Ag Business Council Recognizes Young Leaders in Agribusiness


Member News

May 16, 2024, KANSAS CITY, MO.  The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City has selected 7 individuals who it will honor in 2024 as Young Leaders in Agribusiness.

“We are pleased to recognize these young people who have been nominated by their employers and have shown exemplary passion, leadership, and business acumen,” said Ron Seeber, chair, KC Ag Business Council. Seeber, who serves as president and CEO of Kansas Grain and Feed Association, Kansas Ag Retailers and Renew Kansas, pointed out these individuals represent the future, the next generation of executives who will lead the agribusiness sector.

Caitlin Baker is a Product Manager in Plant Nutrition and Animal Feed products for Compass Minerals.  She was raised on a ranch in Texas where she was involved in the day-to-day operation. She earned  both a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Agricultural Leadership and M.S. in Agricultural Communications. Caitlin interned at Rodeo Austin and after graduation held positions at Bartlett Grain and Land O'Lakes in Feed and Grain Merchandising before joining Compass Minerals. She and her husband started a cow-calf and hay operation in NW Missouri in 2019 which they continue to grow from the ground up. 

Janelle Commodore joined DFA in 2018 and has served in various marketing roles, including most recently as director of business development. In her current role as director of strategy and insights, she works across the Cooperative to drive DFA’s strategic planning process and ensure it’s a living component of the Cooperative’s culture. To do this, she collaborates with leaders throughout DFA to connect strategic priorities to existing business plans and performance goals. Janelle and her husband, Lucas, reside in Shawnee, KS with their son Calvin and dog Ruby. 

Haley Larson, Ph.D., is a teaching Assistant Professor of Animal Health at Kansas State University's Olathe campus. Dr. Larson teaches, conducts research, and advises graduate students in various programs related to animal health.  She has worked to create industry-partnered graduate programs to support education and research in the field of agriculture for the KC Metro region.  She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S and Ph.D. in Animal Science.  Prior to her role at K-State, she worked for Cargill Animal Nutrition and Health as a senior scientist at the Global Innovation Center in Elk River, MN.  In that role, she designed the company’s dual-flow continuous culture system – the first fully automated dual-flow system for cattle rumen simulation. She is now working actively to develop lab capabilities for K-State at the Olathe campus.  Outside of work, Dr. Larson enjoys spending time with her husband and four kids – which typically consists of digging in the garden or working on their commercial cattle operation in central KS. 

Nathan Laudan is the Director of Education at the American Royal Association where he manages all youth and adult education programs, scholarships, and educational outreach efforts on behalf of the organization. He also serves as Director for the American Royal Museum. Before this Nathan was a Program Manager for Agriculture Future of America and has spent time in recruiting, fundraising, and arguably his most unique job, as a fraternity consultant for his organization, Alpha Gamma Rho. He graduated from Kansas State University with degrees in food science and agricultural communications & journalism. Nathan currently lives in Overland Park, KS and actively volunteers his time as a member of his fraternity alumni board and Recruitment Coach at both local chapter and national organization levels. He also volunteers his time with Kansas FFA at local and state levels and at various events at his church, Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish. 

Jara Settles is General Counsel and Vice President of Risk Mitigation at the Livestock Marketing Association.  Jara grew up on a cow calf operation in northeast Nebraska and then attended Butler Community College and Kansas State University as a member of their livestock judging teams and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. After she graduated from Washburn University School of Law, she entered private practice at a large Kansas City-based firm. In her free time, Jara is actively involved as a volunteer and board member of the American Royal. She and her husband, Barrett Carlisle, own and operate Diamond C Livestock, which produces high-end club lambs and seedstock and remains involved with her family’s purebred Angus operation, Settles Cattle Company.

Julie Warner is a Senior PR and Content Specialist with AdFarm in Kansas City. She develops and implements public relations campaigns that drive results for a variety of agriculture clients, like CNH Parts & Service and the American Royal.  Julie earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural communications from Missouri State University. She and her husband, Nathan, operate their family farm in Archie, Missouri, where they have a registered Hereford and commercial cow/calf operation. She enjoys spending time at a livestock show, helping out in the hayfield and making memories with her tight-knit family.

Johnny Weidmaier is a Senior Plant Engineer at Bayer CropScience's Kansas City site, where he oversees the production of active ingredients for herbicides and fungicides. Johnny earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Kansas State University and is currently pursuing an MBA from Marquette University.  Outside of his corporate responsibilities, Johnny, alongside his brother, manages Weidmaier Farms, LLC, a thriving cow-calf operation in northwest Missouri. Their vision for the farm reflects Johnny's commitment to the future of agriculture, aiming to pass on a sustainable legacy to the next generation. Johnny lives in Kearney, MO with his wife Lexie and two daughters. 

The Council will recognize these young leaders at a reception in Kansas City on July 9.

About the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City

Members of the Agricultural Business Council include over 350 individuals associated with the food and agribusiness sector. Agribusiness continues to be one of the largest business sectors in the Kansas City region, accounting for 8 percent of the workforce and contributing 22 percent of the gross regional product. For further information:  Bob Petersen (816) 810-5000;

Media contact:
Bob Petersen