Friday: Speaker Bios

The day begins with key findings from KRC’s Feeding Kansas report; an exploration of a potential Kansas aqueduct; and the nuts & bolts of starting a local food co-op. NFU’s Chandler Goule gives updates from D.C. and GIPSA Administrator Larry Mitchell provides the keynote during lunch. A panel discusses ag advocacy and 2015 Family Farm Legislative Day plans are shared. Cody Holmes provides inspiration for farm transition then details on farm succession planning workshops are presented. Following the banquet, National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson considers Feeding 9 Billion and cowboy musician Jeff Davidson entertains.

Leon Atwell

Leon Atwell began coaching managers and executives in the early 90’s. His work has since evolved into helping business, community leaders and governing boards strengthen their capacity to lead. He has coached leaders of corporate, family, transition, high growth and startup enterprises through complex issues and brought leadership improvements to non-profit, healthcare and development entities. Leon recently co-founded Advancing Rural [...]

Forrest Buhler

Forrest Buhler is Staff Attorney for the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services (KAMS), a program administered through K-State Research and Extension at Kansas State University. Forrest has been staff attorney for KAMS since 1995, and prior to that for the Farmers Assistance Counseling and Training Service from 1987 to 1995. He taught the undergraduate course in Agricultural Law and Economics at [...]

Cole Cottin

Cole Cottin is the primary writer and analyst for the newly released report Feeding Kansas: A Statewide Farm & Food System Assessment with Recommendations for Public Action. Cole is a Program Coordinator at the Kansas Rural Center (KRC), where she helps lead the organization’s local/regional food system and specialty crop programs. She views food as medicine and is passionate about [...]

Jeff Davidson

Jeff Davidson has worked for K-State Research and Extension 37 years after serving two years with the Idaho Extension Service. Land grant colleges have been Davidson's life, and he emphasizes their importance in the development of Kansas. After teaching and calling for square dances for 6 years, he became the entertainer for the Flint Hills Overland wagon train, serving for [...]

Jeffrey L. Downing

Jeff Downing is general manager of the Midwest Agency LLP. Jeff grew up in a small rural town in Iowa. He and his parents moved off the farm and into town when he was 14. While in high school and college, Jeff spent his summers and weekends working for area farmers until he completed his bachelor’s degree from Northwest Missouri [...]

Mary Fund

Mary Fund is the Program and Policy Director for the Kansas Rural Center and has worked at KRC on conservation, natural resource and agricultural policy issues for nearly 30 years. She has also monitored state and federal farm and resource policy for many of those years, and worked on various advocacy projects at KRC. These include the farm crisis organizing [...]

Chandler Goule

Chandler Goule was promoted to National Farmers Union’s senior vice president of programs in 2014. Goule began his career with NFU in November 2009 as the vice president of government relations. Goule previously served as the staff director of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture under former chairman Rep. Collin C. Peterson, [...]

Linda Hessman

Linda Hessman is a generational farmer’s daughter. She married into a generational farm family from Dodge City where she and her husband Jerry farmed and raised a cow herd in a family partnership for 34 years. She is a Certified Mediator specializing in ag issues as well as a national Farm Aid Advocate. Linda received the prestigious KFU Ruth Hirsch [...]

Cody Holmes

Cody Holmes left home in 1975 at age 17 with his high school 4-H project of seven cows. That project has grown into what the Rockin H Ranch is today: a 1,000-acre cow/calf operation, on-farm market, cowsmilk and goatsmilk dairy, and cheesemaking operation. Cody and his wife Dawnnell operate an agri-tourism business on top of the base business of the [...]

Rachel Myslivy

Rachel Myslivy is a Program Director for the Climate + Energy Project where she directs the Water + Energy Progress initiative. Rachel is a co-founder of the Kansas Women's Environmental Network, co-chair of the St. John School Green Team (2013 Green School of the Year), an active member of LETUS and a recipient of the 2013 KU Sustainability Leadership Award. Rachel holds an MA in Religious Studies [...]

Ed Reznicek

Ed Reznicek raises beef cattle and organic crops on a 400 acre farm in Nemaha County Kansas and has worked with farmers and farm organizations for over 30 years. He grew up on a mixed livestock and grain farm in central Kansas. Ed graduated from Emporia State University in 1976 with degrees in Philosophy and German. After leaving college Ed [...]

Mark Rude

Mark Rude is Executive Director, Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 3.  He grew up in Wichita spending weekends on the family farm near Rose Hill.  Mark holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from Wichita State University and is a licensed geologist in the State of Kansas.  He has worked water rights and water supply issues in Kansas [...]

Chris Schimdt

Chris Schimdt arms and ranches in far Northwest Kansas, near Atwood where they raise corn, wheat, cane and have a cow herd and stocker operation. Chris and his wife, Sherri, were instrumental in the formation of the High Plains Food Coop of which they are charter members. They market all natural beef, free range chickens and eggs through the Coop [...]

Chris Sramek

Chris Sramek, Atwood, KS, is a meteorologist, farmer and business coach for aspiring rural entrepreneurs. Served as Rawlins County Economic Development Director from summer 2005 to early 2009, where countless programs and new initiatives were implemented to create a more entrepreneurial environment for HomeTown of Atwood, Kansas.  One of these accomplishments included, in partnership with several Kansas and Colorado colleagues, [...]

Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson, of Manhattan, KS, is executive director of the Kansas Aqueduct Coalition, a coalition of interested persons and organizations recently formed to explore potential for water transfer in Kansas. Wilson is also a farmer and rancher and attorney. She and husband Ron and their children operate the family ranch in Riley County. Their operation includes raising purebred and commercial [...]