Speakers & Handouts

Download a complete list of the 2017 speakers here.

Making the Most of Reduced-lignin Alfalfa in Your Operation

Mark Sulc

Mark Sulc is Professor of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH where for the past 25 years he has served as the Extension Forage Specialist for Ohio. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Iowa State University and PhD from University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research interests focus on applied aspects of forage management including new forage genetics, integrated pest management of alfalfa, use of cover crops and annual forages to extend the grazing season, and integrated crop-livestock systems.


Precision is the Division in Silage

Jessica Drewry

Jessica Drewry is a Research Associate in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on precision agriculture applications.

Phil Kaatz

Phil Kaatz is an Extension Forage Management and Field Crops Specialist for Michigan State University.

Brian Luck

Brian Luck is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Biological System Engineering at UW-Madison. Brian’s research is in the area of logistics modeling, remote sensing, and image analysis and his extension activities focus on precision agriculture, machinery management, and remote sensing. Brian is originally from Hanson, KY. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering from the University of Kentucky and his PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Mississippi State University. Brian joined the Biological Systems Engineering faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in January, 2014.


Expand Your Land Use with Double-cropping

Kim Cassida

Kim Cassida is the Extension Forage Specialist for Michigan State University, with degrees from Penn State and the University of Maine. Her extension program focuses on all things forage, and her research program focuses on productivity, nutritional value, and bioactive components of forage mixtures and the role of forages in improving stability of agroecosystems. In her spare time she raises sheep.

Tim Harrigan

Tim Harrigan is the Field Crops and Forage Extension Specialist for Michigan State University.

Marilyn Thelen

Marilyn Thelen Is a Senior Educator with Michigan State University Extension. Thelen specializes in integrated crop and livestock systems. She has conducted field research and provided programming in manure management, field risk assessment, nutrient management as well as low disturbance tillage systems and cover crops. As a partner in the family farm, Thelen has observed the impact of extreme weather events and has seen how conservation practices can impact the cropping system.


Precision Dairy Cattle Monitoring

Barbara Jones

Dr. Barbara Jones grew up on a small hobby beef farm in Southern Maine where she raised replacement Holstein heifers for 4-H and college funds. She received a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Economics. After her time at Purdue she spent three years as a herdsman at various farms before starting a Master’s program at the University of Kentucky. During her Master’s she studied Dairy Systems Management under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Bewley. More specifically, she conducted a study evaluating differences between cows housed on two different freestall bases using precision dairy monitoring technologies. She continued on for her PhD at the University of Kentucky. During her PhD she focused on lameness detection using precision dairy monitoring technologies and the prevention of digital dermatitis with different footbathing solutions. She recently accepted an assistant professor position at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX and is also the Director of the Southwest Regional Dairy Center.


Finding the Right Mix for Soil Health

Dean Baas

Dean Baas is an Extension Educator in Sustainable Agriculture for Michigan State University Extension. Dean is involved in cover crop, soil health and organic agriculture research and education. Farmers and commodity groups are an integral part of his projects and programs. He is a member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council Executive Committee and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Coordinator for the state of Michigan. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Geosciences and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from MSU Prior to returning to MSU for graduate study, he had a 20-year career with the Kellogg Company.

Lisa Tiemann

Dr. Lisa Tiemann is an Assistant Professor of Soil Biology in the Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences Department at M.S.U. With a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas, she takes an agroecological approach to research, which is critical for developing innovative approaches to agriculture that simultaneously increase system productivity, resilience and sustainability. Dr. Tiemann works globally to promote the understanding of soil microorganisms’ contributions to soil organic matter and healthy, fertile soils. Dr. Tiemann’s research is conducted in a variety of agroecosystems in the U.S. and in Africa as she explores aspects of management and climate change that alter microbial community dynamics with consequences for soil fertility and soil health. The ultimate goal of her research is to determine how we can manage agroecosystems and soil microbes to sustain the critical ecosystem services soils provide in support of a rapidly growing human population.


Baleage Made Tight, Made Right

Wayne Coblentz

Wayne Coblentz, Ph.D., works for the United States Department of Agriculture in the Dairy Forage Research center where he is investigating the changes of nutritional characteristics of forages as a result of agronomic inputs, application of animal wastes, grazing, climate, and post-harvest management. He is also researching dairy heifer nutrition and management. He received his bachelors in Chemistry from Western Maryland College in 1977 and his masters from Pennsylvania State University in Dairy Science in 1979. He then furthered his education by earning his doctorate from Kansas State University in Forage Physiology in 1994. He has more than 30 years of research experience at 6 different universities and research centers. Coblentz grew up in Middletown, MD where he worked in his family dairy business, Deerspring Farms.


Creating Profitable Beef Operations by Managing Land, Livestock and People

Jerry Lindquist

Jerry is the Michigan State University Extension State-wide Grazing Educator & Northwest Michigan Field Crops Educator. Jerry has served as a M.S.U Extension agricultural educator for 35 years always based in Osceola County. His expertise is in all aspects of grazing and forage production management for beef and dairy cattle. Jerry brings an advanced integrated knowledge base of soil, crop, and animal agronomy to all projects tying them together with economic realities. In recent years his focus has been on soil health, multi specie cover crops, grass-fed beef production, beef cattle cost of production and hay production management. He is a member of the M.S.U Extension Beef, Field Crops, and Forage Teams and also serves on the Michigan Department of Agriculture Manure GAAMPs Review Committee. He along with his family raises beef cattle, goats and horses on the family farm.

Burke Teichert

Burke Teichert studied Agricultural Economics with an emphasis in AgBusiness at BYU. He also served a 2 ½ year mission for his church in Brazil. Upon graduating from BYU, he went to the University of Wyoming to get a M.S. in Agricultural Economics with emphasis in Farm and Ranch Management. While at UW he became acquainted with a very good Ranch Economist that taught him excellent methods for analyzing alternative methods of operating ranches or bringing new practices to them. After his time at the University of Wyoming, Burke spent a few years in the Artificial Insemination industry where he was put in touch with some of the best Animal Scientists in America—several of whom became mentors. This was a very valuable addition to the Agricultural Economics formal education.


Grass-fed Beef – Research and Experience

Jon Nelson

Jon Nelson grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and received a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Jon went on to get his Master's from Kettering Institute in Flint. Since 1989 Jon has worked for Dow Corning in production, technical support for customers, new facility design and startup and sales and market development. In 2000, he purchased a 200 acre cash crop farm and started the transition to grassfed beef in 2011. Today, Jon has 340 head of cattle birth to finish and 260 grazing acres. He also contracts grazing in the U.P. and northern Lower Peninsula.

Kable Thurlow

Kable Thurlow grew up on a Centennial family farm in northern Gladwin County that raised beef cattle. Kable graduated from Michigan State University in 1997 with a B.S. in Animal Science, majoring in beef cattle production. Right after graduation from M.S.U, Kable started working as a production supervisor for Thorn Apple Valley in Grand Rapids, MI. Kable’s career with Michigan State University Extension began in March of 1998. Throughout his career, Kable has been working with livestock producers in the central Michigan area. Since 2010, Kable has worked closely with Dr. Jason Rowntree at the M.S.U Lake City Experiment Station, along with Jerry Lindquist, and Center Manager Doug Carmichael on projects related to grass fed beef production, grazing management, and soil health.  Kable also works closely with many grass-based beef finishing operations in the state, many of whom are producing and selling grass-finished beef.


Is Your Land Regenerating? The Land-to-Market Program Provides the Answer

Matt Raven

Matt R. Raven is a Professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Dr. Raven received his B.S. in Plant Science (Agronomy and Range Science) as well as his Ag Specialist and Life Science Single Subject teaching credentials from University of California at Davis, his Masters in Agricultural Education from Kansas State University and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Education from The Ohio State University. Prior to Michigan State University he served on the faculty at Montana State University and Mississippi State University and as a program evaluator for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. His research interests include teaching and learning in higher education, knowledge sharing with an emphasis on diffusion and adoption of innovations especially in the context of agriculture and community food systems He is especially interested in the connection between healthy soils, healthy food, healthy people, and healthy communities with a focus on the utilization of grazing livestock to improve our soils. Dr. Raven is a faculty coordinator of the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) located in Chatham, Michigan with responsibilities in community food systems Dr. Raven also coordinates the agriculture, food and natural resource pre-service teacher program and assists with the Residential Initiative for Studying the Environment (RISE) specialization. He currently serves as the faculty advisor for the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.

Jason Rowntree

Dr. Jason Rowntree is an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University. As an associate professor of Animal Science, he coordinates Lake City and UPREC AgBioResearch and Extension Centers where he addresses economic, environmental and social complexity in agriculture. As an affiliate of the Center for Regional Food Systems, he strives to increase local food systems that strengthen local communities. He chairs the Grassfed Exchange, a leading U.S. grass-fed beef educational organization, is the scientific advisor and an accredited Holistic Management Educator for the Savory Institute and is an advisor of Standard Soil, a startup corporation that aims to meet the nation’s growing demand for grass-finished beef while restoring the ecosystems that support that industry. Dr. Rowntree received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, his MS from Mississippi State University, and his BS from Texas A&M University.