Speakers

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Wednesday, November 4th

General Session: “Confidence in Uncertainty” presented by Mary Ledman, Rabobank

*Bio and info coming soon!*

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General Session Panel: “Building an Ecosystem Utilizing Technology”

*session description and panelists coming soon!*

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General Session: “Impacts of Cow Side Strategies and Decisions to Your Bottom Line” presented by Matt Lange, Compeer Financial

Matt LangeSession Description: *Coming soon!*

Speaker Bio: Matt Lange has been a business consultant with Compeer Financial for 8 years. In this role, Matt provides his clients with production and financial management expertise, assisting them with annual budget projections, ongoing performance monitoring, strategic planning, bench marking, and tactical decision-making and analysis. Serving clients throughout the United States, Matt works with a diverse array of dairy operations including enterprises from 250 to over 5,000 milking at one location, Holstein Jersey and Crossbred, diversified cropping/dairy operations and businesses financed by various lenders and investors. Prior to Compeer, Matt worked 7 years serving in various roles of dairy development at the government and non-profit levels.

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General Session Panel: “Why Net Zero Matters”

Session Description: A discussion about the people and progress behind dairy’s updated sustainability story. This session is sponsored by DMI.


Tara Vander Dussen

Panel member Tara Vander Dussen, Environmental Scientist and Dairy Farmer

Speaker Bio: Tara is a New Mexico native, growing up on her family dairy. Today, she and her husband, Daniel, dairy farm along with their two daughters. Tara has worked as an environmental scientist for nine years on dairy farm projects and as project manager and certified NRCS TSP. She assists her clients with state and federal regulatory compliance, water conservation and sustainable management practices. Her passion is advocating for sustainable dairy farming by sharing her story as the New Mexico Milkmaid. She has had the opportunity to speak at national and global conferences about dairy sustainability including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Committee on World Food Security and the Forbes AgTech Summit.


Krysta Harden

Panel member Krysta Harden, Dairy Management Inc.

Speaker Bio: Panel member Krysta serves as Executive Vice President of Global Environmental Strategy for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff on behalf of nearly 40,000 U.S. dairy farmers. In May of 2020 Krysta was named Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. She plays a key leadership role in defining the vision, strategy and plan forward for U.S. dairy’s environmental commitment. Collaborating with dairy farmers and leadership within the dairy community, Krysta continues to identify the science, best practices and metrics that will further advance the positive impact U.S. dairy has on the environment and the important role it plays in a sustainable food system.


Panel member Jim Wallace, Dairy Management Inc.

*photo coming soon!* Speaker Bio: Jim Wallace holds the position of Senior Vice President, Environmental Research at DMI. He is responsible for leading strategy and oversight of the environmental science and research program to position US dairy in a global food system. He also leads the foundational work for environmental research and measurement to inform decisions, update models and advance outcomes for the dairy industry’s Net Zero Initiative. Prior to joining DMI, Jim was the Senior Vice President of Engineering & Business Development for Newtrient where he was responsible for developing and leading new technology and project initiatives, supported environmental market-based development efforts and led the technical phase of the dairy industry’s Net Zero Initiative. The interface of water quality and renewable energy with business and technology development have been a common thread throughout Jim’s 28-year career.

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Breakout Session: “Washington Insider” presented by Mary Knigge, Dairy Farmers of America

*Bio and info coming soon!*

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Breakout Session: “Learning Styles for Effective Employee Training” presented by Elsie Gonzalez, Motiva Consulting

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Session Description: Effective employee training has a huge financial return because it reduces employee turnover, promotes best animal care practices, increases productivity, and improves overall work quality. Part of a successful training program includes developing a consistent system for training new and current employees, communicating expectations, explaining the “why” and providing learning opportunities that are specific to each worker population and that meet their predominant learning style. During this session we will learn the predominant learning styles and various training tips and tools that can be implemented to develop an effective training program for your dairy. This session is sponsored by Udder Tech Inc.

Speaker Bio: Elsie is the owner at Motiva Consulting where she works with progressive dairy operations and their teams developing consistent systems and training employees to ensure outstanding animal care, work quality and efficiency. She has been serving the dairy industry in Wisconsin for the last 10 years in various roles as a Dairy Agent with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, conservationist with the USDA-NRCS and co-instructor for the UW-Madison Farm & Industry Short Course, as well as being actively involved in several dairy organizations.

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Breakout Session: “Building Your Financial Confidence” presented by Amber Hewitt, GPS Dairy Consulting, and Matt Lange, Compeer.

Session Description: Financial Confidence is the ability to trust, make use of and rely on your financial data to make smart business decisions. Ignite your financial confidence with this breakout session where we will discuss tips and provide some strategies on how to turn your financial data into measurable and actionable data. This session is sponsored by Compeer Financial and GPS Dairy Consulting.


Amber Hewett

Speaker Bio: Amber Hewett has served in various management and financial roles over her 17+ years’ experience in the Wisconsin dairy industry. Amber and her husband founded Lakeshore Dairy Services to provide reproductive management services to local dairies and over time, she became more involved in managing the financial affairs of the business and also provided independent consulting services on both Animal Welfare and Business Management practices. Amber knows well the value of understanding what happens in the barns and fields and how that affects what happens in the business office. Her role within her client relationships focus on helping clients and their NextGen gain a better understanding of the daily accounting, budgeting, forecasting and preparing financial reports that are needed to manage and grow a profitable dairy business.


Matt Lange

Speaker Bio: Matt Lange has been a business consultant with Compeer Financial for 8 years. In this role, Matt provides his clients with production and financial management expertise, assisting them with annual budget projections, ongoing performance monitoring, strategic planning, bench marking, and tactical decision-making and analysis. Serving clients throughout the United States, Matt works with a diverse array of dairy operations including enterprises from 250 to over 5,000 milking at one location, Holstein Jersey and Crossbred, diversified cropping/dairy operations and businesses financed by various lenders and investors. Prior to Compeer, Matt worked 7 years serving in various roles of dairy development at the government and non-profit levels.

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Breakout Session: “Turning Friction into a Positive” presented by Michelle Jackson, Zoetis

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Session Description: During this session you’ll learn techniques for flexing your personal conflict strategy to produce resolution-based conversations, as well as the steps for resolving conflict that result in all parties taking action.

Speaker Bio: Michelle has over 30 years work experience in learning and development, international program management, and human resource management. As an experienced learning strategist, Michelle understands the importance of identifying the expected outcomes in knowledge, behavior, and attitude that must be attained to effect change within an organization. She works with a variety of clients and believes strongly that her work is a reflection of the relationships she builds with her clients. Michelle has a master’s degree in International and Intercultural Management, with a focus on Training and Education; is a Certified Professional in Talent Development as well as a Certified Online Training Professional, and has spoken at various regional and national conferences.

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Breakout Session: “From Field to Feed” presented by Michelle Change-Der Bedrosian, Vita Plus

Michelle Chang-Der BedrosianSession Description: The majority of a dairy cow’s diet is home-grown forages, and quality is of utmost importance. Making quality forages requires top-notch management, starting with harvesting under the right conditions, ensiling them properly, and feeding them out in a manner that keeps forages fresh. High quality milk and efficient, healthy cows starts with fantastic forages that are treated right every step of the way, from field to feed. This session is sponsored by Vita Plus and Lallemand.

Speaker Bio: Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian has been a Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical service specialist for seven years. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science at the @University of Delaware and then her Ph.D. in animal and food science, specializing in forage research with Dr. Limin Kung. A New Jersey native, Michelle gained much of her farm experience during her collegiate years, milking cows, working in a forage laboratory, and performing dairy research. Based in Madison, WI, Michelle assists dairy producers and Vita Plus consultants with on-farm troubleshooting and focuses on forage product research and development, dairy research and dairy technical services.

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Breakout Session: “Legal Learnings Through a Crisis” presented by Leah Ziemba, Michael Best

*Bio and info coming soon!*

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Breakout Session: “Behaviors Impacting Your Bottom Line” presented by Dr. Kelly Reed, Diamond V

Kelly Reed

Session Description: *Coming soon!*

Speaker Bio: Kelly works for Diamond V as a Ruminant Field Technical Specialist based in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to joining Diamond V, Kelly managed a 5000-cow dairy in the Yakima Valley of WA for 7 years. To maintain her clinical skills and gain exposure to other operations, she provided primary veterinary care to a few dairy and beef clients, as well as covering relief emergency vet services. Kelly was raised on a small family farm in upstate NY and possesses the unique understanding of the challenges that face both the small family farm, as well as large-scale western dairies. Kelly received both her Bachelor of Animal Science and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degrees at Cornell University

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Breakout Session: “Building Resiliency and Finding Joy” presented by Monica Kramer McConkey, Eyes on the Horizon Consulting, LLC

Monica Kramer McConkeySession Description: Has life become overwhelming? Do you feel like you’ve lost your spark? Your purpose? In this workshop we will explore ways you can be intentional in making your life what you want it to be despite difficult circumstances that may surround you. This session is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.

Speaker Bio: Monica has 25 years of experience in the behavioral health field as a counselor, program supervisor and administrator. Her focus throughout her career has been to increase access to, and remove the stigma often attached to mental health services. Monica grew up on a farm in northwestern Minnesota and has intimate understanding of the dynamics leading to farm stress and its impact on farm families. She currently works as one of two Rural Mental Health Specialists in Minnesota providing support to farmers and their families through a contract with the MN Ag Centers of Excellence and Farm Business Management.

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Breakout Session: “Understanding Your Milk Check” 

*Speaker, bio and info coming soon!*

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Breakout Session: “Turn Observation into Action for Better Calves” presented by Michelle Sullivan, Cargill

Michelle SullivanSession Description: Today’s dairy farms have lots of data at our fingertips. Additionally, we have employees who work with our animals daily and can recognize when animal performance deviates from “normal.” What should you do when your information and observations still don’t meet your goals? It can feel overwhelming to sift through the data and determine where to begin. In this presentation we’ll discuss ways to direct your energy onto key areas of focus and to determine the steps to take to turn observations into performance. This session is sponsored by Cargill.

Speaker Bio: Michelle grew up in a small town in Kansas and earned her bachelors and master’s degrees at Kansas State University. During this time, she worked as a herdsman for the University’s dairy teaching and research unit, which ignited her passion for the dairy industry. After graduation, Michelle began working for Cargill in Southern Idaho as a dairy nutritionist. She has worked with a variety of dairy operations, from custom calf ranches to large dairy farms. Her passions include helping producers identify opportunities on their operations, troubleshooting bottlenecks on farms, working to develop actionable plans and conducting employee training programs to assist with adoption of new protocols.

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Thursday, November 5th

Early Bird Gets the Worm Session: “Milk Markets: Today, Tomorrow and Into the Future” presented by Mary Ledman, Rabobank

*Session description coming soon!*

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Early Bird Gets the Worm Session: “Workplace 101: The Answer is Yes – How to Lean in, Learn, and Live Your Best Life” presented by Martha Trott, DeLaval

Martha TrottSession Description: Our very human essence pulls us to create meaning in everything we do. Through this interactive session we will learn how to explore how to lean into things that are scary, require courage, and help us grow and self-actualize to the fullest expression of ourselves through our work. Drawing on inspiration from: Maslow, Brene Brown, Studs Terkel, and Maya Angelou, Martha will share her story of saying yes and weaving the concepts of some of her heroes who have helped her go from a shy kid who loved puppets to a larger (and at times scary) stage. This session is sponsored by DeLaval.

*Speaker bio coming soon!*

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General Session Panel: “Transitioning Into Your Next Purpose”

Session Description: This energetic and supportive panel of dairywomen will discuss the transition phases that we experience throughout our lives. The panelists range from changing careers, losing a loved one or even those like you who sold the milking herd and are transitioning into their new purpose. We all revolve around change and this session will discuss those changes and how we handle and move forward from them to find our “next purpose. This session will help others going through a transition or maybe to look differently at situations before them.


Panel member Julie Velhuis

*Bio coming soon!*


Panel member Catharine Kuber Perry

*Bio coming soon!*


Panel member Beth Heinze

*Bio coming soon!*


Moderator LuAnn Troxel

*Bio coming soon!*

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General Session: “Animal Welfare: Essential for the Cow, the Producer and the Consumer” presented by Dr. Jennifer Van Os, University of Wisconsin

Jennifer Van Os 2019 head shotSession Description: Holsteins may be black and white, but the issues we face in modern farming are not always so clear. What do consumers far-removed from food production expect regarding animal care? How do producers reconcile these expectations with what makes sense and is best for our cows and calves? Scientific research can help us optimize the welfare of dairy cattle while balancing consumer concerns with producer realities. This session is sponsored by The National Dairy FARM Program.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Van Os is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Animal Welfare for the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Ph.D in the interdisciplinary Animal Behavior graduate program at the UC Davis and conducted postdoctoral research in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia. The research in her lab at UW-Madison focuses on understanding, evaluating, and improving the welfare of dairy animals from a biological perspective. The goal of Dr. Van Os’ extension program is to promote best practices in management and housing to help the dairy industry adapt as our scientific knowledge about animal welfare continues to grow.

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General Session: “Living and Leading with Clarity and Compassion” presented by Laura Daniels, Dairy Girl Network

*Bio and info coming soon!*