Inside Columbia


The Face of Soy

By Inside Columbia
Gary Wheeler of Missouri Soybeans

Gary Wheeler always knew he wanted to work for farmers. But when he began working for a nonprofit, his passion grew deeper as he realized how he could really help them. “I had the realization of how policy and education can really move the needle for the very folks that grow our food supply,” Wheeler says.

Now the CEO and executive director of Missouri Soybeans, Wheeler continues to feel an unwavering amount of love toward his position. “Working for farmers has been so rewarding and humbling at the same time,” he says. “This job has been the pinnacle of my career to date.”

Missouri Soybeans is dedicated to ensuring farmers across the state have the tools and customers they need. “With the power of two complementary organizations supporting them, farmers can be assured their soybeans are being marketed, researched and advocated for,” Wheeler says.

Throughout his time with Missouri Soybeans, Wheeler has focused on partnerships and used the power of forward-thinking to successfully lead the state’s soybean organizations through significant operational and strategic challenges. “My job requires me to be an inch deep but a mile wide and it’s different every day,” he says.

Even though the work can be tough, Wheeler says it’s incredibly humbling to work daily with a team of experts to provide a direct impact on the soybean industry.

Soybeans are not just a food, as it is used as feed, fuel and fiber. Soybeans are low in cholesterol while being high in protein and other nutrients, meaning soy foods can be a part of a healthy diet.

Soybeans produce many byproducts as well, including biodiesel which is made from excess soybean oil. As a renewable ingredient, soybeans are also used in many consumer goods including shoes, tires, sealants and much more.

With limitless opportunities, Wheeler has learned the importance of building the right team that will deliver “for the people you work for.” That means surrounding yourself with people who are smarter and more capable than yourself, he says. “Find your top three strengths and hire for the rest,” Wheeler says. “Stay humble and always remember where you started.”

Wheeler earned his bachelor of science degree in agricultural business from Murray State University and his master’s in business administration from William Woods University. Prior to working at Missouri Soybeans, Wheeler served the Missouri agricultural industry in roles with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Corn Growers Association and Missouri Corn Merchandising Council. Wheeler also served in the Missouri Army National Guard for more than a decade.

But after more than eight years in his current role, Wheeler says he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. “I love my job, so it’s hard to think of an alternative,” he says.

Outside of work, Wheeler enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, hunting and reading.


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