2018 Convention Keynote Speakers
PRESIDENT ROGER JOHNSON
Roger Johnson is president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), a grassroots organization that represents more than 200,000 family farmers, ranchers, fisherman and rural communities across the Unites States.
Johnson was elected to lead the family farm organization at NFU’s 107th anniversary convention in 2009. He has since expanded the education department by providing more programs for beginning, college-aged and women farmers, increased the number of Farmers Union state divisions, and developed a strategic plan for the organization. Johnson has also overseen a number of important policy initiatives important to family farmers including: passage of the 2014 Farm Bill; maintaining a strong Renewable Fuel Standard and Country-of-Origin Labeling, promoting policies that allow farmers to address the growing threat of climate change; and renewing the nation’s focus on eliminating an overwhelming trade deficit that results in lost jobs and prosperity for rural America.
Prior to leading National Farmers Union, Johnson, a third-generation family farmer from Turtle Lake, N.D., served as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, a position he was first elected to in 1996. While Agriculture Commissioner, Johnson served on the State Industrial Commission, the North Dakota Trade Office Advisory Board, and the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education, among many other boards and commissions.
Marci Penner is the executive director of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation, and author, speaker, promoter and supporter of rural Kansas. Marci and her dad founded the 501c3 non-profit in 1993 after traveling the state to write three guidebooks. Addressing two main issues observed on their early travels, the mission is to preserve and sustain rural culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and networking and supporting rural communities.
Some of the better known projects are the Kansas Sampler Festival, the Big Kansas Road Trip, the Kansas Explorers Club, 8 Wonders of Kansas, the PowerUp Movement, the We Kan! conference, the Big Rural Brainstorm, and two editions of the Kansas Guidebook for Explorers. Marci and co-author WenDee Rowe went to every one of the 626 incorporated cities in Kansas to research for their latest guidebook.
Ron Wilson is director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University in Manhattan. He has a B.S. in Agricultural Education and a Masters in Mass Communications from K-State. He became a legislative assistant to Senator Nancy Kassebaum in Washington D.C., a staff member for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, and vice president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. In 1985, he returned to Kansas to become a vice president of the Farm Credit Bank of Wichita and in 1990 became director of the Huck Boyd Institute. He lives on the family ranch near Manhattan.
Ron has written and produced more than 1,000 features about small town Kansas entrepreneurs and community leaders through his weekly radio program and news column called “Kansas Profile.” In 2018, he was named by Ingram’s Magazine as one of 50 Kansans You Should Know.