Meet the Class of 2020!
This group of 30 agricultural professionals represents a diverse mix of agricultural expertise – a unique characteristic of the IALF program. Nearly half of the class are actively engaged in production agriculture, while the remainder includes representatives of state, regional, and multinational companies and organizations working in the food and agriculture industries.
Andrew Alton, Sherman, is Regional Manager of Lending with Farm Credit Illinois working to assist customers in Logan and Menard counties. Andrew has served in the agriculture, commercial real estate, and manufacturer lending industry for the past decade. He has worked for Rabo Agrifinance and the Bank of Springfield. Andrew also serves his community as a board member with the Sherman Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rees Carillon Society. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Consumer Economics and Finance.
Jayma Appleby, Schaumburg, is the Director of Industry Relations for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), where she serves as a liaison with industry partners across the soybean value chain to establish and maintain stakeholder relationships, outreach and influence that benefit the ISA. She also works with FLM Harvest as Vice-President, Public Relations in conjunction with the ISA. Her professional career includes several public relations positions with food and agricultural-focused marketing and communications agencies. She is a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) and currently serves as President of the Chicago NAMA chapter. Jayma is a graduate of Iowa State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education and a secondary degree in International Agriculture.
Adam Bauer, Table Grove, grew up on a 1,000-acre row crop farm in west-central Illinois. He continues to farm and is also a Risk Management Analyst and is a Senior Hedge Advisor to Lakefront Futures. Adam’s professional career included work in the grain management and marketing sector. He has participated in international agriculture study trips to Australia and Russia. He has served a volunteer firefighter and is an alumnus of Alpha Gamma Rho. Adam received his Associates degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Spoon River College and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and Management from Western Illinois University.
Jared Brown, Springfield, is Marketing Manager for Brandt Consolidated. He manages the companies 20-race NASCAR sponsorship program, business to business relationships, as well as charitable events and agriculture outreach programs. Jared was a Section 14 President of the Illinois FFA and was a student representative for the State FFA Board of Directors. He was honored as the District III Star in Agribusiness. Jared has studied abroad with the University of Illinois College of ACES in Jamaica. He continues his work with the Athens FFA Alumni Chapter. He is an alumnus of the Farmhouse fraternity and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Consumer Economics from the University of Illinois.
Blair Bruns, Peoria, is a Territory Manager for Pioneer Seeds including the counties of Logan, Mason, Tazewell and western McLean. He also has worked with LG Seeds as a District Sales Manager. Blair continues to assist both in managing and working on his family’s 2,000-acre farm. Blair serves on the board of directors for the IlliDell of Alpha Gamma Sigma Agricultural Cooperative Fraternity Alumni Association. He is the current Chairman of the Logan County Farm Bureau Young Leaders. Blair received his Bachelor of Science in Crop Sciences with a concentration in crop agribusiness from the University of Illinois.
Joe Camp, Bloomington, is a Risk Management Specialist with AgriVisor, LLC focusing on brokerage operations support, commodity market research and commentary and is a grain pricing lead. Joe’s professional background also includes working for GROWMARK, Inc. as a Grain Associate and MID-CO Commodities as a Broker Assistant. Joe has served as a GROWMARK Ambassador, participated in the Marketers to Washington program. He is a recipient of the King-Mertz Award of Excellence for Research. He was president of the Eastern Illinois University Student Society for Economics. Joe attended Eastern Illinois University and received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics with cum laude degree of distinction, and received a Masters of Arts in Economics as a Patrick Lenihan Graduate Fellow in Economics.
Jason Czpaka, Munster, is the CASE IH Planting and Seeding Global Product Manager with CNH Industrial. His professional experience also includes being an Engineering Technical Specialist for Cummins, Inc. Jason has received several awards including the CNH Industrial Gold Performance Award. He also has been credited with several patents for fuel systems and multiple seed-type planting systems. He has used his expertise to provide input to the EPA and Canadian PMRA through the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Jason has traveled to over 20 countries for business and pleasure. He received a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering followed by a Master of Science in General Engineering from the University of Illinois.
Betsey Emerick, Vandalia, is a Financial Manager for Emerick Farms located in south central Illinois. Her professional experience also includes working as a Sales Assistant with John Deere for Emerick Brothers Inc. Betsey is a member of several organizations including the St. Louis Agribusiness Club, Fayette County Farm Bureau, Illinois Beef Association and National Cattleman’s Beef Association. Betsey and Emerick Farms also support the FamilyFarms Charities. She received her Associates in Arts from Rend Lake College and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Southern Illinois University.
Bruce Frank, Bettendorf, is Tactical Sales Manager Manager – Western Sales Region for Deere & Company. Since joining the company in 2008, Bruce has served as a Marketing Representative, Price and Market Analyst, Tillage Product Manager, and Territory Sales Manager. In addition to his time at Deere & Company, he served as Farm Manager for Frank Farms, Inc. He is involved with several organizations, including the Illinois Committee for Agriculture Education, is the Association President for the Illinois Farmhouse Fraternity Alumni Board, and is a past State Secretary for the Illinois FFA. Bruce received a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness, Farm, and Financial Management from the University of Illinois and a Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
Sean Goretskie, Northbrook, is a Sales Manager with Nutrien, prior he was an Agronomy Marketing Specialist and Customer Service Representative for the company. Sean is active with the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, championing 4R sustainability and conservation practices throughout the State of Illinois. Sean sits on the Research and Education Committee for the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation and is a member of the Cook County Farm Bureau. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Crop Science from the University of Illinois.
Brandon Groth, Sherrard is a Seed Advisor with Beck’s Hybrids. Since joining the company in 2009, he has received several awards recognizing his sales accomplishments with Beck’s. Brandon also worked for Eli Lilly and Company as Pharmaceutical Sales Professional. Over the years, his work experiences have allowed him to travel to several Latin America countries. He is a Master Mason of the Rio Illinois Masonic Lodge #685, serves on the Board of Trustees for Preemption United Methodist Church, is a Founding Father of Delta Chi Fraternity and served as a Student Body Senator with the Illinois State Student Government Association. He received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Illinois State University.
Scott Halpin, Gardner, is the owner and operator of Halpin Farms and Halpin Farms Cattle. He has extensive leadership experience with many agriculture organizations. He is the President of the Grundy County Farm Bureau. He is a former Board Director for the Illinois Agricultural Association, which includes the Illinois Farm Bureau and COUNTRY Financial family of companies. Scott was Chairman of the IFB Young Leaders and was Director of the Grundy County Soil and Water Conservation District. Scott is a past board member of the Illinois Holstein Association. He received an Associate Degree in Agriculture Production from Joliet Junior College and was an adjunct instructor for the college concerning dairy science.
Carl Herrmann, Hoyleton, is an Account Manager with Hog Slat Inc. and manages integrator accounts for The Maschhoffs LLC, the Equity and other producers in the central Midwest. Carl also has been employed with the Maschhoffs LLC as a Project Manager and was a Production Manager and Plant Superintendent with Land O’Lakes. Carl and his family have operated the Country Kids Pumpkin Patch for the past ten years. Carl is actively involved in his community, serving on the Hoyleton Community Club Board and is a past President of the Hoyleton Lion’s Club and is active with his children’s local FFA chapter. He received a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
Drew Hesker, Okawville, is the Director of Financial Planning & Analysis with the Maschhoffs, LLC. He also has served as an Associate Director In-Charge and Senior Accountant In-Charge since joining the company in 2007. Prior to his work with the Maschhoffs, LLC, he was a Staff Accountant for BKD, LLC. Drew serves on the Pork Management Conference Planning Committee, is a Trustee for the Village of Okawville and is on the board of the Okawville Community Youth Association. Drew received his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and Master of Science in Accountancy from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
Mark Inkrott, Dunlap, is the Founding Partner of the consulting and marketing firm Upfield Group, LLC. He has worked in marketing for Dairy Management Inc. in conjunction with several organizations including the NFL. Mark is a former professional football player with the New York Giants and the Carolina Panthers organizations. He has served on the NFL Alumni Relations Chicago Chapter Board of Directors, He holds a Bachelor of Science in English from Findlay University and a Master of Business Administration from Ohio Dominican University.
Jill Johnson, Springfield, is the Executive Vice-President and Director of Communications for the Illinois Beef Association. Her professional career also includes serving as a District Manager for Certified Hereford Beef. Jill presently serves as an advisor to the Illinois Junior Beef Association and is a member of several other ag organizations including the Sangamon County Farm Bureau and American Hereford Association. She received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Environmental Communications and Education from the University of Illinois.
Ellen Kamps, St. Charles, is the co-owner of Foxtrot Organic Farm, a diversified vegetable operation and farmer’s market. She is also the co-founder of the Chillinois Young Farmers Coalition for beginning farmers. She serves as Board Secretary for Literacy Volunteers of Fox Valley and donates her time to other community groups like the Kane County Farm Bureau Foundation. Ellen loves learning new languages and has traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia studying agriculture and politics. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication Studies from Northern Illinois University.
Jonah Kolb, Clinton, is a Managing Member of Moore and Warner Ag Group, LLC, where he focuses on farmland investing and agribusiness consulting. His professional career also has included work as an Analyst/Portfolio Acquisitions & Syndications for the global investment management firm, D.E. Shaw & Co, L.P. He serves as President of the Board of trustees for the Vespasian Warner Public Library District and serves on the Board of Administrators for the Warner Foundation. Jonah also is an Eagle Scout and was a Co-founder and President of the Food and Agribusiness Club at Northwestern University. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, summa cum laude, from Dartmouth College and a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.
Blake Lanphier, Lake Villa, is a Manager of Operations for Historic Wagner Farm in Glenview, focusing on daily operations and education programs. His professional career has included being an instruction leader at Iowa State University, along with animal sciences work and research at Apple Creek Whitetail Ranch and Windrush Farms in Wisconsin and Iowa respectively. Blake is a 4-H Leader with the Glenview Clovers and is a Lake County Livestock Committee member. He attended Winona State University and received his Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences from Iowa State University.
Sara Mitchell, Verona, is a Sales Team Leader and Insurance Officer with Compeer Financial. She also is a former Manager of the Hancock County Farm Bureau. She has served as a Board Director and Treasurer for the Grundy County Farm Bureau and was an IFB Strength and Advisory Team member. She has received several awards including the 2017 IFB Young Farmer State Discussion Meet Runner-up and was a national winner in the FFA’s Diversified Livestock Production Entrepreneurship Proficiency competition in 2007. She is the co-founder of the Think O.I.N.K. Program. Sara received her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Leadership Education from the University of Illinois.
Phil Montgomery, Kirkland, is a full-time farmer, custom fertilizer applicator, and a seasonal COUNTRY Financial Crop Claims Field Representative. He is a member of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Board and is a past Young Farmers Chairman. He serves on the Franklin Township Park Board and is active with the Kirkland Hiawatha FFA Alumni. He also is President of the DeKalb County Corn and Soybean Growers. Phil received the Lions Club’s highest honor, the Melvin Jones Fellow Award for his tornado and recovery efforts in Fairdale, Illinois in 2015. He received his Associates of Applied Science degree from Kishwaukee Community College.
Jack Powers, Clinton, is a Certified Crop Advisor with Harbrand, Inc., focusing on test plot management for new products, seed development, tillage, and fertilizer application practices. Jack works to combat nutrient loss and help producers improve sustainability practices, including water protection, to move agriculture forward. He also utilizes new technology, including being an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) specialist. He is a member of the DeWitt County Pheasants Forever and the Clinton Presbyterian Church. James received his Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Economics, Summa Cum Laude, from Southern Illinois University.
Kris Reynolds, Nokomis, is a farmer and the Midwest Deputy Director for American Farmland Trust. His professional background also includes work as a Resource Conservationist with the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District. Kris is a Certified Crop Advisor and an American Agronomy Society 4R Certified Nutrient Management Specialist and Sustainability Specialist. He is a Director of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau and Treasurer of the Trinity Lutheran Board of Education. Kris holds an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Lincoln Land Community College and Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness and Ag Industry Management from Illinois State University.
Mike Schweitzer, Malta, is a sixth-generation farmer. His professional experience also involved work with John Deere through Adecco Technical. Mike has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Executive Committee, is involved in government relations with the Activator program, and chaired the Health and Safety Committee. Mike is a member of the DeKalb County Corn and Soybean Growers and was Vice-President of the organization. He also serves on the Eswood School Board. Mike received a Bachelor of Science in Technical Systems Management from the University of Illinois.
Rich Selinger, Mt. Pulaski, is an Account Manager with Rosens, Inc. He manages and operates a Christmas tree farm which has been in his family for over 50 years. Rich’s career includes being a Location Manager and Sales Lead with the HGN Maroa Ag Center and he was a Crop Specialist with Lakeland FS. He is an Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association member, a 15-year Certified Crop Advisor, and is an avid rugby player and current President of the Mt. Pulaski Athletic Association. Rich received an Associate Degree of Science from Lincolnland Community College and a Bachelor of Sciences in Crop Science from the University of Illinois.
Caleb Shull, Pinckneyville, is the Director of Research and Development with the Maschhoffs, LLC. He has received several recognitions and awards, including the American Society of Animal Sciences (ASAS) Undergraduate Scholar Award, the Department of Animal Science Fellowship Award, and was a member of the National Champion Intercollegiate Meats Judging team. Caleb is a member of the American Society of Animal Sciences. He is also active in his local church. Caleb received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Finance, a Master of Science in Animal Sciences and a Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois.
Heather Spray, West Salem, is a Quality Management System Manager with Ag Reliant Genetics, LLC. She also is a co-owner of Joy Lane Produce and Spray Farms. Heather is a Certified Crop Advisor. Heather recently served on the University of Illinois Crop Science Advisory Board. She is a current member of the Edwards County Farm Bureau Young Leaders Program. She is active with the Zion United Methodist Church and served as Chair of the church’s Administrative Board. Heather received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois and was awarded the Bronze Tablet.
Josh Turney, Clinton, is the Founder and Chief Strategist for his media advertising agency, Rooster Strategic Solutions, LLC. He has further professional experience in media and served in several facets as a Director and Manager with Farm Journal Media. He worked closely with many national agriculture accounts focusing on multimedia advertising campaigns. Josh currently is involved with the Christian Children’s Mission in Africa and serves as President of the Board for the mission, known as the Children of Pokot Education Fund. He received a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Illinois State University.
Andy Wold, Leland, is the General Manager of Leland Farmers’ Grain Company. He also is the owner of the specialized risk management company, Producers’ Hedge, LLC, and is the owner of Andy Wold Construction, LLC. He is a member of the Leland CUSD #1 School Board and is a Director of the LaSalle County Cattleman’s Association. Andy is a former volunteer fireman for the Leland Fire Department where he received Fireman of the Year honors and was President of the Association. Andy is a past Adams Township Trustee, He received a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences from Texas A & M University.
Deanna Zwicker, Orion, is a Senior Grain Marketing Advisor for Cargill, Inc. She is the recipient of the 2017 Cargill North America President’s Award for Highest Performing Sales Individual. Deanna also has worked on recruitment initiatives with Iowa State University. She is active in giving back to the Rock Island County 4-H program and advocates on behalf of the Lymphoma Research Foundation. While attending Augustana College, she was elected Vice-President of the Student Body and is currently the Class Representative for the Class of 2011. Deanna also has been involved with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business Administration from Augustana College.