74th NAFB Convention Speakers Information & Sessions



Convention Speakers

Wednesday, November 8

9:30 a.m.
Dr. Kevin Folta

Kevin M. Folta is a Professor and the Chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida.His strawberry research uses novel genomics approaches to identify genes related to flavor and disease resistance. His research also examines how parts of the light spectrum affect strawberry shelf life and flavor. He has been recognized as an expert in teaching scientists and ag professionals how to communicate topics in genetics and agricultural technology. He was recognized with the prestigious CAST Borlaug Award in Agricultural Communications in 2016.  

Communicating Concepts in Biotechnology to a Concerned Public
The use of genetic engineering (GE; familiarly ‘GMO’) in crop development has been helpful to agriculture, yet a public remains unsure of the technology. The use of GE crops increased with the use of the internet. Companies kept information about their innovations limited to the farmers that used them. Meanwhile, the public began to create its own image of what these crops were, along with associated narratives. Today the public does not know what to believe or who to trust. This leads to precautionary food choices, and slow deployment of good technology that helps farmers and can have environmental and developing world benefit. Scientists and ag professionals have not stepped into the discussion, and when they do, they do it incorrectly, potentially making a situation worse. In this presentation we’ll explore the counterintuitive techniques to engage someone concerned about food and farming, along with the right evidence to share to change hearts and minds. Whether at the Thanksgiving dinner table or on Twitter, these techniques will make you a better advocate for science and agriculture. 

1:45 p.m.
Mr. Howard G. Buffett
Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation

The afternoon session will be a Q& A discussion moderated by NAFB President, Max Armstrong

Howard G. Buffett is Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States. The foundation invests primarily in global food security and conflict mitigation. Mr. Buffett manages a 1,500-acre family farm in central Illinois and farms 400 acres in Nebraska. He oversees three foundation-operated research farms in Arizona, Illinois, and Nebraska totaling 9,670 acres and for 10 years was responsible for a 9,200 acre research farm in South Africa. Mr. Buffett oversees two ranches in Arizona and one farm in Texas, all three are situated on the U.S./Mexico border.

Mr. Buffett currently serves on the corporate board of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. He has served on the boards of Archer Daniels Midland, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., ConAgra Foods, Lindsay Corporation, Agro Tech Foods, and Sloan Implement. He has served in several senior executive positions and has served in elected office. Mr. Buffett is a former member of the Commission on Presidential Debates and has served as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Hunger on behalf of the World Food Programme. In 2000, he received the Aztec Eagle Award from the President of Mexico, the highest honor bestowed on a foreign citizen by the Government of Mexico, and in 2017, Mr. Buffett received the “Fe En La Causa” medal from the Colombian Government, the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian by the Colombian Military.
He has been honored over the years for his leadership and contributions to agriculture, conservation, philanthropy, and journalism; including the Will Owen Jones Distinguished Journalist of the Year Award.

Mr. Buffett serves as an Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff and Undersheriff in Macon County, Illinois and as a volunteer Deputy Commander in the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. In 2015, he was presented the National Sheriffs’ Association Medal of Merit for his support to the field of law enforcement & criminal justice. In 2016, he was named an honorary member of the National Sheriffs’ Association, and in 2017, he received the High Sheriff Award, the highest award presented by the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association. He has traveled to over 150 countries and authored eight books on conservation, wildlife, and the human condition, including the New York Times bestseller 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World. Mr. Buffett is the executive producer of Virunga, an award-winning and Academy Award-nominated documentary about Africa’s oldest national park.

3:15 p.m.
Karen Siebert
Advocacy and Public Policy Advisor, Harvesters—The Community Food Network

Karen Siebert is Advocacy and Public Policy Advisor for Harvesters, the regional food bank serving 26 counties in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri. Harvesters provides food and related household products to more than 620 nonprofit agencies, including food pantries, community kitchens and shelters, and is a member of Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks.

Karen educates about and advocates for the federal nutrition programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps), WIC and the school breakfast and lunch programs, as well as charitable solutions to food insecurity. Karen holds a bachelor’s degree from Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., and a master’s degree from the University of Kansas. She grew up on a farm in south central Kansas and comes from multiple generations of farmers and ranchers in Kansas and Nebraska. 




Friday, November 10


9:00 a.m.
Nathan Lawrence

10:00 a.m.
Chad Colby

Chad Colby is the founder and principal of Colby AgTech, where he works with progressive farmers, leading companies, and government agencies to provide deeper understanding of new technologies and recommendations on its practical applications. Cobly shares his knowledge and passion of agriculture by having one of the largest social media footprints in agriculture. Colby shares his ag technology expertise through speaking engagement in the U.S. and across the globe, as well as through his social media venues. He has been featured on CNBC and provides monthly report to TV program “This Week in Agribusiness” hosted by Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson. Chad is also the General Manager of Central Illinois Ag, a 5th generation Case IH dealership in Central Illinois. He resides in Goodfield, Illinois. 



11:00 a.m.
David Sheets

David Sheets is the owner of Stripes Marketing, a communications, public relations and marketing consulting firm headquartered in Indiana. He leads this work after more than three decades as a national award-winning communicator in the rural electric program. That cooperative work followed his years in the media, which began at age 12 on WKVI radio in Knox, Indiana. Dave served as a farm broadcaster at multiple stations including WCVL in Crawfordsville, Indiana, under the guidance of Joe Jarvis.

Dave has worked with many types of businesses to create communication plans and train employees on how to deal with a crisis. His media relations training programs have helped new and old professionals. His insight into both sides of this relationship makes him specially qualified to work with both groups.

If that crisis communication isn’t enough, he has spent more than 40 years working as a high school and college sports official. Dealing with irate coaches and fans makes working with an aggressive media a walk-in the park according to Dave.

Dave is most proud of his being named the H. E. Klinefelter Award Winner by the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA), recognizing him as the nation’s top cooperative communicator.

Dave and Susan, his wife, life in Shelbyville, Indiana.


Other Speakers


Jerry Haack
​Primal Leadership
One-on-One Personal Branding

Jerry Haack has been involved in sales and management for over 30 years, specializing in sales training, goal setting, market planning, media and advertising. He has the abilitiy to analyze a company's business climate and provide avenues that lead to passion and profitability by making your goals and objectives happen. His extensive background in sales and human relations, combined with his experience as a business owner, has given Haack the ability to successfully empower employees to "pick up the passion" so companies can reach their goals. As a certified executive life coach and leader trainer, Haack has an extremely competitive advantage and perspective in helping you "know" for yourself what it's going to take to continue to "get what you want."  Jerry now travels all over the United States putting on Leadership training workshops.

Participants in the Personal Branding Sessions are required to complete the Saboteur Assessment and Values Exercise before convention. Please print results and bring copies with you to your session with Jerry.