MEET OUR SPEAKERS

Matt Amos
Matt Amos
Blind Robot
Matt studied Mechanical Engineering at Butler and later went to Purdue to achieve his degree in Computer Graphics Technology. He's been working on Fortune 500 company development projects and applications for 11 years. Matt also loves to work on IoT projects in his free time.

Andy Andrews
Andy Andrews
You will recognize our special guest from his more than 200 appearances on national television. You might even recognize his voice. He has done more than 1,000 radio interviews. And while he is not a comedian, portions of his speeches are actually played on SiriusXM’s comedy channels—multiple times—every single day.

He is the author of more than 25 books that have been translated into more than 40 languages. Among those books are several New York Times bestsellers, including the modern-day classics:
The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer. On ABC’s Good Morning America, The Traveler’s Gift was named one of the “Five Books You Must Read In Your Lifetime.”

He has been to the White House on several occasions and has spoken at the request of four different presidents of the United States.

He coached our nation’s Special Operations Command for eight years and has been a part of nine College Football National Championship teams in a row. He works as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and sometimes, entire communities who hire him to create a starting point for extraordinary results.

A New York Times reporter recently wrote, “Andy Andrews has quietly become one of the most influential people in America.”

Beth Bechdol
Beth Bechdol
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Deputy Director-General
Beth Bechdol is Deputy Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In this role, she continues her service to food and agriculture – now on a global scale.

Ms. Bechdol is responsible for FAO’s Partnership and Outreach work, including Partnerships and UN Collaboration, Resource Mobilization and Private Sector Partnerships, South-South and Triangular Cooperation. She also leads programmes in the area of Plant Production and Protection and oversees FAO’s main technical advisory committee on agriculture, the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) as well as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat.

Before joining FAO, Ms. Bechdol was President and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana, the Midwestern state’s economic development initiative focused on advancing the agbioscience sector and developing 21s century talent. Prior to her leadership of AgriNovus, Ms. Bechdol was Director of agribusiness strategies at Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller LLP.

She also was the former Deputy Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

Ms. Bechdol’s dedication to public service in agriculture and her extensive trade and farm policy experience started in Washington, D.C. where she served in key roles as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as Economist on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Ms. Bechdol had significant roles on boards and commissions, including the National FFA Board of Trustees, the Purdue Research Foundation and the Farm Foundation Round Table.

Ms. Bechdol received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international law and international affairs, and completed her master’s degree at Purdue University in agricultural economics.

Marguerite Bolt
Marguerite Bolt
Purdue University Extension
Hemp Extension Specialist
Marguerite Bolt is the hemp Extension specialist at Purdue University in the Department of Agronomy. She received her M.S. in Entomology from Purdue University, and her B.S in Entomology from Michigan State University. Bolt’s research has focused on hemp-insect interactions and plant chemistry. She is interested in the secondary compounds that hemp produces and how they affect insect pests, although she has had to shift her focus to agronomic production questions surrounding hemp. Her position is new to Indiana and she is serving as a catalyst to link growers to production facilities and the research community through online resources, field days, and workshops.

Doug Hubner
Doug Hubner
Hubner Seed
Doug Hubner Business Manager for Hubner Seed and a member of the South and East Coast Regional Leadership Team for Bayer Crop Science. He began his career pushing a broom and pulling tassels like many in our industry before him. He is a 2005 Purdue University Graduate with a degree in Agronomic Business and Marketing. In 2010 he was awarded the Future Giant of the Seed Industry Award by Seed World Magazine. He has spent the last 15 years focused on building and developing an organization that delivers Innovative, personalized solutions that improve the profitability for eastern farmers. Through the focus of the Hubner Seed Team their business has grown to be the 3rd largest seed company in there Marketing Area.

Mark Kraft
Mark Kraft
ESCO GROUP
Mark Kraft is ESCO's Division Manager for the Seed and Seed Research markets. Along with many in the Midwest, Mark was raised on the family farm and has a deep connection with the Ag industry. His professional history includes various roles in project execution within seed facilities through business development roles in the technical solutions industry. Mark resides in a suburb in Des Moines with his wife of 24 years and his two boys.

Andrew LaVigne
Andrew LaVigne
American Seed Trade Association
President & CEO
Andrew W. LaVigne is currently the President and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association. He joined ASTA in February, 2006. Andy has had a 30-year career in government relations, industry representation, public affairs advocacy, and management. His core areas of expertise include agriculture, food policy and international trade.
Prior to joining ASTA, Andy was Executive Vice President/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, representing citrus growers on issues affecting their business. Previous to joining Florida Citrus Mutual, Andy spent four years as Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association’s (FFAA) President and Executive Director. FFAA is a non-profit, agricultural trade organization representing companies that specialize in crop protection and plant nutrition products.
Before his position at FFAA, Andy spent eight years in Washington, D.C. working in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He served as Legislative Director for Congressman Charles Canady, Agriculture Committee staffer for Congressman Tom Lewis, and on the staff of USDA Secretary Ed Madigan.
Andy is a native of Florida with a BA degree in Political Science, with a minor in economics, from the University of Florida.

Mark LeBlanc
Mark LeBlanc
OISC
Indiana State Chemist and Seed Commissioner
Mark LeBlanc was named as Indiana State Chemist and Seed Commissioner by Governor Eric Holcomb and Karen Plaut, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture on October 3, 2020. Most recently he served as head of the Division of Agricultural Chemistry at the Louisiana State University AgCenter.


LeBlanc previously held the position of assistant director of the horticulture and quarantine program for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in horticulture from Louisiana State University.

Dave Means
Dave Means
Oliver Manufacturing
Dave has been in the Seed business for 32 years, starting in 1989 with Garst Seed Company in Slater, Iowa. Beginning his career in research and development, he helped develop equipment for use in labs and in the field for collecting data on new hybrids in multiple crops including corn, soybeans, sorghum and many others. He has travelled throughout the US setting up equipment in both Research and Production sites. In 1996, Dave transitioned into managing the plant and field equipment maintenance for a parent seed plant. While there, he specialized in implementation and installation of electrical and mechanical updates used in processing, drying, material handling, conditioning, and packaging of seed. Dave has acquired the Iowa Master Electrician’s license and completed 25 years with Syngenta as the Plant Operations Manager. Following the closure of the plant in 2014, he began a career Oliver Manufacturing where he manages the service performed throughout the US and Canada on gravity separators, destoners, fluidized bed dryers, and sizers.

Monty Miller
Monty Miller
Context Network
Consultant
Monty Miller, Senior Associate, The Context Network
Dr. Miller has thirty years of experience in building and transforming organizations and cultures. He has worked from farm to pharmaceuticals, and from seed to crop protection in 16 countries.
— Designs change initiatives to align and enhance cultures to support achievement of new strategic initiatives.
— Develops organizational development strategies to align with future strategic initiatives
— Supports M&As in culture integrations
— Builds durable strategic alliances and joint ventures
— Enhances organizational leadership capacity
— Develops contributions competency attainment
— Facilitated strategic planning
— Provides executive coaching to key leaders to support strategy execution to culture enhancement
— Education & Certification:
• EdD Organizational Change, Pepperdine University
• MBA, Food Marketing, Colorado State University
• BS, Farm and Ranch Management – Colorado State University

Doug Miller
Doug Miller
Illinois Crop Improvement Association, Inc.
CEO
CEO Doug Miller joined Illinois Crop in 1994 as Illinois Crop’s first Greenhouse Supervisor. Miller is a Registered Genetic Technologist and holds a Masters degree in Plant Pathology with an emphasis in genetics from Kansas State University. He is a past president of the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists and has served on the genetic technology board of examiners

Karen Plaut
Karen Plaut
Purdue University
Glenn W. Sample Dean, College of Agriculture
As dean, Dr. Plaut is responsible for administering academic programs in the College of Agriculture, the Indiana Agricultural Experiment Station, the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service and a number of state regulatory services. In addition to her administrative role, Dr. Plaut is also Professor of Animal Sciences and has an active research program in mammary gland biology. Prior to her appointment as dean, she was Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs in the College of Agriculture.

Dr. Plaut received her B.S. in animal science from the University of Vermont, an M.S. in animal nutrition from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in animal science from Cornell University. Her postdoctoral studies were completed at the National Cancer Institute at NIH. Before coming to Purdue she was on faculty at the University of Vermont and Michigan State University serving as Chair of the Department of Animal Sciences at both institutions. She also spent a few years working with NASA as Lead Scientist for the International Space Station.

Don Robison
Don Robison
Office of Indiana State Chemist
Seed Administrator
Don Robison has been in the seed business for over 30 years. From a family seed dealership to executive positions at large seed companies, he has filled almost every role available in the agricultural and lawn seed industry. Growing up on the family farm helped to instill a strong work ethic and a penchant for testing and research. The Robison family were early innovators into the no-till world, starting in the early 1970’s. Don and his dad Bob and brother Dave were equally as early into utilizing cover crops and cover crop research. In 2016 Don took on the role of Seed Administrator at the Office of Indiana State Chemist. This role includes the seed regulation, the Indiana State Seed Lab, microorganisms and hemp regulation. He currently sits on the boards for the Association of American Seed Control Officials (AASCO), Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA), Indiana Certified Crop Adviser Program and as an Ex-Officio Board Member of the Agribusiness Council of Indiana.

Brett Sciotto
Brett Sciotto
Aimpoint Research
President & CEO
A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a former Army Intelligence Officer, President & CEO Brett Sciotto brings a practical, results-oriented approach to the civilian business world. His training in and emphasis on mission-critical information gathering and targeted research methodology make him unique in his approach to problem solving in a corporate environment. Sciotto’s disciplined, vetted approach to research is coupled with his military precision in detailed analysis and final presentation to his clients. With nearly two decades of research expertise, Brett has had tremendous success advising corporate leaders, government officials and state and national organizations at all levels.

Keni Thomas
Keni Thomas
As a member of Bravo Company of the 3rd Ranger Battalion Sgt Keni Thomas was deployed to Mogadishu Somalia as part of a special operations package called Tasked Force Ranger. Their mission was to find and capture a criminal warlord named Mohammed Farrah Aideed. Outnumbered 10 to 1, the men of TFR distinguished themselves in an 18-hour fire fight that would later be recounted in the highly successful book and movie Blackhawk Down. 19 Americans died and 78 were wounded. 
Keni got out of the Army to pursue his music career and now works full time as an award winning Nashville recording artist. His band Cornbread was featured in the movie Sweet Home Alabama and regularly tours with the USO to perform for our military personnel serving in the Middle East. As an entertainer, Keni has been recognized by congress, the White House, and was recently inducted into the VFW Hall of Fame for his dedicated work on behalf of our veterans and military families. 
Keni is also very proud to be a national spokesperson for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation which provides college educations to the children of our special operations personnel killed in combat or training. 
Keni Thomas is a graduate of the University of Florida, a recipient of the American Patriot Award and the Bronze Star for Valor.

Jody Trevathan
Jody Trevathan
AgReliant Genetics
Jody was raised on a family farm in the Bootheel of Missouri. After high school he served as a US Marine for four years. After leaving the Corps and working at an Ag Research Facility for one year back in Missouri. Jody pursued a career in the Oil & Gas industry, this is where he started down the path of a Health, Safety, Security, & Environmental Professional. Jody has spent the last 15 years working all over the country in Oil & Gas, Construction and Agriculture. He has had the opportunity to work with many companies both large and small as well as many people from all over the world. His experiences have taught him that people generally want to be safe. We just need to give them a new approach to safety that they can buy into.

Daniel F. Voytas
Daniel F. Voytas
Calyxt
Professor
EDUCATION

Institution: Harvard University
Degree: A.B.
Year: 1984
Major: Biology


Institution: Harvard Medical School
Mentor: F. Ausubel
Degree: Ph. D.
Year: 1990
Major: Genetics


Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Mentor: J. Boeke
Degree: Post-Doc
Year: 1991-92
Major: Molecular Genetics

Paul Watson
Paul Watson
Context Network
Principal
Paul Watson, Principal, The Context Network
Paul has a diverse background in investment analysis, strategy development and project management. Paul brings a broad range of experience from the financial and life sciences industries to consulting projects. Prior to Context Paul was an investment consultant at Summit Strategies where he evaluated private equity and real assets opportunities for pension and endowments clients. Paul also worked on Monsanto’s Corporate Strategy team with a primary focus on Mergers & Acquisitions. Earlier in his career, Paul was a stock analyst at A.G. Edwards following Biotechnology and Health Care stocks. Paul was a Principal Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers focused on life sciences.
His areas of focus include:
— Strategy development and financial forecasting
— Investment opportunity evaluation
— Mergers and acquisitions valuation and analysis
— Market opportunity assessments for new technologies
— Competitive intelligence and market analysis
— Agriculture development
— Private equity and real assets investment evaluation
— Education & Certification:
• MBA, Washington University in St. Louis
• BA, Computer Science, DePauw University

Bryan Young
Bryan Young
Purdue University
Professor of Weed Science
Bryan Young is a Professor of Weed Science in the department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University. Bryan earned his bachelor’s degree in crop and soil science at Michigan State University and doctorate in crop science (specialization in weed science) from the University of Illinois. Bryan has held an academic appointment with teaching, research, and outreach activities for over 22 years. Bryan’s research and education at Purdue focuses on weed biology and ecology, herbicide application technology, and characterizing herbicide resistance in weeds. His goal is to bridge the basic and applied aspects of weed management research to improve weed management recommendations for crop producers and land managers.

Calvin Young
Calvin Young
Context Network
Consultant
Calvin Young, Business Analyst, The Context Network
Calvin provides business, market and financial analysis support to client projects across the ag value chain as a Senior Analyst at Context. Project areas, to date include inputs, animal ag, agtech and investments. His background is based in strategic management and finance concentrations with focus areas including financial forecasting, data analysis, competitive strategy and risk management. His work at Context has included:
― Project management
― Financial modeling
— Data compilation and analysis
— Market research
— Competitive profiling and market analysis
— Culture analysis and strategy
— Education & Certification:
• BS in Economics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
• Currently pursuing MBA at Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis