Casten Fellows

Read about the first cohort's international experience.


The Casten Fellows program was developed to honor the life of Kansas Farm Bureau staffer Jill Casten-Downing and continue her rich legacy. Jill’s love for Kansas, agriculture, leadership development and international travel forms the foundation for the program. Ideal participants demonstrate a commitment to intentional life-long growth and active engagement in Kansas Farm Bureau. The Casten Fellows program is focused on developing individuals who can engage at the highest levels to enact change through meaningful relationships, innovation in ideas and processes, and effective leadership. The program is offered every other year and will:

  • Encourage thought and innovation around agriculture and rural communities
  • Expose individuals to new philosophies, systems and experiences in agriculture
  • Challenge participants to evaluate and, possibly, enlarge their perspectives and worldview
  • Enhance leadership skills and styles
  • Expand individuals’ networks

Share this opportunity with others by using this program flyer.

The program illuminated the interconnectedness of agriculture globally, highlighting diverse approaches, challenges, and opportunities across different regions. This broader perspective enriched my understanding of the industry’s future, including its impact on Kansas. It emphasized the need for collaboration and shared learning to navigate future challenges and capitalize on emerging trends.

- Myndi Krafft, Cohort 1 (Phillips County)


  • Applicants shall be voting members in good standing with their county Farm Bureau.
  • Applicants shall have significant prior leadership development experience (e.g. Leadership KFB, KARL, Leadership Kansas, etc.).
  • Applicants shall complete an application form and video interview and be willing to meet all time commitments associated with the program, listed in the program overview (see below).

Casten Fellows provided an opportunity to connect with other agricultural leaders in our state and on the other side of the world. Our international experience was a case study in cultural differences and systems change that broadened my understanding of issues facing our industry. I am better equipped to anticipate and adapt to challenges that our operation and community will face in the future.

- Jackie Mundt, Cohort 1 (Pratt County)


Applications must be submitted through the online form by August 15, 2024.

Review the application requirements and questions prior to applying here.

Click here to apply online

Casten Fellows has really solidified in my idea that all of us in rural Kansas face similar issues. We have to come about them in different ways, but bringing everyone to a single table, regardless of your background to talk through those issues, the pros, the cons, the benefits to the communities, the way that we could impact everyone really plays a beneficial part in how we address these problems going forward in the future.

- Kyler Langvardt, Cohort 2 (Geary County)

Selection Process

  • A review panel will select finalists based upon applications submitted by August 15.
  • Finalists will be contacted for an interview, via video-based technology.
  • Up to ten selected candidates will be notified and named as program participants no later than mid- October.

Program Fees

This program is funded through a combination of funds from the Jill Casten-Downing memorial fund in the Kansas Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, annual KFB budget dollars, partner support and participant fees. If selected, the individual will be responsible for a $2,500 participant fee, which can be derived from personal finances, support from the individual’s county Farm Bureau and/or other local supporters. Fees must be paid as follows:

  • $500 deposit due by November 1
  • $2,000 balance due by May 1

The Casten Fellows program has brought together leaders from across the state of Kansas. And coming to East Africa we were able to meet with folks who were change leaders and community oriented in their own part of the world. It was really motivating to see the work they were doing. I think all of us are going home knowing the impact we have in agriculture, but also the role we play in the success of our rural communities.

- Shanda Mattix, Cohort 2 (Thomas County)

Program Overview

2024-2025 Dates Session Location/Time*

December 9, 2:00 p.m. –

December 10, 4:00 p.m. (CST)

Meet your cohort, share your story and discover what the next year has in store.

Manhattan (KFB Annual Meeting)

Pre-Work: 8 Hours 

In-Person: 1.5 Days

January 7, 8:00-9:30 a.m.

January 23, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (CST)

Leadership & Innovation
Everyone has the capacity for creativity and leadership. Learn about your strengths and how to leverage them to lead agriculture into the future.

Individual Work (~10 Hours)

2 Zoom Meeting (3 Hours)

February 4, 8:00-9:30 a.m.

February 20, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (CST)

Leading Change
Discover the ways systems function and the opportunities and methods to disrupt them for positive and lasting change in agriculture and rural communities.

Individual Work (~10 Hours)

2 Zoom Meeting (3 Hours)

March 4, 8:00-9:30 a.m.

March 14, 5:30 p.m. –

March 16, 2:00 p.m. (CST)

Understanding Bias
Leading and engaging effectively requires taking intentional steps to understand and relate to others’ lives and perspectives. Confront the conscious and unconscious biases holding you back.

Individual Work (~7 Hours)

Zoom Meeting (1.5 Hours)

In-Person (2 Days)

April 8, 8:00-9:30 a.m.

April 22, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (CST)

Cultural Intelligence
Culture informs the way we live our lives, from daily routines to our worldview. Learn to be aware and curious about cultural differences, show respect for others, and, ultimately, find common ground.

Individual Work (~5 Hours)

2 Zoom Meeting (3 Hours)

May 6, 8:00-9:30 a.m.

June 12, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (CST)

International Government & Agriculture Systems
Learn about the basic structures, regulations, systems and philosophies that guide agriculture in the country or region of our travels.

Individual Work (~3 Hours)

2 Zoom Meeting (3 Hours)

July 15, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (CST)

Pre-Travel Briefing
Ensure you’re ready to go with final preparation information, tips for packing, a language crash course and more.

Individual Work (~3 Hours)

1 Zoom Meeting (1.5 Hours)

August 2-15 

(tentatively based on flight schedules)

International Experience
See agriculture, heritage and the daily lives of people from another part of the world first-hand as we visit farms, meet locals, go sightseeing, experience traditional culture and explore a different country or region.

To be announced with cohort selection information.


December 2, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (CST)

Program Impact & Leadership Legacy
Reflect on your time abroad, share your experience with others and consider the long-term impact this program will have on your future as a leader in Farm Bureau and your community.

Individual Work (10-15 Hours)

3 Community Presentations 

1 Zoom Meeting (1.5 Hours)

Zoom One-on-One Interview (up to 1 Hour)

December 6-7

Share insights from the program with KFB members, celebrate your accomplishments and enjoy a final time together with your cohort.

Manhattan (KFB Annual Meeting)

*Most sessions will require pre-meeting assignments that include reading, watching videos, worksheets and assessments and/or online interaction. The time required will vary each month and is approximated in the chart above. Attendance with active engagement is required at all sessions to be eligible for international travel.


Contact Edie Doane at or 785-587-6102 for questions about the program.