Kansas Association of Wheat Growers (KAWG) Awards Herb Clutter Memorial Scholarship to Kaden Weltmer

Kaden Weltmer’s first three words were mom, dad and tractor. That combined passion for agriculture and family has never wavered as he worked on the family operation, took on leadership roles in 4-H and competed in FFA. Now a high school senior, his continued commitment to studying agriculture at Kansas State University and his plans to return to the family operation following college make him an ideal recipient for the 2024 Herb Clutter Memorial Scholarship, administered by the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.

“Farming is in my blood, and I’ve loved it from a very young age,” Weltmer said, adding that his first tractor ride planting corn was at three weeks old. “When other people around me are asked what they wanted to be in life, they would say they didn’t know yet. For me, I have always known what I wanted to do; I love to farm.” 

“The only thing better to young me than Christmas was getting out of school and getting to go out and ride in the combine with my dad.” 

The Herb Clutter Memorial Scholarship was established in 2009 to honor Herb Clutter’s influential role in organizing leadership groups on behalf of Kansas wheat producers and is supported by the generosity of the Herb Clutter family. 

Herbert W. Clutter was a farmer from Holcomb and the first president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, which was established in 1948. Clutter encouraged Kansas wheat farmers to organize as a strong, unified voice, which led to the formation of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers in 1952. He encouraged research in education and industrial uses of wheat, improved variety development and methods to produce the best product at the lowest cost. Clutter’s efforts led to the formation of the Kansas Wheat Commission by the Kansas legislature in 1957.

Like Clutter, Weltmer grew up working on his family farm. On the family operation in Smith Center, they raise wheat, corn, soybeans and sorghum in addition to a cow-calf herd, a registered Angus cow herd and a registered Boer goat herd. The family also runs a small feed yard. Weltmer is already putting his lifetime of experience to work by cash-renting 93 acres of his own ground from his grandfather. 

Weltmer is active in Smith County 4-H Council and FFA. His FFA agriscience project — “Digging Deeper: A Study of Stratification of Nutrients in No-till Soils” earned him a trip to nationals, where he placed second — as a high school freshman. He has also competed at the district, state and national FFA levels in multiple career development events including agronomy, agriculture mechanics, livestock judging and employability skills. 

Next year, Weltmer plans to attend Kansas State University and pursue a dual major in agronomy and animal science — a combination of both of his parents’ degrees from K-State.

“I’ve always loved to do what any farm kid loves to do — running combines and tractors. But you can’t get a major in running a combine or a tractor,” Weltmer said. “I first started down the path of agronomy because I really liked projects like ‘Digging Deeper.’ That’s where I thought I would fall in love with agronomy. But then I continually worked with our cattle, and I decided I really like that too. That’s what led me down the path of finding the way I could come out with both.” 

Following graduation, he wants to put what he learns to work back in Smith County as the next generation on the family operation. 

“I plan to supplement our operation with an agronomy business focusing on custom soil sampling and drone work for people around our county,” he wrote in his application essay. “I found my passion at a young age, and I am excited to gain knowledge, connections and experiences and return to Smith County to do what I love — to maintain a sustainable operation and help strengthen our local community.” 

Learn more about the Herb Clutter Memorial Scholarship at https://kswheat.com/clutter