From buying her own market lambs to show at her county 4-H fair to testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, Annika Wiebers combines an affinity for agriculture with a mission to bridge the gap between production agriculture and folks like herself who did not grow up on the farm. Combined, these qualities make her an ideal first recipient of the David Radenberg Memorial Scholarship.
“Unlike many people in Kansas, I didn’t grow up with a background in production agriculture,” Wiebers said. “I had relatives who were farmers and ranchers, but I didn’t have any personal experience with agriculture until I was in high school and chose to expand my 4-H work to include livestock projects. This involvement opened my eyes to the need for communicating and educating people on the importance of agriculture.”
Wiebers got her earliest touches with production agriculture from relatives who were farmers and ranchers, but it wasn’t until she decided to buy some market lambs to show through 4-H that she had her first real-world experience as a livestock producer.
“The learning curve was incredibly steep, but I loved the experience and enjoyed taking on the responsibility,” Wiebers said. “Since then, I have grown increasingly more interested in agriculture both through my own experiences and those of my friends.”
Wiebers continued to pursue both livestock projects in addition to cultivating a natural skill set for communications. In 2018-2019, she earned the top prize in Kansas as the state 4-H winner in the communications project. Since then, she has put those skills to work advocating for agriculture, including speaking to the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture regarding the 2022 Farm Bill, as part of her experience at that year’s National 4-H Conference. Today, Wiebers is a sophomore at Kansas State University, pursuing a degree in agricultural communications, furthering her goals of connecting consumers and farmers.
“By pursuing a degree in agricultural communications, I am combining my communication skills with my growing affinity for agriculture,” Wiebers said. “As someone who wasn’t born into the industry but instead chose to be involved, I would also be a valuable advocate highlighting the value of agriculture and helping others have this opportunity for discovery.”
One can only imagine the proud chuckles of David Radenberg had he the chance to meet Wiebers in person. Radenberg, a lifelong wheat farmer in Claflin and long-time Kansas Wheat Commissioner, could often be spotted peaking over the cubicles or sitting laid back in an office to chat with staff. Radenberg passed in 2021 after a lengthy battle with cancer, but the scholarship in his name is a testament to continuing his support of the future of Kansas agriculture.
This year is the first offering of the David Radenberg Memorial Scholarship, which awards one $1,000 scholarship to a current undergraduate or graduate student from Kansas who is pursuing a career in the field of agriculture.
Radenberg represented central Kansas on the Kansas Wheat Commission from April 2011 to March 2020, including serving as chairman from August 2018 to May 2019. Radenberg was also a founding board member of the Kansas Wheat Commission Research Foundation.
During his tenure as a commissioner, he supported wheat research and international marketing efforts, including attending the 31st annual Latin American Millers Conference in Lima, Peru, in 2013. At the time, he expressed how he enjoyed sharing with millers, bakers and merchandisers about the research investments Kansas farmers are making to provide a better-quality product.
The selection of Wiebers - as a communications major - as the scholarship recipient furthers Radenberg’s legacy as an advocate for sharing the story of Kansas agriculture with others.
“My background gives me a strong awareness of how much people simply don’t know about where their food comes from and the importance of agriculture in our society,” Wiebers said. “I now have a better understanding of what it’s like to be on both ends of the production agriculture spectrum and believe I will be valuable in bridging the gap between what can seem like two completely different worlds.”
Learn more about the David Radenberg Memorial Scholarship at https://kswheat.com/growers/scholarships/david-radenberg-memorial-scholarship.
Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat