2020 AgGrad 30 Under 30

Page 1

30 Under 30 in Agriculture RISING LEADERS IN Production Technology & Innovation Entrepreneurship Advocacy & Education Agribusiness Sustainability & Food Security

LETTER FROM THE AUTHOR I am so pleased to introduce you to our second cohort of the 30 Under 30 in agriculture! We at AgGrad launched this program to celebrate the up-and-comers and people that the agriculture community should know they’re the future executives and influencers to watch in the agribusiness community and beyond. In the following pages, you will find farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, innovators, advocates, and those climbing the corporate ladder. In order to capture the breadth and diversity of the agriculture industry, we have separated winners into six categories: Production, Innovation/Technology, Entrepreneurship, Education/ Advocacy, Sustainability/Food Security, and Agribusiness. This publication is organized by category, and I encourage you to explore them all. Winners were selected from a large pool of candidates who were nominated by their peers. Industry leaders reviewed the finalists and ultimately selected this cohort of AgGrad 30 Under 30. Criteria for selection included career advancement, contribution to the agriculture industry, character, and community engagement. In addition to being featured in this publication, winners have been interviewed on


30 Under 30 in Agriculture

the AgGrad Podcast, and featured on the AgGrad blog. Visit www.AgGrad.com for more information on these 30 impressive individuals. AgGrad provides career resources for agricultural professionals. This program speaks directly to our mission to help people find their place in modern agriculture. My hope is that you will be inspired by these profiles of agricultural leadership. Their talent, ambition, and accomplishments prove that the future of agriculture is in great hands. Perhaps you will find a future customer, collaborator, business partner, or co-worker. Whatever the case, these are 30 people you should know as they take over

as leaders in the agriculture industry. To me, the best part of working in agriculture has always been the people. I can think of no better way to promote this industry than to share the outstanding people who work in ag. This program has already inspired other young agriculturalists, and encouraged industry veterans to be optimistic about the next generation. Do you know someone who belongs on this list? Nominate them for the next class of AgGrad 30 Under 30 by going to 30under30.ag. Sincerely, Tim Hammerich Founder of AgGrad

JUDGES Thank you to all of the AgGrad 30 Under 30 in Agriculture judges!

Aidan Connolly JJ Jones Janette Barnard Brian Hogue Ryan Tipps Warren Clark

Sarah Nolet Joel Harris Jonathan Hua Mitchell Yerxa Chad Etheridge Connie Bowen

Abbey Wick Fatma Kaplan Renee Vassilos Ron Jones Janice Person

30 Under 30 in Agriculture


PRODUCTION When most people think of farmers and ranchers, the first image that comes to mind usually isn’t someone in their 20s. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the average age of American farmers and ranchers is 58. However, you’re about to meet some impressive producers under the age of 30 who are bucking the trend. All of the other categories are built upon production agriculture. The success of our food system is dependent on the success of our farmers and ranchers. But farming is not an act of community service. These agricultural professionals are operating sizable businesses in an environment where many factors such as weather and commodity prices are out of their control. In this section, you’ll be introduced to farmers and ranchers who are blending the traditions of their way of life with modern business and science innovations. This allows them to remain relevant and viable in today’s complex agricultural marketplace.


30 Under 30 in Agriculture

BROOKE BEAM Dr. Brooke Beam is a multi-faceted member of the agricultural industry who is involved as both a farmer and Extension educator. Dr Beam is a seventh-generation grain farmer located in southwest Ohio. Pursuing a private pilot license, she utilizes precision agriculture and aviation technologies to evaluate field conditions throughout the growing season. She is revamping the future of Extension through her work in outreach as a weekly Farm Show host and producer on Youtube. She also produces the Germinate International Film Festival. In graduate school at The OSU, Dr. Beam dove headfirst into film courses and began to ask questions about the representation of agriculture in film. After spending an internship with a major motion picture that was sourcing for filming locations without any real knowledge of agriculture, she began looking deeper into how the industry was represented in films. Dr. Beam did analysis studies on target audiences while directing her first documentary about agriculture to discover that millennials trust the farmer first when it comes to stories about agriculture. This led her to understand the importance of film in agriculture and how it can cover the distance between big cities

EXTENSION EDUCATOR OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION SABINA, OHIO and rural communities. Working through her Extension position, she has founded and produced the Germinate International Film Festival in Ohio. One of a handful of agriculture-based film festivals in North America, it provided an outlet for a variety of agriculture films to be showcased over the two-day event. The culmination being the screening of a pollinator film, held with a completely locally-sourced dinner at a local orchard.

Whether it’s working with her Extension leadership program, farming on her farm, producing the farm show or working on the Germinate International Film Festival - Dr. Beam is always busy. Staying active in her passions of communications, leadership and film in the agriculture industry has allowed her to grow in her career, connect more opportunities for those around her and change the future of film in agriculture.

30 Under 30 in Agriculture



HEAD GROWER PLENTY SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA After growing up on a diverse fifth generation vegetable farm in western New York, Casey Call says the “timing of my college career with ag tech and precision ag kind of manifested and it was in line with everything I had seen growing up - it was a natural progression for me!” Advised by his father to “go out into the world, get some work experience, put a good head on your shoulders,” and be


30 Under 30 in Agriculture

accountable to someone that wasn’t him to prove his worth and merit - Casey did just that. Upon graduation, Casey built an impressive resume to position himself with a collection of skills. Working for a variety of companies while young in his career, Casey says that two years isn’t that long at a company. “Meet the people, do the work, and I guarantee you aren’t going to hate it as much as you think you will. There is

value in any work, as long as you commit yourself to it.” As the head grower at Plenty Ag, Casey’s job revolves around precision agriculture, ag technology, agronomy, and farming. Working completely indoors, he controls all inputs to the crops that they are growing. Density, thermodynamics, robots, softwares, mathematical equations and engineering are all aspects he has to handle every day. Unlike with production farming, where you worry about what you can’t control, Casey is forced to worry about what he can control; if there is a mistake, there’s no one to blame but himself. With indoor farming on the forefront of production agriculture’s horizon, Casey hopes that company’s like Plenty Ag will continue to promote the bigger scope of farming - that it isn’t just being out in the field. A revamp to agricultural engineering and the addition to agronomy in educational courses will help build the next generation to agriculture to the next level of production and efficiency.

JESSE JAMES WIGGINS A charismatic leader that isn’t afraid to jump in front of a camera or onto a radio interviewer, Jesse James Wiggins is the epitome of new blood in the fresh produce industry. Located in east Texas, Jesse is a fifth-generation watermelon farmer who is one of only eleven 18 to 36 year-old’s actively farming their own small operation of watermelons. Two others in that number are family members of his, making the Wiggins’ family representative of a third of the Texas young watermelon farmers. The National Watermelon Board consists of an equal number of producer and handler representatives that are nominated by watermelon producers and handlers around the nation. Today, there are seven geographic districts in the contiguous states of the United States. Each of the districts is represented by two producers and two handler members on the Board. There is also always one representative of importers on the board. Jesse was named the president of the board since 2017, he is both the youngest and longest running president for the promotions board. The Wiggins name is already known as one of

PRODUCER WIGGINS FARMS CENTER, TEXAS quality in the Texas region and beyond, and Jesse has continued to ensure that things like innovation, progress and consistency will continue with the brand. As a part of that, Jesse always makes sure to take time to build and maintain relationships with those he’s met within his own region and abroad. Whether swinging through town on chance or a planned visit, he always makes sure to reach out to his connections to

meet up. Jesse is a true advocate for fresh produce and the specialty crop market as a whole and is proof that new ideas can be merged into old traditions for a hybrid vigor for the future. He continues to encourage other youth to not only get involved in the produce industry, but is also extremely active in his community to promote youth involvement in career development. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



OPERATIONS TEAM LEADER & MANAGER OF STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT TONY L. LOPES DAIRY L.P. GUSTINE, CALIFORNIA As a fourth-generation dairy farmer on both sides of his family, Tony Lopes has always had a passion for the dairy industry and knew that he would be involved in some capacity. To what though, he wasn’t sure about and it took a variety of internships and hands-on learning prior to returning to the family farm to help ensure he made the most of the generational-family business opportunity he had. Immediately joining the family business, Tony L. Lopes


30 Under 30 in Agriculture

Dairy L.P., after graduation from CalPoly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in dairy science, Tony has embraced management and leadership positions both within the family business and within the California dairy industry. Leaning on his research, internships and education, Tony is focused on optimization and a strong working team within their business. He does so by showing up first and being the

last to leave, knowing every employee by name, and going above and beyond to create a welcoming environment. As employees have recognized his authenticity and care for them, they, in turn, care about him and his unique plans for dairy optimization. Redesigning and reengineering nearly every component of their family business, specifically the feedyard, Tony focused on cleaning up the data they were recording. Through disciplined and consistent data reporting, they have been able to optimize software programs they were already utilizing in the dairy for more than just one component. Clean data means they can analyze yearend reports and use predictive analytics to create potential future stories. The dairy industry and California agriculture are some of the most regulated spaces within their respective industries. By optimizing data and keeping it clean, Tony finds himself digging deeper into software and technology that can improve their business to match the regulations that consumers are voting towards. Utilizing this information and applying it in predictive cases is how Tony plans to keep the dairy industry moving forward and keeping his family’s livelihood in California.

TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION Agriculture is changing more rapidly than ever. Biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and other innovations are enabling our food system to adapt to consumer preferences and priorities. New technology is leading to new paradigms about what is possible. These innovations are answering the question of “how can we produce more while using less?”. AgTech has attracted billions of investment dollars to improve or even disrupt the agriculture industry. The attractiveness of the sector is in its size, importance, and relative lack of digitization historically. However, researchers and technologists like those in the following pages are altering how food is produced, processed, and consumed. In this section, you will find innovators bringing technology and new ideas to agricultural producers and consumers. These individuals are passionate about finding new ways to make the food system work better for all involved.

30 Under 30 in Agriculture



CUSTOMER SUPPORT ENGINEER JOHN DEERE URBANDALE, IOWA If it wasn’t for an FFA teacher and her professors at Purdue University, Alacyn Cox knows that she wouldn’t be where she is today working as a part of John Deere’s Intelligence Solutions Group. With a love for the community built around the agricultural industry, Alacyn joined FFA her junior year in high school which opened her eyes to the many facets of the agriculture industry. She 10

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

made it a goal to work at John Deere while still in high school. That dream came true in the form of an internship the summer after her sophomore year at Purdue. Alacyn returned for a second internship and then later to start her career. She has been in five roles in five years, constantly growing and thriving within the positive employee culture of John Deere. Capitalizing on the encouragement of

John Deere’s employee culture to be involved, Alacyn was interviewed and chosen to be a chapter consultant for the professional agricultural sorority Sigma Alpha as part of their National Leadership Team. Giving back to organizations that impacted you and mentoring others is something that Alacyn encourages any young professional to offer their services in. Alacyn worked hard to earn her MBA. In doing that, she has involved herself in local community groups, John Deere volunteer groups, and engrossed herself in her new role each time she moves. Being as “smart as the literature” is something that she takes seriously as she works with Machine Sync, an autonomy application that allows the tractor to drive under the unloading auger of a combine while matching its speed and direction of travel. She is sure to be familiar with every aspect in order to assist customers and dealers with any issues or questions that they may have in regards to the product. Compassionate and a great public speaker, Alacyn hopes to continue mentoring others.

ALIKA CHUCK The mechanisms and technical skill of Pharm Robotics, an agtech startup dedicated to improving efficiencies in the dairy industry, is impressive, but not nearly as impressive as it’s co-founder and CFO Alika Chuck. Coming from a world outside of agriculture and the dairy industry, one would assume Alika was well versed in robotics. He wasn’t. With no background in either side of the industry, Alika proves that interest, passion, dedication to building authentic relationships and a tenacity to learn can take your business ideas to the next level. After taking a job on a family friend’s dairy, Alika found that he was extremely passionate about the dairy industry and agriculture. As someone who started on the outside looking in, he has had a unique opportunity to see the perspectives of not only the dairy industry, but agriculture as a whole to those that are not involved in the day-to-day. “People just need to read the facts at the end of the day,” says Alika. “A lot of this is just commercialized marketing that people don’t truly understand dairy products, animal welfare, or the actual impacts of animals on the environment in terms of agricultural animals. Ultimately, what I have learned, is there is a lot of truth that people aren’t seeing. Make sure

CFO & CO-FOUNDER PHARM ROBOTICS, LLC. SAN JACINTO, CALIFORNIA to fact check before you make any claims on products given to animals or how animals are treated.” Alika’s tips for using resources to learn about new endeavors, whether it be an agricultural industry or robotics, are: • Read on Google Scholar • Pick up new skills that have a strong future in agriculture (i.e. computer programming) • Join accelerator programs

• Research YouTube channels for anything you want to learn • Take online courses to help master different aspects At 22 years old, Alika is writing grants, business plans, patents, and building robots with little to no industry experience prior to starting this endeavor. With huge goals, a strong work ethic and an efficiency in his day-to-day, Alika is chasing his goals and changing the dairy industry for the better. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



CEO & FOUNDER THE BEE CORP BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA Ellie Symes never considered that she’d be an entrepreneur when she first set foot on campus at Indiana University Bloomington. That all changed when she followed a passion in beekeeping by starting a beekeeping club. Joining her future co-founder of The Bee Corp, they were first encouraged by the IU Foundation to explore future career opportunities with their beekeeping research. They then won a business competition, founded their business as a B 12

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

Corp, and won a grant from the National Science Foundation. Four years later and the research that Ellie and her co-founder, Wyatt, organized has resulted in a variety of beekeeping technology products - specifically VERIFLI. The Bee Corp introduces sensor monitoring and data-analytics to the beekeeping community through decision-supported software - providing beekeepers with a service to monitor hive health in real-time, gain insights on hive management methods,

and optimize operational efficiency. This agtech provides for added trust through the removal of human assessment between beekeepers, whose livelihood depends on pollination season, and the growers, who rely on the beekeeper to bring the correct number of hives to pollinate their fields and orchards. Ellie’s involvement in an extracurricular club gave her the opportunity to chase her passion in the bee industry and to also help solve environmental factors. As someone who thrives on fast pace and has her eye on the prize, Ellie finished her undergraduate degree, started her masters and formed The Bee Corp all within the same year. Recognizing the opportunity they had in the bee industry to help solve agricultural inefficiencies and problems, she moved her masters program to part-time in order to start The Bee Corp successfully. Continuing to sprint towards their revenue goals and their research and development goals, The Bee Corp has been recognized by several groups for their technological breakthroughs in agritech. They were recognized as the winner of the Indiana Small Business Development Center’s Small Business Impact Award for 2018.

TYLER MCGEE Tyler McGee’s passion for helping farmers and agriculture can be traced back to his roots working on his family farm in Montana. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems in 2012, he went on to pursue his Masters of Agribusiness at Texas A&M University. Upon graduation, he spent six years with Syngenta working first as a graduate program member and technology architect then moving through the ranks to serve as Digital Innovator. Building the connection between the Digital Agriculture team and the Digital Data & Analytics team, his passion for ag tech and startups developed. In 2018, Tyler bridged out on his own to form Tycom, Inc., a software company dedicated to building tools and platforms to help growers grow more food, better food, and with less impact on the environment by utilizing powerful technologies in new ways. One such new way is through their new tool, Shepherd Farming, a platform founded to solve the growing issues around ag labor. As technology got more

CEO & FOUNDER TYCOM, INC. RALEIGH-DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA efficient and advanced, Tyler realized that the cost of ag labor was going up. By communicating between the two platforms, ag labor and automated ag technologies, there were newfound opportunities realized in farming efficiencies to be obtained. With an interest in digital agriculture forming long before the industry found its foothold, Tyler has had the amazing opportunity to grow as

the industry grows. This gives him an unusually unique ability to spot new trends, incorporate already existing technologies from other industries to create agricultural efficiencies and more. His company will continue to build their current tools, creating new updates to continuously improve the user experience, and to also begin answering more agricultural issues with digital ag solutions. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture


ENTREPRENEURSHIP This is a very exciting time to be in agriculture. Investment capital and technological innovations are enabling an ecosystem that is producing the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs. Many tech startups are founded by young entrepreneurs. Why not agriculture? Many believe the investment in agricultural startups is still in the early days, despite the billions that have been invested in the past six years. Investors need savvy, daring, and strategic entrepreneurs to rise up to solve food system challenges. Those entrepreneurs are going to need the resources of incubators, advisors, and other capacity builders to equip them with the tools needed for the challenging entrepreneurial journey. In this section, you will meet impressive entrepreneurs and those leading the agtech ecosystem. These entrepreneurs see the world for what it could be, instead of simply what it has been.


30 Under 30 in Agriculture

DAVID CHAN When most of his peers were watching Saturday morning cartoons, you could find David Chan glued to the weather channel. Growing up in Hudson Valley, New York, David was privy to all the wonders of Mother Nature’s wrath, whether it be blizzards, tornadoes, or drought! Picking his major around weather was an easy decision but options were limited when it came to coursework. He graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Atmospheric Science and Applied Economics and Management. He rounded out his education with a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. “I went into the program with a genuine curiosity in science,” says David. “As I started to learn more about the underlying principles ... conducted my own research, and read on others, I became interested in climate change.” That growing interest led him to FarmTogether, a technology-enabled farmland investment platform that provides investors with direct assets to farmland as an asset class. With a diverse team under its name and over 70 years of combined experience in agribusiness, investments, and climatology, they carefully curate farmland properties that they themselves would invest in for their investors. Farm

COO & FOUNDING TEAM MEMBER FARM TOGETHER NEW YORK, NEW YORK land is an asset class that is uncorrelated with other major asset classes making it unique. As FarmTogether works to scale regenerative offerings and sustainable agricultural practices, there is a potential for ancillary incomes for farmers and investors with carbon credits. David and his team are aware of the high demand for investors in these projects. They see tremendous potential in the development, identification and implementation of regenerative agriculture practices.

“I think we are closer, rather than further, to the day when [carbon credits] will no longer be optional for companies,” says David. “The largest organizations, the largest universities, the largest states have all made public statements ensuring that they will reach carbon neutrality by a given year… There is no way they can achieve that on an operational basis, we just don’t have the technology. The only way they can meet these goals is through the purchase of carbon credits.” 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER TRADER PHD, LLC ANKENY, IOWA When it comes to getting content on the current state of agriculture in the United States, then you probably have heard the voice of Delaney Howell. A broadcaster, content creator, and reporter extraordinaire in the agriculture industry, she’s lent her reporting skills to Market to Market, her daily podcast “Ag News Daily” (est. 2017), “Spokesman Speaks” podcast on behalf of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, a 16

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

freelance reporter for “This Week in Agribusiness,” Agri-Pulse, and her daily radio program on Your Ag Network. If this wasn’t enough, she also works a “regular” nine-to-five job as the Chief Marketing Officer for Trader PhD, a relatively young company working in the futures of agriculture. Delaney believes in quality content, not just noise to fill the silence. Utilizing co-hosts and internship teams, her

efforts into the podcasting sphere go beyond hosting a company she formed in 2018 called the Global Ag Network. Delaney’s team consumes news and information daily to share with their listeners through their “herd” of agriculturerelated podcasts. This results in content that informs, educates, and shares the stories of the global world of agriculture. Delaney looks forward to moving Trader Ph.D. forward with a new website and app to quickly reach customers with detailed insights and information on markets and trends in her career. Growing Trader Ph.D. and growing her company are her main goals as she continues to evaluate new goals and new opportunities as they present themselves. “When I look at things to take on or off my plate, whether it’s business related or personal, my time is worth more to me than money,” says Delaney, who is a self-proclaimed “yes-man.” Despite goals and values that are always changing, Delaney says that you can always reevaluate where you are at and where you want to go. It’s not too late to say yes to a new opportunity and try something new!

MATT FOLEY Matt Foley is the program director for The Combine AgriFood Incubator and Biotech Connector for Invest Nebraska, a venture development fund focused on supporting high growth entrepreneurs within the state of Nebraska. The Combine is a statewide program strengthening high growth ag and food start-up companies through commercialization curriculum, incubation space, and networking events. The Biotech Connector provides flexible wet lab space to biotechnology companies. In 2011, the state of Nebraska was tied for 51st in the country in regards to entrepreneurship. Fast forward to 2020 and, because of programs like Invest Nebraska, the state of Nebraska consistently ranks in the upper-thirties for venture capital financing. Invest Nebraska alone invested 20 million dollars, which saw a match of 90 million dollars invested by the private sector. Matt is excited about the future of start-ups and takes the partnership and collaboration of agriculture associations and commodity groups in creating their own start-up incentives as a huge win. While he can get frustrated in not digging deeper into some of the applications and problemsolving of these start-ups,

PROGRAM DIRECTOR INVEST NEBRASKA LINCOLN, NEBRASKA Matt’s hope is to continue building as diverse a skillset as he possibly can. Finding investors can trip up a lot of start-ups and was the first part of FarmAfield that drew his interest into being on the other side of the table. When you’re starting out, Matt advises that you focus more on your customer discovery and if the problem is truly worth solving. Understand how the problem is currently being solved or attempted to be solved, and know how your proposition changes the

value in the market. When you are looking for investors, there are a few pros and cons. The key component, however, is making sure that your long term goals match the investors. What does it mean to take on some capitol and take on projections that you may not be comfortable with? “Those that specialize later on in their career will catch up, because they have that broader benchmark of skills, resources, and experiences,” says Matt summarizing Range by David Epstein. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



OWNER CONTINUUM AG, LLC. WASHINGTON, IOWA Mitchell Hora’s first word was “corn,” which couldn’t be more fitting for this seventhgeneration Iowan farmer. In fact, in 2021, the Hora family will be celebrating 150 years of Hora family farming legacy and innovation in their hometown of Washington, Iowa. Mitchell still works closely with his father, trialing and experimenting with new processes of production to improve soil health and sustainability. In 2015, Mitchell took 18

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

his passion for soil science, sustainability and regenerative agriculture and combined it all into his own company: Continuum Ag. Originating with excel spreadsheets and human-interpretation, Mitchell analyzes reports from the Haney Test, which uses unique soil extracts in the lab to determine what quantity of soil nutrients are available to soil microbes. The most current soil test for showing available nutrients today, Mitchell tests his own

soil weekly to continue adding and analyzing data to their research, but recommends everyone to test their soil every other year. Continuum Ag has built the first software to help interpret the Haney Test and has the largest private database of Haney Test results and has served 40 states and ten countries. As Continuum Ag continues to grow, the plan is to use a wide array of tools to provide comprehensive, unbiased and scalable systems to help farmers make decisions in a transparent and unbiased system. “I have very intense data and that’s why I work very closely with Dr. Haney,” explains Mitchell. “The soil is a living system and is always changing so that I can crosscompare a soil sample from one-second in time across all of our data.” By continuing to build the opportunity to record metrics of biology in regenerative agriculture, Continuum Ag and Mitchell hope to help quantify the benefits of sustainable agriculture into a real dollar value. Integrating other data software tools and more, they have been able to consult in 40 states and 10 countries and, as awareness continues to build, they hope to grow with the industry to help farmers, consumers, and the economy.

TYLER NUSS Tyler Nuss the farmer. Tyler Nuss the fifthgeneration farmer. Tyler Nuss the fifthgeneration farmer who works at an electric car startup. Despite no formal background in marketing, Tyler Nuss has been able to take the agricultural world by storm by simply harnessing his innate curiosity in the world of food and agriculture innovation. A fifth-generation farm family from Lodi, California, Tyler’s eldest brother and father work on their thousand acre vegetable specialty farm full time. Unable to sustain all the siblings, Tyler and his brother Tim found careers off the farm but wanted to find a way to continue to stay engaged and bring value to Nuss Farms. They found that opportunity in the form of the Modern Acre Podcast, a show that they started to answer the questions they wanted to know about the world of innovation in food and agriculture. They had no set goals besides producing great quality content consistently for two years and, while they have managed to stay on that goal tracker, they have also begun to see a unique set of indirect fruits of their labor. Consulting for other

GROUP MANAGER - COMMERCIAL PURCHASING RIVIAN IRVINE, CALIFORNIA farms and creating unique partnerships with podcast guests, Tyler and Tim have been able to bring forward new ideas of ecommerce, sustainability and regenerative agriculture to their farm. Being able to follow their story and results on the Modern Acre podcast is a benefit for their listeners and for those partnerships to grow as their target audience learns of direct results by trying their business model and/or product.

If it wasn’t for the podcast, Tyler doesn’t believe that he, nor Tim, would be as engaged in the farm as they would have been without. As they learn more information and chat with industry professionals, they find themselves routinely returning to the farm to have open dialogue with their brother and father about the operation regarding regenerative farming and diversification. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



OWNER PETERSON TIMBER, INC. REDDING, CALIFORNIA Zane Peterson may attribute his life success at a young age to being naive, but his involvement in extracurricular events, willingness to learn from those around him and work as a team, have allowed this young forester to capitalize on an amazing opportunity in California forests. Growing up with parents in the timber industry by way of mills, Zane started purchasing logs for them while attending Shasta Community College. 20

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

Through that process, he created an amazing working relationship with veteran loggers and foresters. It wasn’t until he began working on California Assembly 901 with the California Farm Bureau, that Zane started to see an opportunity that was coming on the horizon. A bill whose original purpose was to remove trees that were killed by bugs, a series of catastrophic fires in the state of California shifted the

direction towards reducing the fuel load. Zane saw the opportunity and took it! Building his business, Peterson Timber, Incorporated, one employee at a time, Zane was able to do what no other veteran logger was willing to do: chipping for power plants. After nearly fifty years of market swings, most loggers had been burned by the system and didn’t trust in the potential of the opportunity being presented. Utilizing his naivety and enthusiasm, Zane took a calculated risk that paid off big for him! He now works with a large team in Tier 1 and Tier 2 hazardous fuel load areas to help manage and maintain forests in California. The wood is chipped down and delivered to power plants to provide energy. Timber is an ag commodity that many don’t think of and Zane works hard to stay involved with his Farm Bureau, orchards, and other ag commodities along the way, keeping timber in the agricultural conversation. Zane also works hard to help the next generation of heavyequipment timber operators through a heavy equipment operators school at Shasta Community College in California.

ADVOCACY & EDUCATION The gap between producer and consumer has never been wider. The vast majority of consumers don’t know a farmer and have never been on a commercial farming operation. Most farmers don’t know exactly where their products are ultimately consumed. This can have many drawbacks. Consumers start to distrust or even fear their food and the way it is produced. Producers aren’t well positioned to adapt to consumer needs and are subject to commodity market volatility. Both sides of the food system begin to lose faith in the other while those in the middle can prey upon the disconnect to capture more value. In the following pages, you will meet some outstanding educators and advocates that are striving to bring transparency and understanding to all stakeholders in the agriculture industry. They are communicators, strategists, teachers, and organizers who help make sure the messages of agriculture gets spread far and wide.

30 Under 30 in Agriculture



SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE AGRICULTURAL MARKETS AND POLICY UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA COLUMBIA, MISSOURI Benjamin Brown has been described as “nothing short of exceptional” when it comes to his grassroots efforts to understand and fully encompass his work in agricultural markets, risk management, and policy. Traveling to nearly every county in the state of Ohio in his previous role, he has built hands-on knowledge of agriculture across Ohio, Missouri, and much of the midwest. Benjamin has quickly garnered the respect of the 22

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

agriculture producers for his approachability and expertise. His roots run deep in 4-H and FFA and he hopes to utilize career skills he began practicing at a young age to pursue a career as a government relations director or risk management consultant for a prominent agriculture company. His master’s thesis is geared towards improving and adapting the agriculture risk coverage program. Benjamin’s research and conclusions were even included in the 2018 farm bill.

Benjamin is known for his involvement, enthusiasm and organizational skills that have helped develop programs for the agriculture sector. He is also known for his involvement outside of work as the advisor to Collegiate Farm Bureau at The Ohio State University, an active alumni of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, the National FFA Association and Kansas State University. Benjamin’s knowledge of risk management and data analysis in agriculture may seem to be limiting in his career options, but he believes that ag economists are versatile employees that can shine in a variety of organizations. The ability to learn and adopt new technology, and collecting and interpreting data not only differentiates candidates in the job market, but also farmers and ranchers in a competitive business market. Benjamin’s understanding of these complex topics, combined with his ability to break them into palatable nuggets for agricultural stakeholders, makes his skillset perfect for Extension at a major land-grant university. When he’s not traveling to speak, Benjamin is diligently working in his office to uncover more effective programs and disseminating information through phone or video interviews with local media outlets and other mass media networks.

HANNAH THOMPSON-WEEMAN As the vice president of communications for the Animal Ag Alliance, Hannah Thompson-Weeman leads the development and implementation of the Alliance’s communications strategy. Her role includes the coordinating of industrywide responses to emerging issues, engaging with key influencers, connecting with trade and mainstream media, advising members on the handling of crisis situations, and representing the Alliance on state, regional, national and international platforms through speaking engagements. For more than six years, Hannah has embraced her leadership role within the Alliance, working with a large and diverse group of Alliance stakeholders. One such position is overseeing the Alliance’s Issue’s Management Steering Community, whose monthly meetings determine emerging issues to animal agriculture and the necessary strategy along with its subsequent implementation to provide a unified and collaborative front. She also has provided Lunch & Learn webinar events since 2017 that offer quarterly insights on issues such as farm animal welfare, sustainability, environmental stewardship and many other important topics. Organizing farm tours,

VICE PRESIDENT, STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT ANIMAL AGRICULTURE ALLIANCE CENTREVILLE, MARYLAND managing the internship program, and helping with the College Aggies Online Scholarship Competition, allows Hannah the opportunity to mentor the next generation of agricultural advocates. From misinformation and fear-mongering around current hot topics such as antibiotics in animal agriculture or agriculture’s climate impacts, to industries under pressure such as the dairy industry or the beef

industry, there can be a lot of pressure on Hannah. “I have felt empowered and confident in my role and making decisions knowing that I am going to be supported internally,” says Hannah about the close-knit staff of the Alliance. Both a challenging and unique role, Hannah is thankful for the opportunities to travel, meet new people and help protect the industry and livelihood of so many people. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



MANAGING EDITOR MALCOLM MEDIA CLOVIS, CALIFORNIA The second oldest of twelve children, Matthew Malcolm didn’t grow up on a farm, but found a passion for farming at a young age through the opportunity to raise a garden upon moving to a new home. Starting the large garden in the front yard, Matthew and his siblings began selling their surplus produce to neighbors and friends. With his youngest sibling now in First Grade, their farm stand, affectionately dubbed 24

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

Frontyard Farms, continues to operate today and has even grown to include farm tours for local kids and their parents. Whether it was jumping into his mission trip in Tokyo, Japan, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or heading into unfamiliar territory right out of High School as a writer for Malcolm Media, the family publishing company, Matthew has always been good at adapting and finding his way in unique

situations with positivity and genuine interest. He was once told the famous line of “fake it ‘til you make it,” and takes it to heart when starting in a new space, whether in a new job or a new country. Matthew’s ultimate goal is to become a farmer someday - just like the ones he interviews regularly in his role as Managing Editor. Not only does he coordinate the content that goes into their five publications (American Vineyard, Pacific Nut Producer, Vegetables West, California Dairy, and California Fresh Fruit), but he also manages the online blogs, social media and curates all of their YouTube channel interviews himself. He even plans and moderates the speaker programs for Malcolm Media’s annual grower expos. It is a lot to keep up with and seems overwhelming at times. The responsibilities and possibilities are endless; so recognizing priorities, meeting deadlines and careful time management is critical for keeping momentum. He continues working hard as an advocate for agriculture through his writing, and enjoys his avocation with his wife and two children in inviting urban dwellers to get their first look at agriculture in their Frontyard Farm garden.

PETER BACHMANN Originally, Peter Bachmann wanted to be a large animal veterinarian but, within just a week on campus, he realized that wasn’t where he wanted his career to go! He always knew he wanted to be involved in agriculture and by never letting what he thought was his dream get in the way of his destination, he has become a monumental force for agriculture in Washington, D.C. Post graduation, Peter has held a number of careers in Washington, D.C.. He was a policy specialist for the National Association of Conservation Districts, the Manager of Governor Affairs at the USA Rice Federation, a policy advisor and then Senior Advisor to the Secretary for the USDA, and is now back with USA Rice as their Vice President of International Trade Policy. As someone well-versed in the inner-workings of Washington, D.C., he highly encourages others with agricultural backgrounds to get involved in industry groups and government as they are a rare commodity. “It’s almost a diamond in the rough to find people with agriculture experience, so you are [automatically] more marketable

VICE PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE POLICY USA RICE FEDERATION WASHINGTON, D.C. and valuable to these agriculture associations out here [in Washington, D.C.],” says Peter. Many Washington, D.C. hopefuls have trouble finding opportunities at the Capitol, which Peter attributes to employers being burned by those offered jobs getting cold feet at moving. Peter’s advice is to get an entrylevel job or an internship to get you started and then

use that time to network for your next position. At the end of the day, it’s about building goodwill. A part of that is Peter’s recommendation to take advice from everyone albeit with a grain of rice! Don’t be afraid to show up in person and fight for your spot in Washington, D.C., if that is truly what you want to do!

30 Under 30 in Agriculture



FREELANCE MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST AGRICULTURE & RURAL ISSUES WASHINGTON, D.C. Sarah’s diligence and thought-provoking questions are at the forefront of the new world of ag communications that looks to address the questions that have long been ignored. Described as “one of the most ethical, thorough, and diligent journalists” in agriculture, Sarah’s tenacity to find solutions to agriculture’s most critical issues provides real stories that spark real change. Despite her youth, her background experience at the 26

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

Farmer’s Business Network and RFD-TV, has helped her become an inspirational freelance ag journalist. After reading Carl Sagan’s book Cosmo, Sarah realized that when you are passionate about a niche topic, you can get other people to care about it and see it as you do. Ag media isn’t always aware that it is being left behind and the advertising dollars needed to keep ag media alive are becoming scarce. As big industries continue to move

past ag media, Sarah predicts it won’t be long until they’ve bypassed it completely. “The next generation of ag media is going to be in the YouTube stars and popular podcast owners,” predicts Sarah who believes that branding is an under-utilized asset for farmers. “Individuals that have interesting and compelling personalities and perspectives, that can go straight to their audience themselves and don’t need the banner ad or editorial staff to make that interesting content.” Like many great journalists, Sarah is haunted by a number of provoking questions surrounding modern day agriculture and, at the forefront, is the question of if farming without exploitation is feasible. The fact that the answer could be “no,” is absolutely mindblowing but it’s probability lies in agriculture’s inherent and un-altered natural system and space. Sarah continues to navigate the sphere of ag media and communications, persistently helping farmers have the conversations they don’t want to have in the hopes for a better future. Through her writing and experiences, she hopes to answer some of the toughest questions facing agriculture to use those solutions for more strategic and practical decision-making in the future.

AGRIBUSINESS Many don’t realize that there are well over 300 different careers in the agriculture industry. Certainly some of those are in production agriculture, but the vast majority deal in areas such as agricultural inputs, procurement, transportation, storage, processing, marketing, and beyond. We aggregate all of these areas of the agricultural supply chain into this agribusiness section. Most who work in agribusiness have a deep passion for agriculture and the food system. Often they find a place to combine that passion with other skill sets demanded by their corporate employer. These can lead to fulfilling and rewarding career tracks that still allow them to remain close to an industry they care so much about. In the following section, you will see the breadth and diversity of careers in the agriculture industry. You’ll discover managers, sales professionals, recruiters, trainers, marketers, consultants, analysts, and more. I hope their passion for their role in this industry leaps off the page the way it certainly would if you met them in person.

30 Under 30 in Agriculture



SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER CSX TRANSPORTATION CHICAGO, ILLINOIS As a child, Joshua “Cain” Thurmond never anticipated that he would be involved in agriculture through the railroad system. Today, he couldn’t picture himself anywhere else, as he plays a pivotal part in the agricultural supply chain that the average consumer may not even be aware of. Cain joined CSX, a railroad covering 20,000-plus route miles east of the Mississippi, in 2014 and currently serves as a Senior Sales Manager. 28

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

Many of the markets that Cain works with are extremely competitive when it comes to shipping logistics, specifically with competing railroads and even barges, trucking, and other modes of transportation. As a part of his job, Cain’s goal is to serve as a liaison with his customers, working externally and internally to make sure that issues do not arise and, if they do, that they are quickly rectified. Cain also works to renew annual multi-year contracts,

and he collaborates with the CSX industrial development team to find new customer locations with rail service or build rail infrastructure into an existing facility. At the end of the day, Cain’s role as a sales manager is to make sure that customers are taken care of and that the railroad is doing the right thing for both the customer and for CSX. Doing everything he can to meet those needs and continue growing the company is what’s most important. Although many people recognize the huge contribution of railroads in U.S. history, the industry’s ongoing role and potential to support a more sustainable future is also a compelling story. Through technological advances, railroads continue to extend their advantage over trucking as the most fuel-efficient mode of transportation on land. Plus, new automation technologies are greatly contributing to operating efficiencies that have dramatically increased the reliability of rail service while also enhancing rail safety, Cain notes. Cain says that, no matter what, mistakes are unavoidable, but the ability to bounce back is what will define you. Surround yourself with mentors, ask questions and learn every day.

GARRETT LISTER The son of a high school agriculture teacher, Garrett Lister’s passion for learning and the agricultural industry started at a young age and has never waned. A former State FFA President, he graduated early from Kansas State University with a 4.0 and spoke as the Commencement Speaker for the College of Agriculture. Unsure of what direction to take, he found his passion lay in the world of agricultural economics, specifically in the cattle markets. Working for Integrated Livestock Services, Garrett actively assesses risk in the cattle industry rotating through working with their buying partners and analyzing the data they create in feeding cattle to predict futures markets. Risk management has always been an important part of agriculture that not every farmer or rancher considers. “Ultimately, a very good reason to manage risk that you know about ahead of time is that there is a lot of risk that you don’t know about, and, when they reveal themselves, you want to be able to give them your full attention,” says Garrett. Being hedged and having a disciplined strategy for their business has allowed Innovative Livestock

RISK MANAGEMENT - CATTLE INNOVATIVE LIVESTOCK SERVICES MANHATTAN, KANSAS Services in 2020 to focus on the turbulent times that the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on the cattle markets. Through their structure, they were able to quickly think about the supply chain, market cattle, and focus on changes in the production inputs for cattle. It also required cost-analysis on the risk of leaving pens empty or purchasing cattle to fill those pens. Post college, Garrett read a book called Grit by Angela

Duckworth and found truth in her words about fostering passion. Garrett believes that passion is not something that can always be found through selfreflection or introspection, but is something that you can discover through curiosity. Asking questions and realizing what topics or interests spark more questions is a great way to discover your passion. Be curious and you’ll find a passion to follow. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



FARM MARKETER CARGILL ALBION, NEBRASKA Hard working and caring, Jordan Bonham Rasmussen was voted Most Likely to Never Leave in her small town yearbook in high school. Staying close to home for her undergraduate at The Ohio State University, Jordan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications with a minor in agricultural business. Through her 30

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

program, she found herself intrigued to shake old stereotypes, step outside of her comfort zone and accept first one and then a second year of a summer internship in a small rural town in Nebraska. Her second internship was for Cargill and she is still there today, albeit now as a full time employee after taking a position out of college in a different area

of Nebraska. Located in Albion, Nebraska, Jordan is a grain marketer, working strategically with her customers daily to create a diversified plan that fits their individual operation. Jordan believes that everything boils down to customer service because customer service is at the core of everything you do. At the end of the day, a five cent difference isn’t really going to matter if you don’t take care of the customer, treat them right and build that relationship with trust and loyalty. What matters is how well you know your contracts, how you help the customers’ needs and how you best serve them. This spills over into her photography business side hustle. She loves nothing more than creating tangible memories for her clients. Shooting senior photos, couples, and local retail products, her involvement with her newfound community shows her collegiate goals of being as involved as you can. Constantly pushing herself to her limits, Jordan is a firm believer of chasing your dreams, being positive and caring about those around you.

LORRYN BOLTE Relying on her heavy background in animal agriculture, Lorryn Bolte has made large strides for Novus International as a positive voice for agriculture in her role as the Global Marketing Communications Specialist. With a passion for teaching, Lorryn spent her first position with Novus International as a Global Sales Product Training Specialist. She continues to fulfill her teaching passion by working with high school and college students in career development. Lorryn first got involved in the poultry industry in middle school as preparation for her high school FFA S.A.E. project on chicken production. That passion continues today and she is a part of a number of organizations such as the International Egg Commission, the Poultry Science Association, National Agri Marketing Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the American Quarter Horse Association. In 2019, she was accepted as a member of the Missouri Agriculture Leaders of Tomorrow Program, Class XVII (ALOT). As a part of her mission of advocacy and open-book policy, Lorryn has become involved with Common Ground, an organization

GLOBAL PRODUCT MARKETING COORDINATOR PHIBRO ANIMAL HEALTH CORPORATION QUINCY, ILLINOIS that strives to bridge the gap between suburbia and modern agriculture practices. Common Ground is focusing on questions and concerns that arise around commercial poultry production, livestock feed ingredients, and consumer classifications such as organic, antibiot free, all natural, hormone free, etc. Understanding consumer concerns and sharing her personal experiences in production agriculture are at

the forefront of her advocacy. As a true advocate for a number of facets of agriculture, Lorryn believes that all members of agriculture need to work together to be open-minded, share their story and plant a seed in those outside of agriculture. That way, when questions arise, they will hopefully turn to industry professionals or boots in the barnyard, rather than Wikipedia or Google. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



RESEARCH ASSOCIATE II BAYER PAYETTE, IDAHO Not from a farming background, Pedee is a first-generation agriculture person who found his love in agriculture through great FFA advisors at his high school. From there, he pursued those interests in college and has completed a variety of training to get to where he is today, working as the research associate with the carrot breeding program for Bayer, formerly known as Monsanto. In his day to day, Pedee manages 32

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

operations, sampling, planting, pollination, hybrid evaluation, and seed and plot harvest, amongst other things. It’s a challenging area to work in but through continued research and study of seeds and their genetics, Pedee remains enthusiastic and engaged. An outstanding leader in seed breeding and research, Pedee Ewing has had a broad agricultural career that has taken him through the knowledge and diversity

of a variety of different commodity crops. Whether it was working on malted barley with Anheuser-Busch, breeding carrots or, in his current role, working with sweet corn, he is a forever student of the game. “One of the first ingredients of success is humility,” advises Pedee to anyone early in their career who wants to be successful in the seed industry. “Approach with humility and ask lots of questions.” Some tips that Pedee has for becoming a manager at a young age is to pull on the experiences that you have already had with good managers in challenging situations. Understand the decisions that they made and why they made them in that way. Pedee believes firmly in the soft skills of communication and listening, which aren’t taught in formal textbooks or classes. You have to intentionally go out of your way to learn these skills but, with them in your toolbox, you’ll be able to transition between career paths, jobs, and into positions of management. Understanding why people react or make decisions in different situations is key and parallel to the research done in the field breeding vegetables and crops.

ROSIE THONI Rosie Thoni has lived and breathed agriculture since day one as a product of Canada’s 4-H and junior cattle associations, and her family’s ranch. Knowing very little about Oklahoma State University, except for its international reputation as a leading agricultural communications program, she packed up her bags and transferred after her first two years at the University of Alberta, and hasn’t looked back since. Hired by AdFarm directly out of college, Rosie has worked in both Canada and the U.S. in varying capacities. An attribute of agency life is the constant ability to grow and move, a lifestyle that Rosie thrives in. She currently holds the title of U.S. Public Relations and Content Lead based out of Wichita, Kansas. Her knowledge and expertise have been notably seen worldwide with some of the largest names in agriculture, including New Holland, Nutrien, Trimble and more. Whether it’s earning media placement with top agricultural and mainstream publications, providing media training for executive teams, strategizing media relations for major rebranding and launch projects, or implementing strategic

U.S. PUBLIC RELATIONS LEAD ADFARM WITCHITA, KANSAS social media campaigns for AdFarm clients across North America, Rosie always has something new and exciting to be involved in. Passionate about agriculture communications and the upcoming generations, Rosie continues to give back and chairs the Oklahoma State University Ag Communications Advisory Council. Her advice for future agriculture communications graduates

with sights on an agency career is to hone their specialties, whether that’s PR, copywriting, design or project management. Looking to the future of the industry, Rosie is confident that communicators with expertise in agriculture and specialized training in their craft will continue to grow in their value.

30 Under 30 in Agriculture



VICE PRESIDENT AG BIOTECH, INC. SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA With a reach and understanding for agricultural biotechnology and the scientific literacy that goes into the research and development of agriculture inputs and fertilizers, Tristan Hudak is more than just an intelligent agricultural scientist. He’s the 2016 Telly Award winner for the show American Farmer where he shared his knowledge on biological farming. Awards are nothing when compared to the 300,000 small-scale 34

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

farmers in East Africa that he’s helped through his role as the Vice President of Ag BioTech, Inc. and the Director of Business Development for Ag-Ploutos Company, Ltd. Ag BioTech, Inc., is a family owned business founded by Tristan’s father Robert, and focuses on providing natural biostimulants, biofertilizers, and plant growth regulators worldwide. Starting locally in upstate New York, the company has grown over the past quarter century to

alleviate the stress of crops on farming. Tristan’s role in the research and development of these inputs has been instrumental for the success of many farmers domestically and internationally. Not afraid to take a chance, Tristan capitalized on an opportunity to join an American Chamber of Commerce agricultural trade show linkage between U.S. companies and Uganda firms in 2017. Through the networking at that event, he was able to build relationships to create Ag-Ploutos Company to bring Extension services and opportunities into Uganda through the farming of sesame seeds. A high-value crop, sesame seeds are traded high and have a large global market that Tristan’s team is able to help farmers capitalize on starting in 2020. After a successful first test run on 130 acres with nine different farmers, he has been able to bring education, field days, development opportunities and more to small-scale Ugandan farmers. Tristan hopes to continue to lay the plan and allow publicprivate sector partnerships to continue creating Extension opportunities for these international farmers to increase on-farm income, their local market and the global market at the same time.

SUSTAINABILITY & FOOD SECUIRTY The tremendous productivity and resiliency of our food system was on full display in 2020. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are always areas for improvement when it comes to making the food system more sustainable and more equitable. Producing more with less has been a theme of agriculture in the past century. This will continue to be vital for agriculture as well as addressing other challenges along the supply chain such as food waste, nutrition, and distribution. There are some very interesting and important problems to be addressed to make sure that the food system is meeting the challenge of adequately feeding a growing world population. In the following pages, you will meet some tremendous individuals who are dedicated to solving big challenges like financing and education for smallholder farmers, improving soil health, utilizing food that would otherwise be wasted, and sequestering more carbon through agricultural operations.

30 Under 30 in Agriculture



COSECHA CONSULTING FOUNDER & LEAD CONSULTANT COSTA RICA Andrea Zinn is on a mission to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers around the globe and ensure income equality for marginalized populations all while committing to sustainable agriculture. Her work experience in over nine countries includes transformative projects such as leading the business model development for a coffee social enterprise sourcing from ethnic minority farmers in Myanmar. She has also been involved in 36

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

training Latin American and East African coffee farmer cooperatives to combat price volatility by protecting their livelihoods with complex hedging strategies employed on the New York Stock Exchange. Andrea gained her first international experience by spending a year in Malaysia on a Fulbright grant. Returning to the job force afterwards, Andrea wanted a career that would leverage her business background and have a social impact. Impact investing

was the best fit. She found a position working with a social impact investor providing financing to agriculture cooperatives and SMEs and supporting smallholder farmers in sustainably sourced value chains. Taking a leap of faith to work on her career internationally and her Spanish, Andrea seized the opportunity to move to an organizational office in Costa Rica in 2017. In the process of writing and working on donorfunded capacity building grants, she was introduced to independent consultants who ultimately inspired her to branch into independent consulting herself and create Cosecha Consulting in 2020. Andrea predominantly focuses on project implementation, data analysis and reporting, price risk management, smallholder farmer finance, and developing business tools to benefit farmer organizations. She has worked on projects funded by USAID, GIZ, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development. Andrea focuses on interventions that support coffee value chain actors to catalyze innovation, sustainability approaches, and social impact for smallholder farmers.

ANNA GLENN Growing up in Baltimore County, Anna Glenn was involved in her local 4-H club and fair showing dairy goats, rabbits and chickens on her small family farm. It was during this time that her passion for agriculture grew. She knew that this was the industry that she wanted to be involved in. She graduated with degrees in Animal Science and Agricultural Sciences & Technology, a passion for agricultural education, and an interest in traveling abroad. Hope in the Harvest is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to generate Christ centered economic growth. Their mission is to “seek to cultivate Christ’s hope in underdeveloped and impoverished areas of the world through agricultural and personal transformation.” Anna is currently the acting Department Head for Agriculture at the Liberia International Christian College and a course professor. Her work revolves around helping farmers grow their local foods with minimal inputs, while mentoring students in their agribusiness pursuits. Anna’s main goal in working with students and farmers is to equip them to then go

AGRICULTURE INSTRUCTOR & ACTING DEPARTMENT CHAIR HOPE IN THE HARVEST MISSIONS INTERNATIONAL, INC. GANTA, LIBERIA out and become agricultural leaders within their own communities. Helping these students find further success for their family farms, Anna also runs their radio programming, online educational videos, and other resources. “I would really encourage the person [interested in following this path] and let them know that it is going to be challenging and, a lot of

time, you’ll question what you got yourself into,” says Anna. Anna’s advice is that when “working with a different culture, you have to be able to adapt and be flexible with whatever comes each day” and to place more importance on relationships and connecting with people over how many things you check off your to-do list. 30 Under 30 in Agriculture



VICE PRESIDENT OF SUSTAINABILITY LOCUS AGRICULTURAL SOLUTIONS SOLON, OHIO With a passion for making the world a better place, Keith Heidecorn never realized that agriculture could, and would, be the vessel that would help him make positive global impacts on environmental issues. A year after meeting the chairman of Locus Ag in Cleveland, Ohio, Keith was offered an opportunity to work for their accelerator program, Locus Fermentation Solutions. He quickly became a vital 38

30 Under 30 in Agriculture

part of the company and was named the vice president of business development and emerging technologies. Keith’s vision for the future and understanding of the company’s potential global impact has led him to spearheading their carbon sequestration project to create opportunities for farmers to make potentially profitable carbon credits through soil and root biology. As the only B Corp in the

agricultural input provider space, going through the audit and application process to become a B Corp was an important step that Keith pioneered. As a B Corp, it’s a clear statement to investors, potential investors and other businesses in the space that Locus Ag is serious about the Three P’s: Planet, People, and Profit. It was important for Locus Ag to show their actionable steps through the audit and registration as a B Corp as European investors are trending towards an investing portfolio of businesses that care about sustainable practices, combating climate change and the overall mission of the company, rather than how much can be squeezed out of the bottom line. The sustainable world of agriculture is expected to boom in the next decade and a big part of that boom will be the regulation and management of the term “sustainable.” Keith’s plan is to continue building science and data around sustainability in agriculture, in an effort to provide incentives and rewards for farmers who are caring for environmental issues such as climate change, soil water holding capacity, and the limiting of phosphorus inputs.

SARAH HULICK Sarah Hulick is on the front lines of battling the food waste problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about one-third of all food produced worldwide is wasted. Sarah works as a grower innovation manager for Full Harvest, a venture capital-backed startup that has created the first online produce brokerage platform for surplus produce that will not make retail grade. While the majority of food is wasted at the consumer-level, Full Harvest targets reducing on-farm food loss by working directly with growers and produce buyers. COVID-19 further amplified how complicated the food waste issue can be. With food service markets shutting down, some produce had to be tilled back into the ground even while people were lining up at food banks. Growing up on a small farm in upstate New York, Sarah always knew she wanted to work in agriculture. She says her involvement in 4-H and FFA really opened her eyes to the opportunities that are available in the ag industry. Initially, this led her down the path of research. She obtained her master’s degree in Horticultural Biology at Cornell University. After graduate school, Sarah decided to switch coasts by moving to California, where she held research roles with Driscoll’s and Dole Fresh

GROWER INNOVATION MANAGER FULL HARVEST SALINAS, CALIFORNIA Vegetables. She leveraged this background in science and applied agricultural research to help others by creating a new Sustainable Agriculture Technology program at Cabrillo College, where she still teaches courses. Sarah joined Full Harvest in 2019 to manage the company’s emerging on-farm food loss verification program Verified Rescued™ and help large consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies market the sustainability of the

products they rescue. She also contributes to other efforts within the company, including product development, market research, and environmental benefit calculations. At the time of the interview, Sarah was working with around 60 growers to help them find markets for their surplus produce. Sarah encourages other young professionals to read the book “80,000 Hours”, which helps readers “find a fulfilling career that does good.” 30 Under 30 in Agriculture


INDEX ALACYN COX...............................................................................PAGE 10

KEITH HEIDECORN.........................................................PAGE 38

ALIKA CHUCK............................................................................PAGE 11

LORRYN BOLTE........................................................................PAGE 31

ANDREA ZINN...........................................................................PAGE 36

MATT FOLEY.................................................................................PAGE 17

ANNA GLENN...............................................................................PAGE 37

MATTHEW MALCOM.....................................................PAGE 24

BENJAMIN BROWN............................................................PAGE 22

MITCHELL HORA.................................................................PAGE 18

BROOKE BEAM...........................................................................PAGE 5

PEDEE EWING...........................................................................PAGE 32

CAIN THURMOND..............................................................PAGE 28

PETER BACHMANN..........................................................PAGE 25

CASEY CALL....................................................................................PAGE 6

ROSIE THONI..............................................................................PAGE 33

DAVID CHAN................................................................................PAGE 15

SARAH HULICK.....................................................................PAGE 39

DELANEY HOWELL...........................................................PAGE 16

SARAH MOCK............................................................................PAGE 26

ELLIE SIMS......................................................................................PAGE 12

TONY LOPES...................................................................................PAGE 8

GARRETT LISTER................................................................PAGE 29

TRISTAN HUDAK.................................................................PAGE 34


TYLER MCGEE...........................................................................PAGE 13

JESSE JAMES WIGGINS....................................................PAGE 7

TYLER NUSS..................................................................................PAGE 19


ZANE PETERSON..................................................................PAGE 20