Wednesday Guest Speakers

Opener: Cultivating Confidence in Your Roles and Harvesting the Ripple Effect

Andrea Flemming is proud to be a part of the 2 percent of the U.S. population who are farmers. Andrea is the founder of That Fit Agvocate and partner in Severtson Farm. She is passionate about sharing her story in agriculture to bridge the gap between producers and consumers and becoming a resource for farmers and ranchers. Andrea offers consulting, teaching, speaking, brand development, merchandise, and more through her business. She is a 5th generation farmer in southern Minnesota where she and her mom recently expanded the beef cattle operation. Andrea is a graduate of South Dakota State University.



Legacy Stories of Leasing, Conservation and Succession

Emily Boettcher manages a 75-head cow-calf herd at Boettcher Farms. She and her family utilize strip-till, no-till and cover crops to protect the Big Spirt Lake Watershed in Dickinson County. In her family’s Northwest Seed business, Emily runs the seed treater and maintains a seed treatment certificate. She is a 2020 ISU Extension and Outreach Women Impacting Agriculture honoree. Emily’s community involvement includes the Dickinson County Farm Bureau, Blue Water Festival, Spirit Lake High School, and slow-pitch softball. Emily earned a BS in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Northwestern College in 2009. She enjoys fishing and vacationing with her family.

Catherine DeLong is the Water Quality Program Manager for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She works statewide to bring people together to share resources, ideas, and perspectives about water quality, and to help Iowans understand the role they can play in Iowa’s water future. She has an MS degree in Soil Science from Iowa State University, and a BA in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Catherine has experience at all levels of conservation, having previously worked for the county-level Soil and Water Conservation Districts as well as an international non-profit serving conservation professionals.

Kitt Tovar Jensen is a Staff Attorney at ISU’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation. She focuses on areas of agricultural law including farm succession planning, environmental and natural resource law, regulatory law, and farm policy. Kitt also manages the ISU Beginning Farmer Center. Kitt earned her BS in Animal Science from Iowa State University and her JD, with honors, from Drake University while completing certificates in Food and Agricultural Law and Legislative Practice.

Monica Lursen is an alumnus of Iowa State University. Her career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist spanned 46 years. She is a 2020 ISU Extension and Outreach Women Impacting Agriculture honoree. After Monica’s husband’s death in 2011, she took over management of the family business that began in 1946. She is actively transitioning Lursen Farms and Lursen Trucking, LLC to her sons. Monica chaired the  ISU College of Human Sciences Council from 2017 to 2019, is a member of the Order of the Knoll, and is one of 39 ‘Faces of Iowa State’ portraits painted by Rose Franzen in 2017.

Melissa O’Rourke is an attorney and owner of Dry Creek Acres. She is a 2023 ISU Extension and Outreach Women Impacting Agriculture honoree.  As an attorney, Melissa practiced in the fields of business and estate planning, human resources, and commercial litigation. Melissa and her husband raised registered Toggenburg dairy goats for three decades and received the American Dairy Goat Association Herd of Distinction award in 2021. She was an ISU Extension and Outreach Farm and Agribusiness Management Specialist from 2009 to 2023; where she taught Annie’s Project courses and informed farmers and agribusiness owners on an expansive array of topics.

Amy Tlach owns Mid-Iowa Seeds where she lives the mission of improving customer yields and delivering top notch customer service. She is a 2017 ISU Extension and Outreach Women Impacting Agriculture honoree. Amy previously worked at the Iowa Soybean Association. She served over 16 years on the Warren County Extension Council, as well as serving as Warren County Fair Board superintendent. Amy was instrumental in passing the Warren County Extension and Outreach tax referendum in 2015. As a mom, Amy is a role model for two girls who will be leaders of the next generation of agriculture.

Generations of Wisdom

Emma Aljets is a Financial Officer with Farm Credit Services of America in Southwest Iowa. She is a 2022 graduate of Iowa State University.

Lauren Botine is a Technical Agronomist for Channel at Bayer Crop Science. She earned a MS of Agronomy at Iowa State University.

Stephanie Vinton-Pollock is a Financial Officer with Farm Credit Services of America in Southwest Iowa. She is a 2003 graduate of Iowa State University.

Real Colors, Real Leadership

Lori Korthals has a doctorate in education leadership with research focusing on the impact of temperament on mentoring relationships. She supervises human sciences extension educators across the state of Iowa and is passionate about growing and empowering others. You will frequently hear Lori say she has the ‘best job ever’ and follows up with #WeAreOne. Lori lives in Orange City, Iowa and has three ‘launched’ daughters. She is an avid Audible book user and thinks someday she might like to learn to knit; names of tutors are welcomed.







Market Your Grain with Experience

Lynn Martz and her family operate Larson Farms Partnership near Maple Park, Illinois. She met her husband, Mike, while attending the University of Wisconsin. Lynn sold veterinary supplies while Mike raised cattle. They joined her family’s partnership in 1988. Lynn manages the grain side of the business, which grows corn, soybeans and wheat. She enjoys working alongside multiple generations including her son, Justin, and his family. She is responsible for marketing the crops, as well as logistics, financing, and landowner relationships. Lynn is treasurer of both the DeKalb County Soil and Water District and the Waterman United Methodist Church.






Thursday Guest Speakers

University Welcome

Jamie Benning is the assistant director for Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension at Iowa State University. She leads a team of 150 Agriculture and Natural Resources extension specialists. She advances important issues such as water quality, farm management and profitability, and the education and information that the farm community needs. Prior to her role in administration, Jamie served as the ISU Water Quality Program Manager. Jamie earned a BS in Agronomy and a MS in Soil Science at Iowa State Univeristy. A Northeast Iowa native, Jamie was raised on a grain and livestock farm near Wadena.

Keynote: Groundbreaking Stories

Sara Wyant is an award-winning agricultural journalist, entrepreneur and founder of Agri-Pulse Communications Inc., a unique digital media firm she launched in 2004 to focus on farm, food and rural policy issues. As Editor-in-Chief, she oversees the nation’s largest team of agricultural journalists covering Capitol Hill and Sacramento, California. An investigative reporter who has written many groundbreaking stories, Wyant has covered almost every farm and food policy debate since the 1980s. She is well-recognized on Capitol Hill, as well as by farm, ranch and commodity associations across the country, as a veteran journalist and sought-after speaker. Throughout her career, Wyant has been a trailblazer through several glass ceilings. In 1995, she was the first female to be named to the senior management team in agricultural publishing as vice president for editorial at Farm Progress. She served as the first female chairwoman on the Farm Foundation’s board of trustees and as president of the American Agricultural Editors Association, where she also earned an Oscar in Agriculture award for excellence in agricultural reporting. Wyant was named to Folio’s “Top Women in Media” in the Entrepreneurs category in 2015. A graduate of Iowa State University, Wyant gained first-hand knowledge of crop and livestock production while growing up on a century farm near Marengo, Iowa, which she now owns and manages. She and husband Allan Johnson also own the farm where her husband’s family originally established a homestead near Almont, North Dakota. They are the parents of two sons and three grandchildren.


Advancing in Your Career

Laura Blomme is an Executive Recruiter at Hedlin Ag Enterprises. She previously worked for DuPont Pioneer, first as the Commercial Unit Digital Sales Lead for Encirca Services and then as a Territory Sales Manager for Pioneer Seed. Prior to that she was the Director of Marketing for Balzer Inc., an equipment manufacturer. Before joining Balzer, Laura held roles in sales, training management, and marketing at Kinze Manufacturing. Laura was born and raised on a family farm in Illinois. She played basketball at Truman State University and earned an MBA at the University of Iowa. Laura and her husband farm with their four daughters.

Empowering the Next Generation of Family Agribusiness Owners

Chris Cornelius is co-owner of Cornelius Seed located near Bellevue, Iowa. A native Iowan, Cornelius grew up on a diversified farm in Guttenberg, Iowa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in ag journalism from Iowa State University in 1983. Alongside her husband, Chuck, and their two sons, Will and James, and daughter-in-law Janie, she co-owns and manages her family’s independent, fifth generation seed business. The business is celebrating 88 years of success. She recently served as president of the Independent Professional Seed Association. Chris is also an active partner in their farming entity, Cornelius Land & Cattle.






Women Leading Agricultural Organizations

Trish Cook is the President of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. She and her husband, Aaron, run their family farm in Buchanan County. It includes a 1,200-sow, farrow-to-finish pig farm and they also grow corn and soybeans. They were recognized as Iowa Master Pork Producers, Pork All-Americans, and also received the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award. Trish has served on the IPPA board of directors since 2019, working on several IPPA committees and participating in the Iowa Pork Leadership Academy and the Pork Leadership Institute. Trish has an accounting degree from Iowa State University and an MBA from the University of Iowa.






Shelly Kruse is Chair of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, one of the largest agribusiness associations in the U.S. As GROWMARK’s Executive Director, she works with Canadian members and Southern States Incorporated. During her 39 years with the company, she represented GROWMARK on 25 separate boards of directors and served in multiple company roles. Shelly grew up on her grandparents’ farm in Illinois. She holds a BS in Business from Lewis University and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. Shelly and her husband, Jim, reside in Waverly, Iowa. They have five grown children and eleven grandchildren.




Jolene Riessen is the Iowa Corn Growers Association President and previously served as the National Corn Growers Association President. Jolene farms in Northwest Iowa with her two sons, Cory and Lee. Their operation consists of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, custom cattle feeding and a cow/calf herd. She gained experience in different ag related jobs that compliments her farm roots. Jolene serves as an Ida County District Soil Commissioner and served on the Governor’s task force for carbon sequestration. Jolene is an advocate for what farmers are doing to help improve water quality and received the NCGA 2023 Corn Advocate of the Year award.

Financing Business Start-Ups

Mikayla Mooney is a founder and investor in Iowa. She was co-founder and CEO of KinoSol, a food technology company focused on reducing food waste. She was the Senior Associate at ISA Ventures, Iowa’s first multi-stage venture capital studio. Today, she is consulting throughout the Iowa startup community, and loves working with early-stage founders. In her free time, she can often be found training for half Ironman races or planning her next international adventure!






Katie Olthoff is a long-time advocate for agriculture and the co-founder of ChopLocal. Previously, she served as the Sr. Director of Communications at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Katie is the author of a non-fiction children’s book series about agriculture: the My Family’s Farm series. She resides in Stanhope, IA with her husband, Bart, and 3 kids. Her family raises cattle and turkeys.






Shelby Smith founded Gyn-N-Eat Crickets in 2018. She grew up on the family farm while competing in soccer, basketball, swimming, diving, and power tumbling. She played basketball at Saint Joseph’s University, then traveled to Ireland to be part of the Sport Changes Life program and earn an MSC of Finance at Trinity College Dublin. She gained experience at the National Bank of Canada before returning home and exploring niche farming. When she is not tending to daily cricket chores or trying out new flavors of protein bars, she can be found hiking, biking, running, and lifting heavy weights.

Conflict Imagery: Developing a Reflective Framework 

Kiley Fleming is the Executive Director for Iowa Mediation Service and the founder of outSIGHTin. In these roles, she oversees statewide mediation and conflict management efforts, and she provides consultation services through private individual and group coaching. Kiley’s passion is to help people reach their fullest potential through reflective practices that encourage self-awareness. She is the author of a new book, Conflict Imagery: Developing a Reflective Framework. As a certified life coach with a Professional in Human Resources designation, Kiley helps individuals and groups align with their purpose so that situations involving conflict can serve as growth opportunities for change.






Women and Financial Security

Erin Herbold-Swalwell is the Senior Counsel for Advanced Markets at Farm Bureau Financial Services. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and earned her JD at the  University of Iowa College of Law in 2006.

Amanda Van Steenwyk is the Farm Business Development Manager at Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. She received her MS in Agricultural Education from Iowa State University in 2018.

Capstone: Harvesting happiness with 20 Years of Annie’s Project

Ruth Hambleton is the founder of Annie’s Project – Education for Farm Women and serves as the Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the charitable organization. The program is modeled after the life of her mother, Annette Kohlhagen Fleck. With a passion of providing women in agriculture with resources, she designed the educational program based on her experiences as an educator and growing up on a dairy farm in Illinois. She recognized farm women were interested in learning more about business management and marketing. In 2011, the White House named Ruth as a “Champion of Change” and appointed her to the White House Rural Committee. Following her father’s passing in 2014, Ruth accepted responsibility as the new manager of the family farm trust that preserves the legacy that Annie and her husband Frank Fleck worked towards.