Ag Industry & Crop Management Conference Speakers

Stefan Gailans, Research and field crops director, Practical Farmers of Iowa

Stefan Gailans is the research and field crops director at Practical Farmers of Iowa – a farmer-led, non-profit organization based in Ames that specializes in equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Since 2013, Stefan has led the Cooperators’ Program – PFI’s vehicle for conducting on-farm research and demonstration on the issues and concerns deemed most important by their farming members. He also coordinates field days, conference sessions and workshops for PFI’s field crops program; all in the spirit of fostering farmer-to-farmer knowledge-sharing.

Patrick Yockey, Technical Services Field Manager, Pivot Bio

Patrick Yockey attended Southern Illinois University, where he earned his BS and MS degrees in Plant and Soil Science, with an emphasis in agronomy and soil microbiology.  In addition, he earned an MBA at the University of Missouri. Patrick spent the bulk of his career with DuPont Pioneer, starting out as a sales agronomist and progressing to leadership positions in agronomy, sales and business leadership in the central US and Canada.  He served as business director for their northern business unit for seven years. Patrick founded BluEarth Agribusiness Strategies, where he worked with agribusiness leadership teams in the US and Brazil to develop a strategy.  He also worked in retail agronomy in Iowa. Patrick joined Pivot Bio in 2019 as Technical Services Field Manager, where he is focused on developing the commercial business in the Midwest.

Laila A. Puntel, Assistant Professor in Soil Fertility and Precision Ag Scientist, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Originally from Buenos Aires province, Argentina, Puntel grew up in a productive corn, soybean, wheat, and barley region. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in agriculture engineering from the National University of Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a master’s degree and a doctorate in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University. Her areas of expertise are precision ag and nutrient management with an emphasis on new technologies and decision support tools for cropping systems. During her Ph.D., Puntel worked on simple and complex tools for forecasting yield and economical optimum nitrogen rate in corn. Between her, MS and Ph.D. Puntel co-founded a precision ag and soil testing company in Argentina providing service to producers, crop advisors, and big ag companies. After finishing her Ph.D., she moved to Cambridge, MA, to work at an Ag-Tech company called “CiBo”, where she worked on crop simulation model-based software. Currently, Puntel is an Assistant professor in soil fertility and precision ag at the University of Lincoln Nebraska.

Rick Shanks, ARM, Chief Sustainability Advisor, Sustainable Environmental Consultants

Rick brings extensive risk management experience that is needed to manage traditional and non-traditional risk concerns the food system faces to the Sustainable Environmental Consultants (SEC) team. As chief sustainability advisor for SEC, Rick is responsible for identifying areas of opportunity and providing insight into food system and agribusiness operations and developing sustainability risk reduction solutions. In addition to his experience, he is invested in the company as a stockholder and a Board member. He has passion for working in the sustainability space and looking for long-term solutions to risk problems with people, community, product, and planet. He knows reputation risk is the number one risk facing SEC customers, and he believes it’s essential for them to have an effective sustainability risk management process in place. Prior to joining the SEC team, he served as the national managing director of the food system, agribusiness and beverage industry practice at Aon, a global risk management and insurance consulting firm, for more than 20 years. He has more than 30 years of experience in the food and agribusiness industry. He brings that wealth of experience to the SEC team and firmly believes helping others reach the level of success in life that they want whether it is personal or professional are among his top career achievements. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and business administration from the University of Missouri. He also has earned an Associate of Risk Management (ARM) designation from the Insurance Institute of America. He currently serves as an adjunct expert for the Food Protection and Defense Institute, which is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. Rick enjoys golf, travel, being with family and spending time with his wife Rena and their dog Cubby. He also likes digging in and researching new sustainability issues and solutions.

Mark Varner, Agronomist/Key Account Manager, Vive Crop Protection

Mark Varner is a Key Account Manager for Vive Crop Protection. Varner works with distributors in the head office and with the regional distributor account staff. He strives to create market demand to support Vive’s unique product offerings. Before starting at Vive, Mark worked for Bayer Cropscience and DuPont. Varner is a graduate of Michigan State University with a BS Crop and Soil Science.

Ron Geis, Market Development Specialist, Corteva

Ron began his Crop Protection career with DuPont in 1984 upon graduation from the Univ of Nebraska. First assignment was in western Nebraska as a split between field development and sales for 5 years. The next 10 years was spent in southeast Nebraska in a sales territory. In 1999, I transferred to an NW Iowa sales territory and had roles in both seed and crop protection. For the past 2 years, I have been the Market Development Specialist for Northern Iowa with responsibility for internal and customer training.

Michael Ott, CEO, Rantizo

Rantizo is creating a targeted drone spraying platform that utilizes electrostatic technology to safely and precisely deliver cartridge dispensed agrichemicals when and where they are needed. They are the first and only company approved for drone spraying in multiple states across the United States. Rantizo was founded by Iowa native, chemist and venture capitalist Michael Ott in early 2018. Before Rantizo, Michael worked in corporate venture capital for a fund backed by Monsanto, Novozymes and Bunge and invented a patented technology that delivers small amounts of nitrogen on a rice seed as it grows. Michael has a master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Iowa and lives in Iowa City with his wife, two sons and daughter.

Jamie Brand, Business Development Manager, AgriVision Equipment Group

Jamie grew up on a livestock and row crop farm near Grinnell, Iowa. He received his degree in Business Management from the University of Northern Iowa. Prior to joining AgriVision, he worked for 360 Yield Center as the Sales Manager. He has two boys with his wife Natalie who is a part-time nurse.

Eric Snodgrass, Principal Atmospheric Scientist, Nutrien Ag Solutions

Eric Snodgrass is the Principal Atmospheric Scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions, where he develops predictive, analytical software solutions to manage weather risk for global production agriculture. He provides frequent weather updates that focus on how high-impact weather events influence global agriculture productivity. His current research uses machine learning to better understand field-level weather impacts on yields in the US and to increase confidence in long-range weather prediction. He presents his research as a featured speaker at over 50 conferences annually where he provides logistical guidance and solutions to weather-sensitive financial institutions, farmers, commodity traders, and other stakeholders. Before transitioning to Nutrien Ag Solutions, Eris was the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2006-2019. Each year, he guided over 1800 students through the wild side of weather in ATMS 120: Severe and Hazardous Weather. He taught advanced courses on General Physical Meteorology (ATMS 201), Meteorological Instrumentation (ATMS 315), Economics of Weather (ATMS 491) and supervised numerous Capstone Research projects. Snodgrass also taught ENSU 310: Renewable and Alternative Energy for the Environmental Sustainability Program. He also advised all undergraduate majors and minors in atmospheric science (~100 students) and supervised graduate teaching assistants and master’s students. He won many prestigious teaching awards at the University of Illinois including College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence award, the Campus Teaching Excellence Award, and the Campus Teaching Excellent Award in Online and Distance Education. Also, his online version of ATMS 120 was awarded the 2012 “Best Online Course” from the University Professional Continuing Education Association (a national organization). Eric is now an Adjunct Assistant Professor for the Dept. of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois.


Denny Lawrence, Field Sales Representative, Bayer Cropscience

Denny Grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Southwest Iowa in the 1970s and received his BS in Ag from the University of Nebraska 1985 and became a Certified Crop Adviser in 1996. Denny started his career with UAP in the Ag Retail business in Wall Lake IA in 1986. He spent 13 years in Sales & Management in the Retail Fertilizer, Chem and Custom Application business with UAP and started with Monsanto in the Spring of 1998. He went on to spend 21 Years with Monsanto working in both Seed & Traits as well as their Crop Protection Business. During his time with Bayer /Monsanto he has Worked in 35 of Iowa’s 99 Counties, yet never moved from his acreage south of Wall Lake. He is currently serving as a field sales rep for Bayer Crop Science in Northwest Iowa.

Mike Castellano, Chief Agronomist, EngeniousAg, LLC |

Mike Castellano, co-founder and chief agronomist of EngeniousAg, is a professor of Agronomy and the William T. Frankenberger Professor of Soil Science at Iowa State University. EnGeniousAg LLC was founded by a team of engineers and agronomists in 2018 to develop and commercialize new types of sensors for agriculture. This Iowa-based startup brings together advanced technologies from diverse disciplines to create low-cost and rapid-readout products to help farmers simultaneously increase profitability and sustainability.

Scott Jungman, Enlist Field Specialist-Iowa, Corteva Agriscience

Scott began his career working for FMC Corp in MN and NE. Held roles in a sales territory for seven years of the time in Minnesota and led a group called Special Markets-a field level US marketing group out of Omaha. The next 16 years were spent working for Pioneer Hi-Bred out of Johnston Iowa where I held positions including Agronomy Manager for Iowa and Missouri, Services Manager for the Western US and finally as Sales Manager for PROAccess Genetics. My role as Sales Manager allowed me to work with all the companies partnered or owned by Pioneer/Dupont-outside the Pioneer brand. This consisted of companies like Hoegemeyer, NuTech, AgVenture, Becks and Burrus.

Kevin Glanz, Owner, Honey Creek Seed Company

During 12 years of practicing no-till and cover-cropping on my farm, I have witnessed so many positive changes in my soil and the economics of my farm. These practices have improved the sustainability of my farm and have made a large difference in the profitability of my farming operation. From soil biology to earthworm populations to erosion control to improving soil health and using less inputs and achieving higher yields, I share 12 years of basic cover-cropping and no-till experiences with the audience. I also have what I call my “Cover-cropping Top 20” list that seems to stimulate the thought process that it takes to begin these practices. I share what I’ve seen, done, and learned about these conservation practices. Kevin Glanz farms north of Manchester, Iowa. His farming operation consists of approximately 650 acres of row crop corn and soybeans on a flip-flop rotation. Kevin implemented a “no spring tillage” practice in 2008 and following in 2010 added a cereal rye cover crop practice. He states that the last 12 years have been the most interesting and educational of his farming career.

Meaghan Anderson, Extension Field Agronomist, Iowa State University

Meaghan Anderson is an extension field agronomist for Iowa State University, serving clients in a 9-county area in central Iowa. She provides research-based educational programming regarding crop production and management to farmers, ag retailers, and others involved in agriculture. Prior to working as a field agronomist for Iowa State University, she obtained a B.S. in Agronomy and an M.S. in Crop Production & Physiology with a focus in weed science from Iowa State University.

Tom Lawler, Regenerative Ag Specialist, Indigo Ag

Improving Soil Health and Improving Profits Through Regenerative Practices

My name is Tom Lawler and I work as a Regenerative Agriculture Specialist for Indigo. I grew up on a 1450-acre corn and soybean farm in Northwest Iowa which taught me the value of hard work and dedication. Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I knew farming would be in my future which is why I studied Agronomy at Iowa State University for my undergrad and completed a master’s degree in soil science. I currently live in Ames, IA with my wife Corrine, Jude my oldest son, Solomon my youngest son, and our third child on the way. As a family we enjoy serving in our church, spending time outside, going to the farm, and traveling. Professionally, I now spend a lot of time being a student and observer of how God designed the world and how to mimic nature in order to increase soil health and the resiliency of U.S. farms. When we increase the diversity of the soil food web, we can tap back into the inherent level of efficiency most agricultural soils once operated at prior to cultivation. Asking questions and building relationships with growers is key to understanding each set of unique challenges and obstacles they face every day. Putting myself in their shoes helps me relate and make better recommendations that have a greater impact on their farm now and into the future. I especially enjoy creating fertility and cover crop recommendations that will begin reducing input costs and improving profitability year one!

Gary Schmitz, Technical Services Manager, BASF

Gary Schmitz is the Regional Manager for BASF Tech Service in the Midwest.  His team is responsible for new product introduction, sales training and education, and cooperation with third-party personnel. Gary grew up in south-central Illinois.  He has a B.S. degree (Agronomy-Soil Science) from the University of Illinois. He received his M.S. (Weed Science) and Ph.D. degrees (Weed Science with minors in Soil Science and Plant Physiology) from the University of Kentucky. In 1991, Gary joined Sandoz Crop Protection as a Field R&D Rep.  After the acquisition of the Sandoz corn business by BASF in 1997, Gary had roles as both a Field Biologist and a Tech Service Rep before moving into his current role of Regional Manager.

Robin Pruisner, State Entomologist, Entomology & Plant Science Bureau Chief, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

Robin Pruisner is the State Entomologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and is responsible for regulatory oversight including noxious weed law/state weed commissioner oversight and biotech concurrence on federal permits. She is recognized Iowa SPRO (State Plant Regulating Official) to USDA-APHIS-PPQ and the Iowa Seed Control Official for the Association of American Seed Control Officials (AASCO). In addition to serving as the State Entomologist, she served as the Interim Bureau Chief of Weights & Measures at IDALS from Sept 2011 to Oct 2012. W&M is responsible for licensing and inspecting commercial scales and fuel meters in Iowa, as well as fuel quality assurance.

Agribusiness Career Day Speakers

Rob Denson, President, Des Moines Area Community College

Rob Denson was appointed the fourth President of Des Moines Area Community College on November 1, 2003. Rob grew up on a farm near Homestead, Iowa, south of the Amana Colonies, and graduated from high school in Marengo, Iowa. The first native-born Iowan to be President of DMACC, Rob has a B.S. in Political Science and Economics and an M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Iowa State University. He worked for Iowa State as an Assistant Dean for three years before moving to Florida to serve as an Assistant Dean of Students. Rob graduated from Law School at the University of Florida in 1979 and was an Associate University Attorney for three years before operating his own law practice for 16 years. He is a board-certified civil trial lawyer. In 1996, he became Assistant to the President and Dean for Institutional Advancement at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida. In 1998, Rob returned to Iowa as President of Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Iowa. Rob loves his job at DMACC and is active on a number of community boards, including three years on the United Way of Central Iowa Board. In addition to his DMACC position, he serves on the National Board of Gateway to College, a drop-out recovery program; the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Executive Committee; the National STEM connector Innovation Task Force, and the Food and Ag Council; and, the National Leadership Council of Opportunity Nation. He also chairs the National STEM connector Higher Education Council and serves on the boards of Iowa Student Loan Liquidity, the Iowa Ag. Literacy Foundation, the Technology Association of Iowa, the Iowa Quality Center, the Agri-Business Association of Iowa, the Iowa Direct Caregivers Association, the Iowa Rural Development Council, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Iowa Innovation Council, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Rob and his wife, Pat, have two children and five grandchildren.

Laura Blomme, Executive Recruiter, Hedlin Ag Enterprises

Laura was born and raised on her family’s grain farm in Southern Illinois.  She graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration where she also played women’s college basketball.  She later graduated from The University of Iowa with a Master’s in Business Administration. Laura is passionate about the agricultural industry and the people that work in it.  Prior to joining Hedlin Ag Enterprises, Laura served in various sales, marketing, communications, and training roles in the seed and equipment industries.  She most recently worked for DuPont Pioneer, first as the Commercial Unit Digital Sales Lead for Encirca Services and then as a Territory Sales Manager for Pioneer Seed.  Prior to that, she was the Director of Marketing for Balzer Inc., an equipment manufacturer in Mountain Lake, Minnesota where she was responsible for all facets of marketing and communications.  Before joining Balzer, Laura held roles in sales, training management and marketing at Kinze Manufacturing based in Williamsburg, Iowa.  She also served as the Media Spokesperson for the company. Laura and her husband reside in Victor, Iowa with their four daughters.

Jennifer Zwagerman, Director & Assistant Professor of Law, Drake University Law School

Jennifer Zwagerman is the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center and an Assistant Professor of Law at Drake University Law School. She is a 2004 graduate of Drake Law School, where she obtained her certificate in food and agricultural law and served as editor-in-chief of the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law. She also received her LL.M in Food & Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law – Fayetteville. Prior to joining Drake Law School, she was an attorney in the Des Moines office of Faegre & Benson (n/k/a Faegre Baker Daniels) with a national food and agribusiness practice and served as a law clerk to the Honorable David R. Hansen on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Jennifer served as the 2017-2018 president of the American Agricultural Law Association, is the current Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Academy of Food Law & Policy, and is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association Agricultural Law Council, Small/Solo Section Council, Membership Committee, and Rural Practice Committee.”

Adrienne Gathman, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, Simpson College

Adrienne Gathman currently serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Simpson College. After receiving her B.A. in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Simpson College, she went on to receive her J.D. from Drake University Law School with concentrations in Food and Agricultural Law and Constitutional Law and Civil Rights. She most recently completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from The University of Texas at Dallas. While attending The University of Texas at Dallas, she worked as a Teaching Assistant for the Political Science Department, while also serving as an adjunct instructor and a subject matter expert at Brookhaven College, a part of the Dallas County Community College District. Her research focuses on political institutions at the state and federal levels, with particular emphasis placed on the interactions of the elected officials in state executive branches.

Dr. Wendong Zhang, Assistant Professor of Economics, Iowa State University

Dr. Wendong Zhang is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University since August 2015. His research seeks to better understand the U.S. farmland market, agricultural nutrient runoff, conservation practice adoption, and Chinese agriculture. Dr. Zhang is also affiliated with the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD). Dr. Zhang is the leading researcher of the Iowa Land Value Survey, the Iowa Farmland Ownership, and the Tenure Survey, as well as the ISU Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference. He also developed the Iowa Farmland Portal as well as co-founded the new ISU China Ag center jointly with Dr. Dermot Hayes in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Zhang received his Ph.D. in Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics from the Ohio State University in July 2015, and he also holds a BSc in Environmental Science from Fudan University in China.

Detective Tim Denger

Detective Tim Denger – has been a police officer for over 15 years, currently serving as a Detective in Threat Assessment and Management with Iowa State University Police. Det. Denger currently is a Crisis Negotiator and a Trainer for Mental Health First Aid, CIT and Tactical Patrol Medicine. Prior to coming to Iowa State, Det. Denger spent 9 years with the Muskegon Police Department where he was on the Neighborhood Response Team and as a patrol officer. Det. Denger also served for 3 years with the Michigan State Police Drug Task Force – WEMET.

Breakfast Speakers

Rob Denson, President, Des Moines Area Community College

Rob Denson was appointed the fourth President of Des Moines Area Community College on November 1, 2003. Rob grew up on a farm near Homestead, Iowa, south of the Amana Colonies, and graduated from high school in Marengo, Iowa. The first native-born Iowan to be President of DMACC, Rob has a B.S. in Political Science and Economics and an M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Iowa State University. He worked for Iowa State as an Assistant Dean for three years before moving to Florida to serve as an Assistant Dean of Students. Rob graduated from Law School at the University of Florida in 1979 and was an Associate University Attorney for three years before operating his own law practice for 16 years. He is a board-certified civil trial lawyer. In 1996, he became Assistant to the President and Dean for Institutional Advancement at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida. In 1998, Rob returned to Iowa as President of Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Iowa. Rob loves his job at DMACC and is active on a number of community boards, including three years on the United Way of Central Iowa Board. In addition to his DMACC position, he serves on the National Board of Gateway to College, a drop-out recovery program; the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Executive Committee; the National STEM connector Innovation Task Force, and the Food and Ag Council; and, the National Leadership Council of Opportunity Nation. He also chairs the National STEM connector Higher Education Council and serves on the boards of Iowa Student Loan Liquidity, the Iowa Ag. Literacy Foundation, the Technology Association of Iowa, the Iowa Quality Center, the Agri-Business Association of Iowa, the Iowa Direct Caregivers Association, the Iowa Rural Development Council, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Iowa Innovation Council, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Rob and his wife, Pat, have two children and five grandchildren.

Mark Reisinger, Senior Director of Commercial Operations, PivotBio

Mark Reisinger is responsible for the commercial strategy for Pivot Bio’s cutting-edge technology and novel fertilizer solutions. A farmer himself, Mark brings a deep knowledge of grower needs as well as extensive professional experience in commercial strategy, brand development, product marketing, and advocacy. Prior to joining Pivot Bio, Mark was the Senior Marketing Manager for North American Seed Treatment Enterprise at DuPont Pioneer. He also worked as the company’s Global Grain Trade Lead, collaborating with NGOs, regulatory offices, and trade associations to promote biotechnology. Mark has served as the Chief Agricultural Policy Advisor to Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley, the CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, and Iowa State Director of the USDA’s Office of Rural Development where he and his team received the USDA’s Information and Outreach Award for outstanding public relations. Mark earned his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and his JD from Drake Law School. He grew up on a corn, soybean, alfalfa and livestock farm near Eldora, Iowa, and is still actively involved with the family farming operation.

Seed Forum Speakers

John Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, & First Vice-Chair ASTA Board

John Latham literally grew up in the seed business.  His grandparents started Latham Seeds in 1947 as an oats company.  And more than 70 years later, their former home in North Central Iowa remains the company’s headquarters.  Today Latham Hi-Tech Seeds offers a full lineup of corn, soybean, alfalfa, and cover crop products.  John Latham serves as president; his wife, Shannon, serves as vice president; and John’s brother, Chris, is the company’s, Chief Financial Officer. John graduated in 1992 from Iowa State University with a degree in Ag Business.  He then spent two years as a production agronomist for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, before joining Latham Seeds in 1994 as a sales representative.  A leader in the seed industry, John currently serves as the American Seed Trade Association’s Vice-Chair and previously served as ASTA’s North Central Region Vice President from 2012-2018 and Chairman of Seed First Political Action Committee from 2015-2018.  He also has served as chairman of the ASTA’s Corn & Sorghum Division and Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee.  John and Shannon co-chaired the ASTA’s 125th annual convention in 2008.  John also served as Iowa Seed Association President from 2003-2004. John is active in his community, as well.  He has served as his church council president and recently served as chair of the Franklin County Development Association. In his leisure, John enjoys golfing, traveling and following Iowa State University sports.  John and Shannon are the proud parents of two teenagers, Ian and Elizabeth.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig

Mike Naig learned the value of hard work as he grew up helping his dad and uncle run their crop and livestock farm in the northwest corner of the state near Cylinder, Iowa. He is still involved in the operation today. Mike graduated from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake with degrees in biology and political science. He and his wife, Jaime, have three boys. Before becoming Secretary, Mike had been active in agribusiness for over 13 years, serving in public policy roles for state and national trade associations and in the private industry. Mike served as the Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under Bill Northey since September 2013. In this role, Mike was responsible for the operations of the department’s policy, budget, and personnel. His experience working alongside Secretary Northey showed him the importance of being accessible to Iowans to better represent their interests and be responsive to their needs.

Dave Tierney, State, and Local Government Affairs Team Lead, Bayer Cropscience

Dave is a fourth-generation Iowa farmer in his spare time.  After graduating from Iowa State University, he was hired by the DEKALB Corporation where he held numerous sales and management positions throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States with the company.  In 1999 he joined Monsanto after the company acquired DEKALB and merged its agricultural divisions into one organization. In 2003 he started lobbying for the company.  Currently, he leads the State and Local Government Affairs Team for Bayer Crop Science in the US.

Stephanie Regagnon, CEO, FieldWatch

Stephanie Regagnon is the President & CEO of FieldWatch, Inc., a non-profit company promoting stewardship and collaboration in agriculture. FieldWatch works to increase communication between crop growers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators in support of ongoing stewardship activities and is currently operating in 22 states and one Canadian province as the preferred specialty crop and apiary registry. Stephanie has worked in the agriculture and renewable energy industries in Washington, DC, and St. Louis, MO for close to 20 years.

Dr. Chad Hart, Iowa State University

Chad Hart was born and raised in southwest Missouri and his parents raised a few cattle and operated a small meat locker.   Chad received a B.S. in economics with minors in mathematics, history, and astronomy from Southwest Missouri State University in 1991.  He moved to Iowa in the summer of 1991 to pursue graduate education and received a Ph.D. in economics and statistics in 1999 from Iowa State University.  Chad’s research has examined the interaction between the agricultural commitments within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the agricultural policies and programs of WTO members, crop insurance, international trade, biofuel policy, federal agricultural policy, and crop marketing.


Leah Wilkinson, V.P. of Public Policy and Education, American Feed Industry Association

Leah Wilkinson is the American Feed Industry Association’s vice president of public policy and education. Wilkinson joined AFIA in 2010. She interacts with state legislatures, feed regulatory agencies in the western U.S., the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Wilkinson also works with the AFIA Feed Regulatory and Ingredient Approval and Definition Committees and serves as the chair of the International Feed Industry Federation’s Regulatory Committee. Growing up on a Minnesota swine farm, and as a graduate in swine production from the University of Minnesota, Wilkinson is very familiar with animal agriculture. She has also worked for the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, both in Washington, D.C. Before joining AFIA, Wilkinson served as the director of policy and industry relations for ViaGen, Inc. in Austin, Texas. Wilkinson holds a bachelor’s degree in animal and plant systems from the University of Minnesota. She can be reached at (703) 558-3560. Founded in 1909, AFIA, based in Arlington, Va., is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the U.S. animal food industry and its suppliers. The organization’s membership is comprised of more than 680 domestic and international companies that represent the total feed industry — manufacturers of commercial and integrated feed and pet food, ingredient suppliers, pharmaceutical companies, industry support, and equipment manufacturers. AFIA members manufacture more than 75 percent of the feed and 70 percent of the non-grain ingredients used in the country. AFIA is also recognized as the leader on international industry developments and holds membership in the International Feed Industry Federation.

Jamee Eggers, Producer Education Director, Iowa Pork Producers Association

Jamee Eggers serves as the Producer Education Director at the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Her responsibilities include facilitating the activities of producer-led committees in the areas of swine health, animal well-being, research, and producer education.  She leads a group of pork producers and stakeholders on a Task Force with efforts focused on prevention and preparedness in the face of foreign animal diseases such as African Swine Fever.  Jamee enjoys furthering the vision of the Iowa Pork Producers Association – successful farmers, enriched lives. Prior to her time at Iowa Pork, she was on staff at the National Pork Board and previously at the State Veterinarian’s Office within the Colorado and Nebraska Departments of Agriculture.  Jamee received her Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University and her Master of Science degree from the University of Nebraska.  Both degrees were in the field of animal science.  Jamee and her husband raise and sell purebred pigs throughout the US as well as farm corn and soybeans as the 3rd generation on the farm in central Iowa.

Dr. Andrew Hennenfent, DVM, MPH, Emergency Management Coordinator for Animal Health, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Dr. Andrew Hennenfent is the Emergency Management Coordinator for Animal Health at the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship (IDALS). In this role, Dr. Hennenfent oversees planning and response for transboundary animal diseases that could the state. This includes conducting preparedness workshops throughout Iowa, coordinating tabletop exercises, and educating veterinarians on disease response. Prior to this Dr. Hennenfent was the Public Health Veterinarian for the city of Washington, D.C. where he oversaw zoonotic disease programs, including both rabies and vector-borne disease investigations. During this time in DC, Dr. Hennenfent also led both the Ebola virus disease and then Zika virus disease responses for the city. Dr. Hennenfent earned his DVM at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana in 2012 and MPH from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2014.


Luncheon Speakers

Dr. Thomas Brumm, Associate Professor, Iowa State University Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Tom Brumm is the Mary and Charles Sukup Global Professor in Food Security in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, and he is an associate professor in the ISU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. He is the director of assessment for the College of Engineering and associate director of the ISU Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods. Brumm’s disciplinary research and outreach efforts focus on post-harvest technology, especially for developing countries. He is a faculty leader for Iowa State’s service-learning student program in Uganda. He is a leader in assessment, learning communities and competency-based learning at Iowa State, incorporating these activities into engineering and technology curricula. He has extensive experience teaching online and managing online course delivery programs. He worked for nine years in the seed industry before joining the Iowa State faculty in 2000. Dr. Brumm received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering with a minor in Chemical Engineering, Iowa State University, M.S. in Agricultural Engineering, Purdue University, and B.S. in Agricultural Engineering, Iowa State University.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds

As Iowa’s 43rd Governor, Kim Reynolds is determined to make sure that Iowa’s success is every Iowan’s success. Reynolds previously served as the 46th Lieutenant Governor of Iowa from 2011 to 2017. Before she was elected Lieutenant Governor, Reynolds served as Clarke County Treasurer for four terms and then served in the Iowa Senate from 2009 to 2011. Reynolds became Governor of Iowa in May 2017 when her predecessor, Terry Branstad, stepped down to become United States Ambassador to China and then fully elected by Iowans in 2018. At age 57, Kim earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University. Then, nearly two years later, on Nov. 4, 2018, she was elected by Iowans to become their first woman Governor. Family means everything to Kim and her husband, Kevin. They have three daughters (Jennifer, Nicole, and Jessica) who are happily married, and Kim and Kevin love spending time with their 10 very active grandchildren.

AAI Annual Meeting

Joel Brinkmeyer, CEO, Agribusiness Association of Iowa

Joel Brinkmeyer is the CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI), a position he has held since 2013.  The Radcliffe, Iowa, native has a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and a minor in Ag Business from Iowa State University and has diverse livestock and crop background.  His career includes 20 years as Executive Vice President of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council as well as 17 years in various farm and agribusiness lending and administrative capacities for Farm Credit Services of America and Great Western Bank. In 2015, Brinkmeyer led the efforts to form two new 501(c)3 organizations as affiliates of AAI – the Agricultural Legal Defense Fund and the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council (INREC). Joel serves a second CEO role with INREC, which brings farm & commodity organizations together with the fertilizer and crop production industry to reach common nutrient management objectives. The Agricultural Legal Defense Fund, led by AAI,  is the primary source of funding support for the defense of the drainage districts in named in the Des Moines Water Works Law Suit. In addition to upholding the mission of the nation’s largest agribusiness association – to advocate, communicate, and educate on behalf of a proactive, profitable, and environmentally responsible professional agribusiness industry – Joel and his wife, Linda, own and operate a cattle and grain operation in Decatur County in southern Iowa. They have three grown children and live, mostly, in Ames.

Doug Gross, Attorney at Law, BrownWinick Law Firm

Douglas E. Gross is a member of BrownWinick. Doug has served on the firm’s Management Committee as Managing Member. Doug has extensive expertise in the corporate and government relations areas of law. He has provided business and legal assistance to numerous organizations to assist them in achieving their goals. Doug has experience with the initial organization of agricultural operations, legislative and governmental agency representation, including regulatory matters and economic development opportunities. Prior to entering the practice of law, Doug served as Chief of Staff to Governor Terry Branstad, Director of Business and Finance at the Iowa State Board of Regents, Administrative Assistant to Governor Robert D. Ray, Director of Fuels Division of the Iowa Energy Policy Council, Chief Legislative Assistant and Campaign Co-Manager for Congressman Tom Tauke, Legislative Field Director for the Iowa Republican Party and Legislative Intern to the Iowa General Assembly. Doug has extensive campaign experience in Iowa, including involvement in numerous successful gubernatorial, congressional, and state legislative campaigns. Doug served as co-chair of President George W. Bush’s finance effort in Iowa and Chairman of Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Doug was the 2002 Republican nominee for Governor of Iowa. Doug received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1977 and his J.D., with honors, from Drake University in 1985. Doug was a Lydia C. Roberts fellow at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs. Since 2005, Doug has been selected as a leader in Iowa for inclusion in Chambers USA® in the area of corporate/M&A. In 2010 Doug was selected for inclusion Best Lawyers® for his Government Relations practice, government contracts and in 2012 was named Best Lawyers’ Lawyer of the Year in Government Relations. Doug was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1986.

Bill Beukema, AAI Board Member & Grain Committee Chair, CEO, StateLine Cooperative

Bill Beukema is currently the CEO of and General Manager of StateLine Cooperative in Burt, Iowa. He succeeded Larry Sterk as CEO in 2014.  Bill is the Divisional Director of Grain for the Agribusiness Association of Iowa Board of Directors and the Grain Committee Chair. Bill has over 20 years of progressively responsible leadership and experience in agriculture for both cooperatives and privately held companies. He was previously employed as Vice President of Operations with West Central Cooperative, Ralston. Prior to joining West Central Cooperative, Beukema was General Manager of Dakota Plains Ag Center, LLC in Parkston, SD. His career also includes experience as Location General Manager of Renewal Energy Group, Ralston. Bill was raised on a row crop and livestock farm near Bondurant. He is a 1993 graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ag Business and a minor in Agronomy. He and his wife, Stacy, have three children.

Craig Struve, INREC Board Member, CEO, SoilView, LLC

Craig Struve is the CEO, SoilView, LLC. Craig has spent over 40 years in production agricultural businesses including operating an independent agronomy service center providing crop nutrients, seed, crop chemicals, application, and crop data management in conjunction with a successful precision program.  Along with agronomy services C-S Agrow Service marketed a full line of grain storage, handling, and drying equipment.  He also help to start Calumet Manure Management which services northwest Iowa’s dairy and swine operations. He is also involved in a family farming operation in the northwest, Iowa.  Craig is past president of the Iowa Fertilizer and Chemical Association, past Iowa CCA Board member and past member of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa Board of Directors, the Iowa Nutrient Management Task Force and currently serves as a board member on the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council.

Shawn Richmond, Environmental Services Director, Agribusiness Association of Iowa

Shawn is currently the Environmental Services Director for the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and provides environmental services support to Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council (INREC). Shawn’s strengths are in the development and management of environmental programs along with science and new technology development. Shawn received this Master in Science for Water Resources from Iowa State University, 2003 and a Bachelor’s in Science in Environmental Science also at Iowa State University, 1999. Shawn was previously a Senior Environmental Specialist with IDALS for 12 years where he managed the Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and provided leadership on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and Gulf Hypoxia Task Force. Shawn and his wife, Vicki, live in Urbandale with their 3 boys. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys camping, fishing, and hunting with his family and friends.

Dean Lemke, Nutrient Management & Environmental Stewardship Director, Agribusiness Association of Iowa

Dean currently leads the Agribusiness Association of Iowa’s efforts to assist with the implementation of Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative and the tracking of voluntarily adopted practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Dean was the lead author of the agricultural non-point source section of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and has over forty years of experience in developing and implementing research initiatives, new technologies, policies, and assistance programs to advance environmental stewardship of production agriculture. Dean and his wife, Peggy, reside and run a family farm in Dows, Iowa, and have two grown children.

Kevin Drury, Chairman, Capital Campaign Steering Committee, Hedlin Ag Enterprises

Kevin is the Owner and President of Hedlin Ag Enterprises where he is responsible for conducting all aspects of senior-level searches for ag companies and associations since 2001. Prior to entering the executive search business, Kevin spent thirteen years in the crop protection industry and five years in the information technology consulting industry. During his time with Dow Chemical and DowElanco (now DowAgroSciences) in the agricultural chemical business, Kevin held roles in sales, marketing communications, marketing program development, and administration, as well as new product development in Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, and Minnesota. Prior to purchasing Hedlin Ag Enterprises, Kevin spent five years with Analysts International, a technology consulting company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During this time, Kevin had staff management and branch management responsibilities for the company’s office in Des Moines, Iowa. Kevin is a 1983 graduate of Iowa State University with a BS in Ag Business. In addition, he received his MBA from Drake University in 1998. Kevin has been active in the Iowa State University Alumni Association where he has served on the Board of Directors and is a past Board Chair. He is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and is a past board member and president for the Alumni Corporation and Educational Foundation of Eta chapter of Iowa State University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the Agribusiness Association of Iowa. A native of Holstein, Iowa where he grew up on a grain and livestock farm, Kevin resides in Ankeny, Iowa with his wife, Jeanne.

Sponsor Session Speakers

Bill Biedermann, Hedging Strategist, AgMarket.Net

Bill Biedermann is a well-known speaker, presenter, and advisor on commodities. In addition to trading commodities for 40 years of which 5 were in Chicago, he has testified before Congressional hearings, CFTC hearings, served for the US State Department AID and has been invited to speak in nearly every corn-growing state in the US and Canada. Bill co-founded one of the largest IB Brokerage and Agricultural Economic Research firms in the US. Bill provides Agricultural research to traders, food companies and producers worldwide as well as executing futures and options orders on all major exchanges. Bill graduated from Illinois State University with majors in Agricultural Production, Ag Economics, and Ag Education and farmed from 1973-1988. Bill and his wife Penny have a passion for youth. They have 3 kids of their own, were very involved with youth ministry for many years. They now reside in TN.


Iowa Women in Agribusiness Leadership Forum Speakers

Shelly Kruse, AAI Board of Directors, Executive Director of Strategic Relationships, Growmark, Inc.

Shelly Kruse has recently started a new role as the Executive Director of Strategic Relationships for Growmark, Inc. She previously served as the VP of Midwest Retail. She has worked with Growmark since 2008. Kruse graduated from Northern Illinois University and Lewis University.

Laurie Johns, Producer/Anchor, Iowa Minute,

Most currently Laurie held the title of PR Manager at Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, directing the organization’s work in strategic public relations, communications, and media relations activities.   She also writes, produces and anchors the award-winning, consumer-targeted Iowa Minute-which runs in every TV market in Iowa and educates 1.2 million Iowans each week about today’s agriculture. Prior to Iowa Farm Bureau, Laurie worked in broadcast news for 25 years-15 of them with WHOTV13 in Des Moines. In this position, she served as the news anchor and reporter, earning multiple writing awards and 3 Emmys. Laurie earned her Bachelor of Sciences degree at Iowa State University. She grew up on a Century Farm in Wright County.

Emily Schmitt, General Counsel, Sukup Manufacturing

Emily Schmitt is in the third generation of family active in Sukup Manufacturing Co., the largest family-owned, full-line grain drying and storage equipment manufacturer in the country. She serves as General Counsel for the company, which employs more than 600. Emily earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Iowa State University in 2008 and went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Law with high honors in 2011. As general counsel, she manages a wide variety of legal issues including intellectual property, litigation, public policy, and human resources. Emily spends time promoting and speaking on the Sukup Safe T Home®, a hurricane-proof home the company manufactures and has placed nearly 300 homes in Haiti ( She has recently been appointed to the Empower Rural Iowa Taskforce by the Governor, and she has been named as one of Business Record’s 40 Under 40. She also serves on numerous boards of directors at the local and state level. Emily and her husband Andy reside in Clear Lake, Iowa, with their two daughters.

Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Julie Kenney, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Julie Kenney grew up on a family farm near Lohrville, Iowa. Today, Julie, her husband Mark, and their family own and operate a corn and soybean farm in Story County. Before joining the Department, Julie had been active in the agribusiness industry for nearly 15 years. Julie was appointed Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture in 2018. As Deputy Secretary, Julie is responsible for the operations of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, specifically policy, budget, and personnel.

Liz Hobart, Government Relations Manager, Growmark, Inc.

Liz Hobart serves as the Government Relations Manager with GROWMARK, Inc.  In this role, Liz is responsible for the formulation, direction, and communication of legislative and regulatory information and activities impacting the GROWMARK System in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.  She assists the GROWMARK System in identifying opportunities for collaboration and engagement and provides input into policy initiatives that impact the System and industry.  She has held this position since April 2013. Liz received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Illinois State University.  She grew up in a small rural community and has been engaged in the family row crop production operation.  She and her husband, Robbie, reside in Anchor, Illinois.

Melissa Gesing, Owner Red Goose Solutions L.L.C.

Melissa Gesing was born and raised in Northeast Iowa. Growing up, her family was heavily involved in the ag industry. Her dad delivered propane and then became the propane marketing manager for a local co-op, and her mom worked for several years as a bookkeeper for A.M.P.I. and then Supersweet Feeds. Her family also lived on a hobby farm with calves and hogs, so Melissa grew up doing daily farm chores. Melissa graduated from Fredericksburg High School in 1997 and first became active in politics while attending Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. In addition to working for Elizabeth Dole for President and organizing central Iowa for the historic Iowa Straw Poll in Ames during the summer of 1999, Melissa activated the six-year dormant Simpson College Republicans and served as their chair for two years. Following her graduation from Simpson College in 2001, Melissa has worked on various campaigns ranging from U.S. House to Governor; for the Republican Party of Iowa; for Victory Enterprises, a political consulting and marketing firm based in Davenport, Iowa; and Campaign Headquarters, a conservative call center in Brooklyn, Iowa. When “taking a break” from working in politics full time, Melissa managed Target Optical stores in Davenport and Urbandale, Iowa. Melissa volunteered her time as Campaign Chair, Social Media Chair, Webmaster, Vice President, and President of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women; Campaign Chair, Vice President, and President of the Scott County Republican Women; as well as Secretary and Women’s Outreach Coordinator of the Scott County Republicans. Melissa served as a faculty member in residence for Iowa N.E.W. Leadership at the University of Iowa in May 2016. Melissa has also volunteered for the American Red Cross of the Quad Cities Area, Quad Cities Chamber, Junior League of the Quad Cities, Junior League of Des Moines, Relay for Life of Poweshiek County, and OneSight – a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating the global vision care crisis. Melissa resigned from her role as President of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women in October 2016. She then joined the 50-50 in 2020 Board of Directors in November 2016 and served as its Executive Director from October 2018 through January 2020. 50-50 in 2020 was a 501c3 non-profit, non-partisan, issue neutral organization dedicated to achieving political equity for women in Iowa. When Melissa was considering the Executive Director contract position with 50-50 in 2020, she started her own business, Red Goose Solutions L.L.C. In addition to 50-50 in 2020, her client list includes Business and Professional Women of Iowa and the 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration Committee in Iowa. Melissa also works part-time at Barnes and Noble to help support her book habit. Melissa resides in Des Moines, Iowa, with her two rescue dogs: puggle Percy and corgi/chihuahua Gemma. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys taking road trips, organizing meetups and online discussions for her “Girl Power Book Club,” and spending time with her nephew and four nieces.

Amanda De Jong, State Executive Director, USDA Farm Services Agency

De Jong most recently held the position of Senior Policy Advisor at the Iowa Corn Growers Association, a position she assumed in 2011. She also served in prior roles with U.S. Senator Charles Grassley and the USDA. De Jong was raised on a corn and soybean farm in Dubuque County that has been in her family for 158 years. She earned degrees from Iowa State University College of Agriculture and the University of Iowa Law School.

Rachel Binning, Global Regulatory Leader-Soybeans, Corteva Agriscience

In her current role as a Global Regulatory Leader for oilseeds at Corteva Agriscience, Rachel is accountable for the development and successful implementation of regulatory strategy in support of global business objectives for oilseeds traits. Rachel has 18 years of experience in agriculture biotechnology where she has held positions focused on regulatory strategy, science advocacy, insect resistance management, environmental safety, and insect rearing. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Iowa Biotechnology Association. Rachel’s degrees include a Ph.D. and M.S. in Entomology from Iowa State University and a B.A. in Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Matt Vegter, Hertz Farm Management

Matt Vegter joined Hertz Farm Management and Real Estate Services in February of 2018 as a licensed real estate salesperson in the Nevada, Iowa office. He graduated from Central College in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Finance while obtaining a minor in Accounting.  During his time at Central College, Matt was a four-year member of the Men’s Golf Team.  Upon graduation, he went to work for Landus Cooperative in Central Iowa where he spent five years doing agronomy sales.  Matt grew up on a family farm in Morrison, Illinois and is actively involved in the operation today.  He and his wife, Natalie, live in Polk City, IA where Natalie is a 6th grade Science and Math teacher.

Elliott Siefert, Hertz Farm Management

Elliott Siefert joined Hertz Farm Management in January of 2019 as a licensed real estate salesperson in the Nevada, Iowa office. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Real Estate.  While attending UNI, Elliott had an internship with Principal Global Investors that helped him pursue his interest in Real Estate.  Elliott was also an active member of the Real Estate program known as Rho Epsilon which ended up being his way of meeting the Hertz family.  Since his start with Hertz, Elliott has become a member of the Realtors Land Institute. Elliott grew up in Marion, Iowa where his parents are residential Realtors which also helped to spark his interest in the Real Estate industry.  Currently, he resides in Ankeny.

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