Kellen Liebsch, Westmoreland; Sarah Molzahn, Agra; Lynn Moore, Pittsburg;

Jared Petersilie, LaCrosse; Kurt Schwarz, La Cygne; Brian Sieker, Chase; Stephanie Symns, Atchison; Scott Thellman, Lawrence; Zach Townsend, Altamont; Ross Weber, Cawker City; Matt Weeks, Olathe; Jamie Wetig, Ashland.

Supporters and program alumni are encouraged to attend the graduation event emceed by Eric Atkinson of the radio program, “Agriculture Today.” Keynote speaker is Becky Fouard, Elanco Animal Health. Fouard, a Paola native and K-State graduate, has led the global marketing efforts at Elanco for a new product line of direct-fed microbials for Asia and Latin America, and recently returned to the U.S. as a marketing consultant.

A reception featuring the K-State Swingin’ Spurs, an elite country and swing dance team, will begin at 5 p.m., with dinner served at 6 p.m. Reservations can be made through the KARL office by calling 785-532-6300 or email

To apply for KARL Class XV, an online application and program participation details can be found at Individual nominations can be sent to

The KARL program is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to developing leaders for agriculture, business and rural communities, and is a member of the International Association of Programs for Agricultural Leaders (IAPAL), represented in 40 states and multiple countries. For more information about KARL, call Jill Zimmerman at 785-532- 6300, email or visit the KARL website at