AEC alum named new executive director of United Sorghum Checkoff Program
By: Norman Martin
Norma Ritz Johnson, a 1990 graduate of Texas Tech University's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, has been selected as the new executive director of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program. She steps into her new post on Tuesday (Jan. 12).
The Lubbock-based sorghum checkoff program is a producer-funded organization dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education.
"This is an amazing opportunity, and I very much look forward to stepping into this position at the Sorghum Checkoff to help build on its great foundation of success," Johnson said.
In the decades since graduating, Johnson has maintained close ties with Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She has served as a two-term member of CASNR's Advisory Board, starting in 2015. In addition, she recently was the host of a newly-developed CASNR young alumni connection webinar lecture series and professional development program for alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years.
As a Texas Tech student, Johnson was a member of CASNR's Student Agricultural Council, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Agronomy Club, and Collegiate FFA, among other clubs and organizations. In addition, there is a family tie to CASNR with her brother, Rudy Ritz, serving as an associate professor with Tech's Department of Agricultural Education and Communications.
"My entire career has led me to this role returning to the sorghum industry, and I'm eager to roll my sleeves up and get to work helping to bring value to the organization and sorghum producers as we accelerate this important industry's growth nationally and globally," Johnson said.
Prior to taking her new position, Johnson was Executive Vice President for the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, a group that represents almost 1,700 businesses and over 79,000 employees on the South Plains where she led strategic initiatives and staff communications with an emphasis on transportation, agriculture and health care.
Meanwhile, Sorghum Checkoff Program leaders are welcoming their new executive director. "Johnson brings strong organizational management with a background in agriculture and sorghum," said Sorghum Checkoff CEO Tim Lust.
Sorghum Checkoff Chairman Kent Martin, a sorghum farmer from Alva, Oklahoma added, "We believe her vast experience and past sorghum industry relationships will be beneficial in furthering the program priorities of the checkoff to increase the value of sorghum and improve profitability for our growers."
CONTACT: Scott Burris, Chair, Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, Texas Tech University, at (806) 742-2816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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