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Presenter Biography's

Kevin Spafford, Event Partner

Just prior to the publication of his book Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners (Marketplace Books®) in 2006, Kevin founded Legacy by Design, a succession planning firm dedicated exclusively to serving the succession planning needs of farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness owners. Since then, he’s identified strategies and spearheaded initiatives to help America’s farm families plan for success.

As the architect, talent, and creative resource behind the Farm Journal Legacy Project, Kevin effected consumer behavior and improved the way farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness owners engage in the succession planning process. Over the last 8 years, Kevin has:

  • Been published more than 300 times in the Ag industry’s leading magazines.
  • Facilitated more than 100 live presentations across the U.S. to 10,000+ participants.
  • Written multiple workbooks and created approximately 50 original client engagement tools.
  • Produced 250 weekly eNews pieces which were distributed to recipients across the U.S.
  • Hosted/wrote/co-produced 5 seasons of ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV.

Today, as a succession planning consult and wealth manager, Kevin serves client families throughout California.

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Dr. John Unruh, Dean, CSU, Chico, College of Agriculture

John Unruh, chair of the Food Science Undergraduate Program at Kansas State University, has been named dean of the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico

Unruh holds a doctorate degree in animal sciences and industry with an emphasis in meat science and beef production from Kansas State University. He grew up on a diversified crop and registered cattle farm near Warden, Washington, and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal sciences from Washington State University. He has taught in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University since 1988, and in 2009 was appointed chair of the Food Science Undergraduate Program.

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Roland Fumasi, Ph.D.

Vice President and Senior Analyst, Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory at Rabobank

Roland has a background in agribusiness research with international market development and finance experience in the agriculture industry.

Fumasi was raised on a dairy and farming operation in the Sacramento Valley, and served as the Californian State FFA President before attending Cal Poly, where he received both his BS and MS in Agribusiness. Roland completed his PhD in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University in 2013.

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Allan Fulton, Tehama, Glenn, Colusa & Shasta Farm Advisor

Allan Fulton has worked as an Irrigation and Water Resources Farm Advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension for 28 years. He is headquartered in Red Bluff, California and serves a four county area that includes Tehama, Glenn, Colusa and Shasta counties. Allan's research and education program aims to support production agriculture and encourage efficient use of water. He is part of a Unversity of California research and extension team who has developed the pressure chamber and midday stem water potential as a water management tool in orchards. Recognizing some of its limitations and the expanding interest in tools that can help assess orchard water status, Allan is now researching alternative techniques to monitor orchard water status.
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Jack Coots, Regional Director, Farm Data Systems, Inc.

Supporting growers through education and professional services to make the best on-farm decisions through water system management that optimizes sustainable resource management and plant health in Northern California.

Jack’s core background and experience is in water management systems, on-farm communication systems and soil / plant / water relationships. Jack has over 35 years of experience working with growers optimizing water delivery systems and resources for irrigation management.

Jack is an alumnus of the California Agricultural Leadership Program and the UC Davis

Executive Management Program.

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Bob Coates, Associate Development Engineer, UC Davis

Bob has worked for over 11 years on development of precision irrigation, fertigation, and fumigation systems in agriculture. He recently cofounded SenseTerra LLC to commercialize a low cost sensor network for agricultural, environmental, and research monitoring applications. The goal is to provide a simple technology solution to help growers use natural resources and human labor more efficiently. Bob earned his master’s degree in Biological Systems Engineering at UC Davis.

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Barry J. Bedwell, President, CA Ag Leadership Foundation

Barry Bedwell has been president since August of 2016 of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation. Previously beginning in 2003, he was president of the California Fresh Fruit Association (formerly known as the California Grape & Tree Fruit League), a voluntary nonprofit agricultural association specializing in public policy issues representing the approximate $2.5 billion fresh table grape and deciduous tree fruit communities in California. The Association is one of the oldest agricultural trade associations in California with its origins dating back to 1921.

Bedwell was born and raised in Madera, California, graduated from California State University, Fresno, in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1977. He served for thirteen years as the president of Allied Grape Growers, a statewide grower’s marketing cooperative, until 2000 when he moved on to become general manager of Ciatti Grape Brokerage in San Rafael.
Bedwell was a member of Class 13 of the California Agricultural Leadership Program and sits on the President’s Commission on Agriculture at Fresno State, Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s President’s Council and the Chancellor’s Agricultural Advisory Committee for California State University. He also served as a director for eight years for the United Fresh Produce Association and as a director-at-large for fourteen years of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG).

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John Hewlett, Ranch/Farm Management Specialist, Univ. of WY

John Hewlett is a Ranch/Farm Management Specialist at the University of Wyoming and member of the regional RightRisk and Risk Navigator teams. He also coordinated past efforts of the regional WIRE program. He grew up in Washington State, where he worked eight years (four as foreman) on a large stocker-cattle/crop operation. John holds a BS degree in Agricultural Business from Montana State University and a M.S. degree in Agricultural Economics from Oregon State University.

He came to the University of Wyoming, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in 1987. Since then he has been involved in a number of state and regional extension programs, receiving two Agricultural & Applied Economics Association awards for professional excellence, five Western Agricultural Economics Association awards for outstanding extension programs, three Western Extension Directors awards of excellence, two UW Cooperative Extension awards for creative excellence, the Jim DeBree Excellence in Cooperative Extension award, a National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service award, and nine other regional or national awards.

Over his career, John has been involved in over 100 grant-funded projects totaling over $8.6M, contributed to 20 books or book chapters, 13 journal articles, 30 abstracts, 86 extension bulletins, 32 fact sheets, over 300 popular press articles, 47 web sites, 37 web courses/online tools, presented over 100 professional presentations/webinars, and over 550 extension programs. In addition, he has had the privilege of traveling and making presentations to agricultural operators in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.

He is co-owner/partner of a Laramie Valley, WY commercial family farm that hosts dairy goats, meat goats, sheep and lambs, rabbits, layers, broilers, and turkeys. His is also co-owner/partner of a fresh produce buyer’s club and two consulting firms, including RightRisk, LLC.

John's current extension interests include risk management, integrated management, enterprise assessment, financial analysis, recordkeeping, and applications of technology in agricultural.

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Dr. Eric Houk, Program Lead/Professor, University of Chico

Dr. Eric Houk is a Professor in the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico and serves as the Program Lead in Agricultural Business. In addition, Dr. Houk is the Director of the Agribusiness Institute whose mission is to provide agricultural business expertise to the community. Dr. Houk earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural & Resource Economics from Colorado State University, his M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Idaho, and his B.S. in Economics from Frostburg State University in Maryland. Dr. Houk’s primary area of expertise is in Agricultural Production and Water Economics and he has been conducting research in these areas for over 15 years. Dr. Houk has served as the Principal Investigator on numerous grants/projects and has published a variety of technical reports and articles relating to these experiences.
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Neil Koenig, PhD, Author

Neil Koenig, PhD, has been a family business consultant for the past thirty years. He has worked with many farm families, from organic farms to mega-ranches and dairies. He has spoken across the country to many farm related organizations.

He has a doctorate in psychology, having worked as a family psychologist and faculty member for family physicians in their medical training. Prior to this, Neil learned about families as a pastor for six years. He is the author of You Can’t Fire Me, I’m Your Father, a practical guide for family businesses.

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Nicole Andreini, Founder & Creative Strategist, Studio 22

Nicole is the founder of two graphic design and brand strategy firms, Studio 22 and Neon Headquarters, places where fresh ideas are envisioned, established and executed. Her passion is enabling businesses in the agricultural industry to embrace their visual identities.

A Northern California native and Chico State grad, Nicole has been immersed in agriculture all her life. Now, with her team, she designs visual identities, creates strategies and develops strong messaging for businesses in agriculture, as well as many other industries, on a daily basis.

Putting heart and intention into every brand she creates, Nicole and her team have developed a passion and personal standard for the creating the best, strongest and most impactful visual identities possible.

You can consistently find Nicole with a minimum of 4 beverages on her desk, her golden, Henry, on the sofa and Sinatra on the record player.

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Carl Morello, Regional Safety & Health Officer, Zenith Ins.

Carl Morello is the Regional Safety & Health Officer for the Zenith Insurance Company based in Fresno. Carl has over 27 years of experience in the insurance industry focused in Safety & Health, Loss Control and Underwriting. Prior to joining Zenith in 2014, Carl was with a Western Regional carrier based in Monterey for 8 years and also with a national carrier in CT for 17 years in management and home office positions. Carl is a licensed Professional Engineer and also holds the ARM, ALCM and AFIS designations. He has Masters Degrees in Business Administration and Management as well as a BS in Civil Engineering. He is a member of the ASSE (American Society of Safety Engineers), NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), and NSC (National Safety Council), organizations. Carl has been published multiple times in the Insurance Journal on risk management topics. He has also presented at the NFPA World Conference and at numerous CA industry association conferences. Prior to his insurance career, Carl worked in the engineering and construction fields as a civil engineer and project manager. Carl’s expertise in the risk management field focuses on helping clients reduce their losses and improve operations.
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Chris Messer, Director of Pacific Region, USDA/NASS

Chris Messer is the Director of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Pacific Region, headquartered in Sacramento, California. As Director of the Pacific Region, she oversees NASS’s census and survey programs in California, Hawaii, and Nevada. Chris also serves as the Director of the NASS California Field Office providing direct support and outreach to the state’s agricultural community to help meet their data needs.

Chris began her career with USDA more than 30 years ago and has worked for NASS across the country, from NASS headquarters in Washington, D.C., to Georgia, New York, North Carolina, and Washington State. Before coming to California, she served as the NASS Census Planning Branch Chief, where she led the federal U.S. Census of Agriculture program – a program reaching across all 50 states, and the contiguous U.S. territories and outlying areas.

Prior to her position as Census Planning Branch Chief, Chris served as Director of NASS’s Washington Field Office. Since her time on the West Coast, she has continued to remain engaged in important issues facing the agricultural industry in the area.

In 2011, Chris was selected by the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation for the Washington D.C. Educational Fellowship Program. The in-depth program focused on complex water issues facing California farmers and ranchers. Additionally, for the past several years Chris has served on multiple USDA teams charged with exploring increasingly vital issues to Western farmers, including the USDA Water Team, USDA Organic Working Group, and the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Executive Committee.

Chris was raised on a small family farm in North Carolina. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from North Carolina State University in Animal Science Technology.

Today she is also a proud wife, mother, and grandmother. Throughout her work, Chris is dedicated to helping America’s farmers and ranchers continue to provide a safe and abundant food, feed, fiber and fuel supply to everyone.

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Dr. Kishore Joseph, Professor, University of Chico

Dr. Kishore Joseph earned his Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where his work focused on commodity futures markets. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agribusiness Economics and a Master of Business Administration with an elective in finance from Southern Illinois University. Dr. Joseph is originally from India, where he earned a Master’s degree in Agribusiness Management with a specialization in marketing from Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from Kerala Agricultural University.
Dr. Joseph’s research and professional interests include agricultural marketing, agribusiness management, commodity price analysis, futures markets, and risk management. He is an Assistant Professor in Agricultural Business at California State University Chico and teaches agricultural marketing, agricultural price analysis, and advanced agribusiness management. He approaches teaching with a broad array of private industry experience. He managed sales for a multinational seed company in India and has completed internships with brokerage and trading firms in the United States.
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Noelle Ferdon, Dir. of Marketing, Golden State Farm Credit

Noelle has a background in law and policy and has worked on food and agriculture issues throughout California, for nearly a decade. Noelle has substantial experience in grant-writing and project management having secured numerous public and private-foundation grants. Her projects include founding and directing the Buy Fresh Buy Local, North Valley agricultural marketing program with over 100 farmer, rancher and food business members, publishing three editions of the North Valley’s Eater’s Guide to Local Food, chairing the development of a USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher workshop series, and founding and developing the North Valley Food Hub.

Noelle currently works as Director of Marketing and Outreach for Golden State Farm Credit on a wide variety of projects throughout northern California and the southern Central Valley.

She loves to grow food wherever she can and never has enough hours in the day to love her son, Rocko. Noelle has a B.S. in Political Science from CSU, Chico and a J.D. from Golden Gate University’s School of Law with certificates in Public Interest and Environmental Law.

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Vincent Crivello, Vice President, Loring Ward Financial

Vince Crivello, Vice President, heads Loring Ward's Practice Management Group.Vince is responsible for delivering industry and investor insights to independent advisors working with the firm. In his Regional Director capacity, he also manages a small number of advisor relationships in Silicon Valley.

Vince has extensive experience in all facets of the wealth management industry. Prior to joining Loring Ward, he was an independent advisor and partner with Tributary Advisory, a $600M wealth advisory firm with six offices nationwide. In that role, Vince provided financial planning and investment management to individual investors in the Bay Area. Vince also served in a number of consulting, business, and product management roles with Charles Schwab, NorthStar Software, Northern Trust, US Trust, and Bank of America. He has experience in financials & investment planning software, client experience design, and marketing. Vince is also a trustee, real estate manager and general partner for a small family office.

Vince received his BS in Political Science & Business Management from San Diego State University. He holds Securities 7 and 66 licenses. He is the Past-President of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of San Francisco and has served on the Marin County Estate Planning Council board of directors.

Vince now resides in Marin County, north of San Francisco. An avid outdoorsman, Vince enjoys snow skiing, mountain biking and travel with his three teenage sons.
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Joe Richter, Co-Founder, AgVision, LLC

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Michael Larkin, Precision Information Manager, Helena

Michael Larkin is Precision Information Manager for Helena Chemical Company’s Western Business Unit. He received a B.S. degree in Agronomy (1992) and M.S. degree in Soil Science (1994) from Utah State University. He has been active for more than 20 years in the area of soil sampling, soil analysis, and recommendation for variable rate plant nutrition and soil reclamation needs. Much of his efforts have focused on utilizing nutrients and amendments efficiently to improve crop production and crop quality. He has worked with both annual and perennial crops throughout the West, and continues to focus his efforts on finding and using the tools of precision agriculture which provide the best returns to his customers.
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Dr. Jacob Brimlow, Professor, CSU Chico, College of Ag

Dr. Jacob Brimlow is a Chico State graduate, having obtained his BA in economics here in 1998. He went on to earn both his MA in economics and PhD in environmental and resource economics at North Carolina State University. Brimlow’s research interests focus on increasing the profitability and resiliency of farms and food businesses through local food system development. He grew up in Humboldt County, surrounded by the timber industry and Northern California agriculture.
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Eric Wavra, Precision Ag Segment Manager, Sitech

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William Ludwig, Assistant VP, Zenith Agribusiness Solutions

Bill Ludwig is currently the Assistant Vice President of Risk Management at Zenith Agribusiness Solutions located in Roseville, California. Bill received his B.S. degree in Industrial Safety and Technology from the University of Central Missouri. He has worked in the commercial insurance industry for over 30 years with various companies including Northbrook Property & Casualty, Allstate Insurance Company, St. Paul Fire & Marine, Fireman’s Fund and now presently with Zenith Insurance Company. Bill is a Certified Hazard Control Manager (CHCM), specializing in program development relating to Fire Protection Engineering, Fleet Safety, Rural Crime Prevention, Disaster & Emergency Preparedness, in addition to Food Safety in the agricultural industry. Bill has also obtained his Agribusiness & Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS) designation. Bill is a professional member of both the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
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Roger Isom, President, WAPA

Roger is the President/CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) which represents tree nut hullers and processors of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. WAPA addresses regulatory and legislative issues for the tree nut industry on critical matters including, environmental, safety, food safety, water, water quality, labor, tax and transportation issues. WAPA also provides key consulting services to its members and clients in these same areas. Roger is also the President/CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, which is a voluntary dues based trade Association representing 100% of the cotton growers and cotton gins in the State of California addressing regulatory and legislative issues. Roger is also President of the Ag Energy Consumers Association (AECA) representing the agricultural industry on ag energy issues, including critical general rate cases with the utilities. He is also Chairman of the Agricultural President’s Council, a coalition of over 30 agricultural organizations that have come together to work on political and legislative matters. Lastly, Roger is also the Chairman of the Citizens Advisory Group of Industry (CAGI), an organization made up of the agribusiness, oil, manufacturing and building industries to address air quality issues in the San Joaquin Valley. Roger is a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
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David Schabazian, Program Manager, Rural-Urban Connections

David Shabazian was named as the Program Manager for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ Rural-Urban Connections Strategy in 2007. This unprecedented program strives to enhance rural economic viability through strategies that expand the region’s food systems. To that end, David has pioneered spatial agricultural economic modeling and market analyses to help public and private interests make better-informed decisions. His work is recognized nationally, including by Harvard’s Ash Center as a “Top 25” program in the 2015 Innovations in American Government Awards competition. David was raised on a small farm in California’s Central Valley. He attended UC Davis where he earned a BS in Agricultural Economics and an MS in regional planning. David serves on the boards of the Center for Land-Based Learning and the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. David is also an alumnus of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation.

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