Sawyer Fam 14-5

Derek and Katie Sawyer are the fourth generation to own and operate the family farm in McPherson County, Kan. The couple has grown the farm to include additional acres and cattle facilities and pasture ground.

Derek manages the daily operations as well as the bookkeeping and purchasing. His father continues to work on the farm, providing his insight, expertise and elbow grease.

Katie works full-time off the farm but provides support when she can in the form of food and advocacy. She writes for several agriculture publications and is a spokesperson for CommonGround Kansas and the Kansas Beef Council Team Beef.

In April 2013, Derek and Katie welcomed son, Evan. Before walking and crawling, Evan was helping with feedings and harvest. In January 2016, son Owen was born.

The Sawyers are involved with the Farm Bureau organization at the county, state and federal level with Derek currently participating in a national-level, professional development program designed to help agriculture leaders prepare for leadership and advocacy positions. He also works at the state level as part of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Advisory Board and the Governor’s 50 Year Water Task Force.


Derek Sawyer Farm Bureau Leadership Portfolio

Leadership Philosophy  |  March 2016

 “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” –Jack Welch

Who I Am

  • I am a deliberate decision maker- measuring the pros and cons and evaluating the consequences carefully.
  • I am very adaptive– trying to find the best possible outcome as situations change. While I look towards long-term goals and dreams, often my path there takes many winds and turns.
  • My competitive nature provides the drive for my actions. I want to be successful and I want my actions to make a difference. I understand winning is not everything, but I often use failure as motivation to become better.
  • I strive to maintain consistency and fairness in my relationships. I focus on how decisions and policy will affect everyone involved. I desire to see both sides of an issue- sometimes to the point of indecision.

What I Believe

  • I believe in old-time values– honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, respect. I believe a leader should possess these pillars and I strive to surround myself with these people.
  • I believe in being opportunistic. Quite often, taking advantage of an opportunity (even though it is a different direction than planned) is more effective than trying to blaze a trail. This requires patience and trust that you are prepared for any situation that may arise.
  • I believe in being accountable– Even the best leaders make mistakes. Standing up, accepting the consequences, and making the best from any mistake leads to a great leader.
  • I believe in availability over ability. The willingness to take on any task makes a person vital to an organization. Talent can only get a person so far, especially if they lack the passion for completing the task. I believe in trying to play any role where I can find passion do the job.
  • I believe in humility. A leader should make others feel valued for the jobs they do. For me, this comes much easier towards the people I work with than towards the people I have closest to me.

 “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton 

Things I Value

  • I value relationships– Family, Friends, and Spiritual. A leader who cannot put trust in other people are not trustworthy themselves. I know surrounding myself with good people who care about me and I can rely on is much more important than any skills I may possess.
  • I value the wisdom gained from being through a past experience. Whether the knowledge is gained myself or gleaned from others, I know previous successes and failures should assist in making future decisions.
  • I value the opportunity to create something new. Do something that’s never been done before. Every success I now know was tried for the first time once. It’s exciting to know the possibilities are endless to make life better for someone!

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Leadership is knowing who you are, where you want to go, and how you can help others get to where they want to be.”—Derek Sawyer