Indiana Milk Quality Professionals, Inc.
IndianaMilk Quality Professionals, Inc.

2017 Speakers Bios

Indiana Milk Quality Conference

2018 Speaker Biographies


Rob Winters – WOWO Radio

Rob Winters is a 40-year veteran of the broadcasting industry and started reporting farm news as the environmental reporter for the NBC television affiliate in the Yakima Valley of Washington State.  Rob's career as a Radio/TV newsman has taken him to areas dominated by tree fruits, cattle and hops to dairy, vineyards and nursery growers.  Rob was never a fulltime farm broadcaster until he became the Farm Director at legendary farm station - WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he continues the 80+ year tradition of farm broadcasting at WOWO.  In 2013 Rob was awarded the Horizon Award by NAFB for the nation's best new farm broadcaster.  Later that same year he was awarded the 'Beyond the Fence" award by the Indiana Corn Growers and Indiana Soybean Association for the best contribution to furthering the message of Ag during 2013.  In addition to his daily farm news, Rob developed an extensive farm page at that includes daily farm news and podcasts of interviews with the day's newsmakers.  Shortly after assuming the daily duties as WOWO Farm Director, Rob launched a weekly hour-long program called 'Midwest Ag Matters' featuring the week's top farm news, interviews with the leading newsmakers in the Ag world and a discussion about the commodity markets with two leading market analysts.  'Midwest Ag Matters' can be heard weekly from 8a-9a EST or streaming live online at


Jackie Barber – American Dairy Association Indiana

Jackie loves cows, ice cream, and connecting grocery shoppers to dairy farmers. She is the Farmer Relations Manager at American Dairy Association Indiana and has been with dairy promotion since 2013. Jackie is passionate about helping tell the dairy farming story through social media, farm tours, influencer groups, and media outlets. She also serves as a resource to farmers and industry with questions about dairy promotion programs. A native Hoosier, she went out to become an Oklahoma State Cowboy before Indiana pulled her back.



Dr. Bret Marsh, DVM – Indiana Board of Animal Health

Dr. Bret Marsh serves as the Indiana State Veterinarian. He is responsible for all statewide animal health programs, as well as providing inspection services for the meat, poultry and dairy products industries. He is also an advisor to the Indiana State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Dr. Marsh previously served as the Special Detail to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Homeland Security Staff. In that role, he represented the views of the country’s state veterinarians on issues affecting the nation’s ability to preserve and protect its agricultural assets. Dr. Marsh was Treasurer to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for six years, and served in the AVMA House of Delegates for nearly a decade. Dr. Marsh is a past President of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association and Executive Committee member of the United States Animal Health Association. He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from both the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine and the Purdue College of Agriculture. He received his BS degree in Animal Sciences, and his DVM from Purdue University.


Greg Slipher – Indiana Farm Bureau

Greg Slipher joined Indiana Farm Bureau staff as a Livestock Development Specialist and began his duties in December of 2006.  He comes to Farm Bureau from a livestock production background and has championed livestock issues for the Indiana Pork Producers Association for 12 years as their Director of Industry Services & Development. His IPPA responsibilities included industry communications, educational program development and delivery, relationship building and local advocacy. He is largely responsible for the successful "IPPA, Building Strong Communities" and "IPPA, Good Neighbor" programs. Greg has extensive local government experience having served as chair of the Clinton County Area Plan Commission, chair of the Clinton County Soil & Water Conservation District and service on the Clinton County Board of Zoning Appeals. Since joining Indiana Farm Bureau, Greg has worked with Area Plan Commissions and County Commissioners as he has advocated for livestock in over 50 counties in Indiana.  He has been active in leadership development through the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Institute, Indiana and National Young Farmer Associations, FFA and National Council for Vocational and Technical Education in Agriculture.  Greg lives in Boone County and has two grown children, son Jordan and daughter Lindsey.



Bruce Kettler – Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Bruce Kettler is the Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb on January 8, 2018. He also serves as the Director of Agribusiness Development for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and reports directly to Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. Prior to joining ISDA, Bruce worked as the Director of Public Relations for Beck's Hybrids and brings to the department more than 30 years of agricultural leadership experience and knowledge, ranging from production to sales to community and industry relations. Bruce grew up in western Ohio and developed a passion and appreciation for agriculture at an early age. He was a member of 4-H and FFA, worked on a dairy farm and served as the Ohio FFA President, as well as Vice President for National FFA. After his years of service, Bruce attended Ohio State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy with emphasis in Agricultural Business. He began his career in 1987 at Dow AgroSciences where he spent nearly 20 years working in a variety of roles including sales and marketing, finance management, advertising and public relations support and agronomic sales. In 2004, he worked at ABG, Inc. as the Business Development Manager and then joined Beck’s Hybrids two years later as a sales consultant. During his 11 year tenure at Beck’s, Bruce also worked as an Area Team Leader, Field Sales Manager and Director of Public Relations. Along with having a diverse background in agriculture, Bruce also has vast leadership experience and is an active member of the community. He is a 2012 graduate of the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program where he experienced many facets of Indiana agriculture from policy formation to rural development and a two week study of international agriculture in India. He also serves on the Ohio State University President's Alumni Advisory Council and is a member of the Board of Trustees for Riverview Health in Hamilton County. Formerly, Bruce served as a board member for the Hamilton County Economic Development Corporation and as the industry representative for the Illinois Corn Growers Board. Bruce's family is dedicated to the agricultural industry as his wife Tammy is Senior Director of Corporate Relations for the College of Agriculture, Purdue University. His son Cory is involved in production agriculture at Beck's Hybrids, and his daughter Christy is a senior at Purdue majoring in Agronomy. At ISDA, Bruce’s main priorities include: advocating on behalf of Indiana agriculture at the local, state and federal level; supporting existing agribusinesses while attracting new ones to the state; lifting up youth development organizations, like 4-H and FFA, as well as raising awareness about the importance of agricultural education; promoting the conservation of Indiana’s land and water resources; and working with farmers, agencies and industry partners to take Indiana agriculture to the next level.


Neil Bendixen – Dairy Farmers of America

Neil Bendixen is the Northwest Region Membership Supervisor – Mideast Council for Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).  He also serves as the Manager, Contract Hauling – Dairy Marketing Services in Syracuse, New York, NCIMS, Hauling Committee, NCIMS, Council II, and the Dairy Practices Council, Executive Board.  In the past Neil was the Regional Sales Manager for Walker Stainless in Wisconsin, Manager of Dispatch & Transportation for Michigan Milk Producers Association in Michigan, Plant Manager for County Line Cheese in Indiana, and Owner/Operator Milk Hauler in Wisconsin.


Jim Graft – Graft Milk Transport


Steve Kruk – Dairy Farmers of America

Steve Kruk is the Fluid Milk Transportation Operations Manager for Dairy Farmers of America’s Mideast Area, based out of Medina, Ohio. He has been with DFA for more than four years. Prior to coming to DFA, he oversaw warehouse, shipping and receiving operations at the Leprino Foods facility in Roswell, New Mexico where they took in six million pounds of raw milk a day. He has 30 years of transportation and distribution experience.


Rob Ruppert – Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.

Rob Ruppert grew up in the dairy business.  His parents owned and operated Ruppert Distributing, an independent distributor for Sealtest and Breyers’ ice cream. From the age of 5, Rob was helping in the business by loading and unloading ice cream trucks before and after school and he rode along with his father or other drivers delivering product when not in school. After graduating from high school in 1988, Rob went to work full time for the family business. The family business was sold in 1990 to Schenkel’s Dairy and he went to work for Schenkel’s at that time. As an employee of Schenkel’s Dairy, he drove trucks delivering ice cream and milk and did some sales work as well. Schenkel’s Dairy sold to Suiza Dairy which became Dean Foods. He went into distribution management for Dean Foods and perused his degree in Integrated Supply Chain Management in 2004. Rob worked for Dean Foods until he 2011 when he went to work at Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. as the Distribution Manager for the Fort Wayne division.


Cynthia Adams – Knollbrook Farms

John and Cynthia started dairying in 1986 with 4 cows and a rusted Toyota pickup—no ground, equipment or equity.   They rented facilities until the drought of 1988 when they sold the cows and kept the heifers.  At this time, they both began working off farm to build up equity, with the goal of eventually buying a farm.  John installed computerized feeding systems and started a custom silage bagging business.  Cynthia finished her degrees and worked as a Registered Dietitian.  In 1998 they were able to start back up dairy farming with 25 cows and 65 acres.  Currently they are milking 97 Holsteins and Jerseys with additional 20 heifers to be milking by June.   John retrofitted our old parlor in a 60 year old building with used equipment from the 70’s-80’s.  They started with a 4-stall side open Surge parlor and later upgraded to a 8 stall Herringbone parlor.  In May of 2013, John and Cynthia were averaging 6-7 hours a day milking cows, not including outside chores.  They had reached a point where they needed to make some decisions.  They were faced with the issue of hiring additional employees and they were working in an inefficient/outdated parlor with equipment that had exceeded its useful life expectancy.  Their goals were to improve efficiency, spend less time in barn and more time managing the cows.  After evaluating multiple systems and touring multiple farms, all the pieces came together for installing a robotic system.


Sarah Kuehnert – Kuehnert Dairy Inc.

Sarah Kuehnert is a mother, wife, registered dietitian and dairy farmer.  She works at Adams Memorial Hospital as the Lead Dietitian where she works part-time specializing in inpatient and outpatient nutrition therapy and community wellness initiatives.  Sarah graduated from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana and completed her dietetic internship at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, New York.  Aside from her part-time dietitian job, she is involved in the daily operations of Kuehnert Dairy Farm with her husband, Nathan, and his family.   She is the co-founder of the Kuehnert Dairy Farm Fall Festival that is held annually, where she strives to educate consumers about production agriculture and the importance of dairy and physical activity for overall health and bone development.  Sarah believes that she is making a difference in her local community by tying the knot between production agriculture, food and nutrition.


Gary Corbett – Fair Oaks Dairy

Gary Corbett is a Co-Founder and CEO of Fair Oaks Farms and has over thirty years of management experience primarily in the dairy industry.  Gary has been the CEO of Fair Oaks Farms for more than ten years. In this capacity his responsibilities include developing Fair Oaks Farm’s overall strategic direction while providing the tactical leadership necessary to meet all objectives.  He holds a M.S. of Economics & B.S. in Marketing from the University of Illinois. He was a corporate officer of Dean Foods and held various Vice-President positions with Land O'Lakes and Swiss Valley.


Damon Pattison – Boumatic


Matt Hauschild – Indiana Board of Animal Health

Matt Hauschild serves as the Milk Plant Supervisor for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH). In this role, he oversees the milk plant inspectors statewide. Matt is a Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) lead instructor and assists in the certified sealer program at BOAH.  He is currently working to offer food safety training for small milk processors and farmstead processors.

Throughout his 30-plus years in the dairy industry, Matt has gained a unique, personal perspective of the workings of processing facilities. After earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Food Science from Purdue University, Matt has worked in various positions in dairy plants in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Immediately prior to joining the BOAH Dairy Division, he spent 19 years with Prairie Farms Dairy in Fort Wayne, where he was involved with multiple aspects, including operations, quality assurance, laboratory, and purchasing.  Matt is married to his wife Lisa of 36 years. They have four adult children and spend most of their spare time trying to keep up with 11 grandchildren. 


Laurie Richards – LR & A, Inc.

Laurie Richards is an accomplished international speaker who works with thousands of executives and association leaders. Known for her practical, interactive, and entertaining approach, Richards works with leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, sales people, and other professionals on improving communication at every level. She also lends her voice to video and audio programs in voice-over work.  Richards’ experience as an international speaker and speaker coach comes into play as she helps clients strategically plan outcome-based presentations, put power into a PowerPoint (no more bored audiences), prepare for media interviews, manage crisis (before, during, and after), grow morale, build stronger teams, and improve everyday communications to directly affect the bottom line -- including new business pitches, state-of-the-organization addresses, sales presentations, and meetings.

Many of Richards’ programs include personality profiling using proven Myers-Briggs, DISC, Social Styles, and other valid instruments to help clients work better as teams, improve efficiencies, select best candidates, and coach employees.  Richards began her career as a legislative correspondent for Public Broadcasting. She managed leader communications for the National Pork Producers Council—the nation's largest commodity organization and originator of the successful, “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign. Richards has hosted radio and television shows, managed one of the nation’s fastest growing public relations agencies, launched award-winning public affairs programs, and managed highly effective grassroots lobbying efforts, and facilitated professional development programs for Fortune 500 companies and associations.  Richards is described as "enthusiastic, professional, effective, practical, savvy, inspiring, and enlightening." Clients note her strengths as “an innate charismatic style coupled with the ability to really connect with her audience and bring practical real-life experiences we can use immediately.” Her business clients span throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia giving her first-hand experience and cross-cultural awareness. To remain relevant, Richards’ learning material includes current information reflecting today’s high-speed lifestyles, cultural changes, technological advancements, and shifting priorities.  Richards has degrees in communication and business management and has earned masters’ degrees in business management and psychology. She has a variety of certifications in micro-expressions and psychological profiling. Richards is currently working toward her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology.


Doug Leman – Indiana Dairy Producers

Douglas Leman is a native of Francesville, Indiana, a small farming community located in the Northwest part of the state. Upon graduation from high school, he attended the Purdue Agriculture Short Course and then returned home to the families’ grain and dairy farm. Doug and his wife, Margaret, took over the family dairy and continued as partners in the grain operation along with Doug’s three brothers. In 2001, Doug and Margaret, along with their four sons, decided to venture out on their own. Pursuing their passion for dairy farming, they built Sunny Ridge Dairy, an 800 head dairy farm. The family enjoyed working together for ten years before making the decision to sell the farm in 2011. In April of 2011, Doug became the Executive Director of Indiana Dairy Producers. During his tenure as Executive Director, one of Doug’s main objectives has been to bring more processing into the state, thus allowing for increased export potential for Indiana’s dairy industry. In 2014, Doug was invited by the Lt. Governor to participate in her Agriculture Trade Mission to Asia where they traveled to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Doug continues to expand his relationships, both locally and internationally, with the goal of supporting the dairy industry in Indiana and beyond.


Debra Hall – Indiana Board of Animal Health

Deb Hall grew up on a farm close to Hudson, Indiana, where her family raised pigs and milked cows.  She graduated from Purdue University in 1980 with a degree in Agriculture Education and taught science and agriculture for two years to the detriment of both herself and the students.   After she saw the light she began working Quality Control for PepsiCo and has worked in laboratories since that time.  Deb has worked for Mosely Laboratories and Vivolac Cultures, Crossroad Farms Dairy, and the Indiana Department of Health where she spent three years testing swimming pools and hot tubs.  When the water laboratory certification officer job became available she moved into that position.  A few months later milk laboratory certification officer duties were added to her responsibilities.  When the Indiana Department of Health decided to split the jobs apart again Deb chose to stay with the milk laboratories and has been working this position since June 1992.  Deb has two grown daughters and two grandsons.   She currently lives with her youngest daughter and grandsons in Avon, Indiana.  In her spare time Deb enjoys reading and cross-stitch and home-improvement projects.  


Charles Sybesma – Noegen Corporation

Charles Sybesma was the owner and managing partner serving the dairy producers in California for Paragon Pharmaceuticals – Prescription Drugs Ezell Sales Inc. for the sanitation and supplies division from 1980 to 2014.  In 2014, Charles went to the Neogen Corporation as theTerritory Manager of Dairy Accounts Food Safety Diagnostic Tests Central Staes USA.


Vivian Saunders – Charm Sciences

Vivian Saunders is Senior Accounts Manager for Charm Sciences, she has worked for Charm for 21 years. Prior to Charm she worked for Borden Dairy in Youngstown, OH as QA. After graduating from Ohio State University in 1976 with a BS in Microbiology she moved back to her homestead in Salem, OH and started her dairy journey with Elsie the cow. Viv has been married to Gary, her high school sweetheart for 42 years with their upcoming anniversary on April 17th. Family, faith and friends and her cats are the foundation of Viv’s life.


Katie Cornelious – IDEXX Laboratories


Dawn Hillyer – Hiding Hilda, LLC


Kevin Olson – Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.

Kevin Olson is currently employed as Director of Member Relations with Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. of Carlinville, Illinois. He is involved with member relations issues since his start with Prairie Farms in 1991. Within the company, internal opportunities allowed Kevin a shift in emphasis from daily procurement to field services in 2004.  Kevin assumed responsibility for the cooperative’s quality incentive program in 2007 and later accepted the title of Director of Member Relations.  Kevin is a member of the National Milk Producer’s Federation Animal Health and Well-Being, Environmental Issues and NCIMS Committees, has been involved in the development of FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management), and leads the Prairie Farms second-party evaluation process through this program.  In conjunction with the FARM program, Kevin leads Prairie Farms’ corporate sustainability efforts from the member side of the processor supply chain.  Kevin is also a member of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments, Council III.  Kevin’s life-long passion for the dairy industry extends from his raising on a Wisconsin dairy farm and experience as a dairy herdsman in Wisconsin and Illinois.


Dr. Shaw Perrin – DVMS Clinic


Patrick Hash – Indiana Board of Animal Health

Patrick Hash’s 2017 appointment to Director of the Dairy Division at the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) marks a return to the agency. Patrick previously served as a dairy inspector for Southeastern Indiana for 2 years until 2013. In the interim, Patrick worked as a dairy inspector and Pasteurization Specialist for 3 years for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  Patrick holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Youth Development and Ag Education from Purdue University. He began his career as a high school Ag Science and Business teacher, as well as FFA chapter advisor.  A native of Greensburg, Ind., Patrick is an active volunteer in his community, along with his wife Paige and four children.


Dr. Nicole Olynk-Widmar – Purdue University

Dr. Nicole Olynk Widmar is an Agricultural Economist specializing in farm business management and on-farm decision making.  She received her A.A.S. from Alfred State College in Animal Science, B.S. from Cornell University in Animal Science, and M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Agricultural Economics.  Dr. Widmar has an integrated program of applied research, extension and outreach, and teaching; she teaches AGEC 310, Farm Organization, as well as coordinates the graduate-level seminar course, The Business of Agriculture.  She has a strong interest in applied research which incorporates both the economic outcomes of an on-farm decision and the intricacies of the biological processes underlying the production system employed. Nicole has a strong interest in inter-disciplinary research which provides support for on-farm decision making regarding technology adoption, analysis of producer costs and benefits associated with alternative production processes, support for management of purchased inputs, and providing insight into the implications of changing consumer demand and preferences for agricultural producers.  


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