Your Farm. Your Future.


Check back later for information on the 2018 speakers.

2017 Speakers

Ashley Autenrieth, Michigan DNR

Ashley has been the Deer Program Biologist for the Department of Natural Resources for the past five years. She oversees policy and regulations for all deer management related topics for both the Northern Lower and Upper Peninsula. Ashley has a Master’s of Science in Forestry from Michigan Technological University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of California, Davis. She and her husband have a small farm just outside of Gaylord where they raise organic beef, chicken and pork.

Kim Bremmer, Ag Inspirations

Kim grew up as a farm girl, graduated from UW-Madison and was a dairy nutritionist for almost 15 years. Her true passion is sharing the REAL story of agriculture with everyday consumers. Kim is the Wisconsin State Coordinator for Common Ground, a national movement of farm women who share information about farming and the food we grow as well as a regular contributor on Rural Route Radio and President of Wisconsin Women for Agriculture.

Elaine Bristol, Michigan Ag Council

Elaine works full-time for the Michigan Ag Council to connect consumers to their source of Michigan food and agriculture. She previously worked for the American Farm Bureau Federation after graduating from Michigan State University. In her spare time, she works on her parents' sheep farm in Ogemaw County.

Dr. Martin Chilvers, Michigan State University

Dr. Chilvers works on disease management issues for soybeans, wheat and corn. His areas of expertise include fungal biology, epidemiology, fungal genetics, and host-pathogen interactions. He has been instrumental at Michigan State University’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences on current and emerging issues.

Chad Colby, Colby AgTECH

Chad is an Illinois farm kid who has grown up to be a respected technology geek. He is sought out for his ability to look at current and emerging technologies and their practical applications on the farm. He is also a leading advocate for unmanned aerial systems use in agriculture. 

James DeDecker, Michigan State University

James is an Agriculture Educator with Michigan State University Extension, based in Presque Isle County and responsible for field crop outreach across eleven counties in Northeast Lower Michigan. Since joining MSU Extension in 2012, he has drawn on his background in crop production, integrated pest management and the human dimensions of natural systems to serve Michigan producers and agribusiness through partnership building, on-farm research and educational programming.

Bryan Doherty, Stewart-Peterson

Bryan is a member of the Stewart-Peterson leadership committee. He grew up on a farm in southeastern Wisconsin and earned his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  Bryan has 27 years of experience working in the market and he provides expert counsel to farmers looking to protect commodity prices and take advantage of market opportunities while minimizing future risks.

Jay Drozd, Farmer from Allegan

Drozd Farms in Allegan is run by bothers Jay and Jon. They grow over 8,000 acres of corn and soybeans in Allegan, Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties.  They are sales representatives for Pioneer, a business their dad started in 1946. They will be sharing their experiences with variable seeding rates.


Pat Feldpausch, Farmer from Fowler

Pat started farming in 1984 with his father in Fowler. In 1992 he became sole owner of Pat Feldpausch Farms which consists of a cash crops, corn, soybeans and wheat; custom farming and seed sales. Pat integrates all aspects of tillage, no-till, cover crops and prescriptions for seeding, fertility and nitrogen into his operation. Also, being surrounded by dairy farms gives him the opportunity to utilize trading straw for manure to use as fertilizer on his land. Pat along with his wife Becky and three sons continue to operate and incorporate new technology into the farm every day.

Monique Ferris, Michigan DNR

Monique joined the DNR Wildlife Division in March as the HAP Coordinator. She has expanded HAP into the northern lower peninsula using a USDA grant supporting public access and manages habitat projects. Before this, she worked as a Farm Bill Biologist for the conservation districts where she brought technical assistance and habitat funding to private landowners while partnering with conservation groups and managing wildlife habitat grants. She has a Master’s in Ecology and Organismal Biology.

Dr. Kevin Folta, Univiversity of Florida

Kevin is well respected for blending his genomics research with a keen ability to communicate science to the public.  He contributes to the website and is an avid blogger on scientific and agricultural issues. His research explores the interplay between genetics, the environment, plant productivity and quality. 

Dr. John Fulton, Ohio State University

John is an Associate Professor in the Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department at the Ohio State University.  His research focuses on machinery automation and developing technologies to accurately place and meet site-specific crop and soil needs.  His extension efforts have been devoted to the ways precision ag technology and data can help improve the farm business and in-season decisions.

Bill Hunt, Farmer from Davison

Bill owns and operates Hunt Farms, Inc. an 11,000 acre cash crop farm raising corn, wheat and soybeans.  Bill fuels his passion for agriculture by serving on numerous ag-related boards and committees.  He has devoted much of his time to educate himself and other producers on various issues impacting agriculture today.  He uses trial plots and research data to assist in making nutrient management decisions that will maximize yields and increase profits.

Becky Huttenga, Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator

Becky is the Outreach Specialist for the Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator and the Economic Development Coordinator for Ottawa County. She currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the Careerline Tech Center's Ag and Environmental Science Program and as an Ottawa Conservation District volunteer. Her Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science from Michigan State University combined with her diverse career experiences, including Executive Director of the Ottawa Conservation District and Program Coordinator for MSU Extension, have brought her to her current roles. 

Dr. Dale Ireland, Syngenta

Dale Ireland is the Technical Product Lead in Seedcare for U.S. Soybean and Corn. He plays an instrumental role in profiling active ingredients for disease, insect and nematode protection utility and competitive advantage, and product segmentation as well as resistance management. He has field experience from his previous roles as a crop consultant and research scientist in industry, including internationally.  He holds degrees from Texas A&M and Iowa State University and currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Tim Kruithoff, Farmer from Kent City

Tim started farming with his father and now continues the farm with his wife and three children.  With their son Justin, they manage 2,400 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. They also raise wean to finish hogs and feed out steers. Tim is active on the Kent County Farm Bureau and Kent City School boards and on the Michigan Pork Producers board of directors. He has been working on variable seeding of both corn and soybeans.

Mike Mock, Mock Consulting LLC

Mike’s influence has reached both consumer and producer clientele across the country.  He began by working summers during high school for The Andersons farm and ended up retiring after a 40 year career with The Andersons in Maumee.  His responsibilities have spanned from grain buyer to senior risk manager for the grain division, to a daily market update but the most rewarding part of his job was helping growers with their risk management plans. He continues to encourage farmers to blend a high quality crop insurance policy with a diversified marketing approach through his newly formed ag consulting service. Mike has a degree from University of Toledo in Logistics. 

Martin Nagelkirk, MSU Extension

Martin has served as the MSU Extension Educator in Michigan’s Thumb region for many years and specializes in supporting Michigan’s wheat industry statewide, by conducting practical field research and educational programs.

Dennis Pennington, MSU Extension

Dennis is the wheat systems specialist at Michigan State University. In partnership with the Michigan Wheat Program, Dennis conducts research and extension programming aimed at helping wheat farmers increase yields, manage diseases, reduce inputs, improve environmental sustainability and maximize profits.

Greg Peterson, Peterson Farm Brothers

Greg is a graduate of Kansas State University where he majored in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. He grew up and still works on his family farm near Assaria, KS with his parents, 2 brothers, and sister. Greg and his brothers create YouTube videos about farming that together have received over 40 million views. The videos have given Greg and his brothers many opportunities around the country and the world to talk about agriculture and he is passionate about the future of the industry.

Jeff Schluckbier, Farmer from Vassar

Jeff, Marty Zwerk and Dave Rupprecht are Zwerk and Sons Farms from Vassar, Michigan.  They farm 7,500 acres of corn, wheat, sugar beets and dry beans in Tuscola, Sanilac and Saginaw counties.  Jeff will be discussing his experiences with variable rate corn seed and fertilizer. 

Stephanie Smith, 360 Yield Center

Stephanie has worked for Monsanto for 3 years as a Technology Development Representative in Iowa and Illinois as well as a product manager in St. Louis. She also worked as a Field Agronomist for DuPont Pioneer in NE Indiana for two years. Two years ago she became regional agronomy manager with 360 Yield Center, covering MI, IN, NY and Canada.  Stephanie completed her MS from Michigan State University in Crop and Soil Sciences and farms with her family in Hillsdale County. 

Zach Snider, Farmer from Hart

Zack farms in Hart along with his wife and parents. They grow 2,700 acres of corn, soybean and wheat. They rent most of their ground on sandy soils in the fruit and vegetable belt, and have utilized variable rate seeding since 2010 to maximize the potential on every acre. They also have a 170,000 tom turkeys and 600 sows in a breeding to farrow operation. 

Dr. Kurt Steinke, Michigan State University

Kurt came from Texas A&M University and is an Assistant Professor of Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University. He received a B.S. in Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His current responsibilities include soil fertility and nutrient management strategies across agricultural production systems and understanding nutrient interactions and their effects on soil and plant communities to improve both water and nutrient management.

Sam Willett, National Corn Growers Association

Sam has been with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) since 2001. As Senior Director of Public Policy, he is responsible for representing NCGA on farm and rural development programs, federal crop insurance, tax policy and agriculture homeland security issues. Sam is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and received his Master’s degree from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky.

Tim Wilson, USDA Wildlife Services

Tim Wilson has been with USDA Wildlife Services since 2001 and is currently a District Supervisor.  His responsibilities include coordinating projects associated with wildlife hazards at airports, starling control on dairy farms, urban deer removal, feral swine removal, and double-crested cormorant control in the Great Lakes.  He received a BS in Fisheries & Wildlife from Michigan State University and a MS in Wildlife Ecology from Mississippi State University.

John Whittaker, Ag Consultant

As a British native, John brings a global perspective to wheat production. His career includes working on a large farm to agronomic advising at two major UK retailers. He was lead Agronomist for Koch Ag in Idaho overseeing 50,000 acres of hard red spring and soft white wheat headed for flour.  John set up Northern Star Integrated in 2000 when he moved to Michigan. He developed the company into a specialist wheat seed production company with strategic partners throughout the Midwest and Northern plains supplying some of the major national seed companies with all their wheat seed needs, including Croplan.  Recently retiring from this, he continues to share his expertise with producers. 

AJ Woodyard, BASF

AJ was born and raised on a corn and soybean operation in East Central, Illinois. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in Crop Sciences, and completed his Master’s degree at the University of Illinois concentrating in Weed Science.  Upon graduation, he started working with BASF as a technical service representative.  He then transitioned into a new position within BASF as technical crop production specialist.  Efforts in this role are aimed at working with industry and growers to lead research trials for maximizing corn and soybean yields.

George Zmitko, Farmer from Owosso

George has owned and operated Zmitko Farms, LLC in Owosso, Michigan since 1971. Along with his son and employees, they raise over 7,500 acres of soybeans, wheat, corn, oats, barley, alfalfa, and June clover seed. Part of their production is grown, harvested, processed, and sold on his farm as certified seed. They also have 300 beef cattle. George has served on the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Michigan Crop Improvement Association’s Board of Directors and the Shiawassee County Farm Service Agency.

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2018 Great Lakes Crop Summit - January 31 - February 1, 2018

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