2017 Commodity Conference


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Kevin Folta

Dr. Kevin Folta is a professor in and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He got his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998, and he has worked at the University of Wisconsin before settling in at the University of Florida. Dr. Folta reasearches the functional genomics of small fruit crops, the plant transformation, the genetic basis of flavors, and studies at photomorphogenesis and flowering. He has also written many publications and edited books, most recently was the 2011 Genetics, Genomics, and Breeding of Berries. Dr. Folta received the NSF CAREER Award, an HHMI Mentoring Award and was recognized as "University of Florida Foundation Research Professor" in 2010. 

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Audrey Gamble

Dr. Audrey Gamble is the new Soil Science Specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Her extension program will focus on identifying conservation cropping systems to improve soil quality in the state of Alabama.

Dr. Gamble grew up on her family's peanut and cotton farm in Headland, Alabama. she obtained her Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and Master's degree in Agronomy and Soils from Auburn University. She then went on to earn a PhD in Environmental Soil Chemistry at the University of Delaware. 

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Rocky Lemus

Dr. Lemus' extension and research programs focus on nutrient management of bioenergy crops, establishment and management of forage cultivars, alfalfa competition with warm-season perennial grasses, winter annual grasses, forage quality, nitrogen use efficiency in forage system, legume compatibility systems, weed control of invasive species in pastures and management strategies for year-round grazing. He has co-authored 11 referred journal articles, 1 book translation, 1 book chapter, 52 abstracts, 28 extension publications, 58 monthly newsletters, over 50 radio programs, and numerous interviews and popular magazine articles. He has received several awards including the 2012 Early-Career Award in Technology Transfer (American Society of Agronomy-Southern Branch), the 2011 Wesley Farmer Outstanding Specialist (Mississippi Association of County Agricultural Agents) and the 2011 Gamma Sigma Delta Extension Award of Merit (Mississippi Chapter). He serves as a peer reviewer for multiple scientific journals including Agronomy, Crop Science, Soil Science, Forage and Grazinglands, and Bioenergy Research among others. In the last 5 years, Dr. Lemus has been able to successfully secure over $550,000 in research grants. Lemus also provides academic advising to four graduate students and serves in graduate, university, regional and national committees. 

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Graeme Lockaby

Dr. B. Graeme Lockaby is the Associate Dean for Research for the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University. He has a Ph.D. in Agronomy from Mississippi State University as well as M.S. and B.S. in Forestry from Clemson University. His research interests include biogeochemistry of foodplain forests and effects of urban sprawl on water quality. He has been awarded the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member (Auburn University) in 2006, the National Wetlands Award for Science Research in 2003, and the Gulf Guardian Award in 2003.

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Hunter McBrayer

Hunter McBrayer is the Urban Regional Extension Agent serving Marshall and DeKalb Counties. Having grown up on a beef cattle, hay, poultry and meat goat farm operation, it was only natural that a career in agriculture was in store. After earning a B.S. in Biology from The University of Alabama, Hunter began his Extension career in one of two Extension Plant Pathology Laboratories, helping homeowners and farmers alike troubleshoot plant problems. After two years in the lab, the opportunity to serve his home county came open and he has been serving there since 2015. As the Urban Regional Extension Agent, Hunter serves on the Home Horticulture and Animal Science teams. The focus of the Urban Unit is to serve non-traditional farmers. new and beginning farmers, and to work with non-traditional livestock, including small ruminants and small scale poultry production. Hunter owns a small meat goat operation with his wife, Brooke and their four dogs. In addition to his work for Alabama Extension, Hunter is one of two Extension agents in the country serving on the National Extension Innovation Task force. He is an active member of the Alfa Farmers Young Farmers Committee and a participant of the Agricultural Leaders for Alabama Class IV. He is also currently pursuing a M.S. in Plant and Soil Science from Alabama A&M University.  

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Kim Mullenix

Dr. Kim Mullenix is an Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist of Beef Cattle Systems in the Department of Animal Sciences at Auburn University. She is originally from Newnan, Georgia and is the 5th generation of her family farm which consists of small commercial cow-calf and hay operations. 

She completed her B.S. in Animal Sciences in 2008 and M.S. in Animal Sciences with an emphasis in ruminant nutrition in 2010 from Auburn University. In fall 2013, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Florida with a major in Agronomy and a minor in Agricultural Education and Communication. Her extension and research program priorities are 1) the identification of strategies to optimize the use of forage management and supplementation where economical to improve the efficiency of beef cattle systems and 2) applied beef cattle management. 

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Reid Redden

Dr. Reid Redden is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist. His primary responsibility is to develop and support educational programs that benefit the state sheep and goat industry. Texas has the most sheep and goats of any state in the nation ans has a long history as a leader in this industry. Redden's programs are designed to provide solutions to current problems facing sheep and goat raisers. In addition, he strives to develop programs that will assist the industry reach new milestones. Educational programs not only focus on improving existing sheep and goat operations, but assist in the development of the next generation of sheep and goat ranchers. Redden works hard to bring all aspects of the industry together so that it continues to build upon a vibrant sheep and goat industry. Redden's responsibilities do not have a research component; however, he serves as a liaison between the research community that develops technology and the commercial industries that use it. 

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Max Runge

Max Runge has worked for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for over 22 years in the Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Department at Auburn University. Max received his Bachelors in Agricultural Business and Economics as well as his Masters of Business Administration from Auburn University.

His experience ranges from research assistant, to county extension agent, as well as teaching classes at Auburn University. In his current work he is an Extension Specialist and team leader for the Farm and Agribusiness Management Extension Team. Max is responsible for the Row Crop enterprise budgets and the weekly market update newsletter, Profit Profiles

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Kent Stanford

Kent Stanford began his career with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in 1995, based out of St. Clair County. He has served as an Agent Assistant, County Extension Agent, Regional Extension Agent and now Extension Specialist. The emphasis for his program has centered on livestock and forage production. Stanford's most recent work includes nutrient management for livestock and poultry growers, with an emphasis on best management practices for environmental stewardship. His presentations involve the practical considerations producers must focus on when setting goals and making decisions for their operation.

A native of Pine Apple, Alabama; Stanford earned a B.S. in Animal Science from Auburn University and a M.S. in Education from the University of West Alabama. He and his wife Amy have two children, Ross (16) and Callie (14) and reside in Ashville, Alabama. 

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Jean Weese

Dr. Weese is the Associate Director for the Auburn University Food Systems Institute. Weese has been crucial in establishing AUFSI's credibility and international reputation, she serves as a food safety specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, spent countless hours coordinating several outreach projects between AUFSI and Extension personnel, coordinated food safety training for seafood processors and has led the AUFSI and Extension personnel, coordinated food safety training for seafood processors and has led the AUFSI Entrepreneur Working Group.

The Food Entrepreneur Working Group is a collaboration between the AU colleges of agriculture and business, the Small Business Development Center and Alabama regulatory personnel. The group plans and provides speakers for an annual conference for those who want to start a food business. Weese has spent 29 years as a professor in the Auburn University Department of Poultry Science, researching a variety of food safety issues in the food processing and service industries and teaching a gamut of food science courses - everything from food chemistry to plant sanitation. As an Extension food safety specialist, Weese helps farmers, processors and aspiring food entrepreneurs through courses such as the Better Process Control School for processors of low-acid and acidified canned foods and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for farmers. She has even worked with school lunch programs to improve their quality and variety of food. 


Credit: Karen Hunley 

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Carissa Wickens
Dr. Carissa Wickens is an Assistant Professor and Extension Equine Specialist at the University of Florida, Department of Animal Sciences. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Animal Science from Michigan State University, and completed her PhD in Animal Science at Michigan State University (2009) with emphasis on stereotypic behaviors in horses. Prior to her position at the University of Florida, Dr. Wickens served as an Assistant Professor and Equine Extension Specialist with the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Delaware (2009-2013) where she taught undergraduate equine science courses and provided educational resources and programming for Delaware equine owners. Dr. Wickens’s extension areas address expanding education experiences in equine behavior and welfare, management, and nutrition. Her specific areas of research include associations between management and stereotypic behaviors in horses, environmental impact of equine operations, and human-horse interactions.