Farm Foundation® June 2024 Cultivators Presenting Research at Round Table

The June cohort of Farm Foundation Cultivators will present their research at the upcoming Round Table meeting in Broomfield, Colorado, on June 20. Twice a year, Farm Foundation gathers professionals from across the food and agriculture value chain at Round Table meetings to promote discussion and interaction among thought leaders in government, academics, agribusiness, and other interest groups. The June Round Table theme is “Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide.” The Cultivators program gives the next generation of agribusiness leaders a seat at the table.

Cultivators, who may be undergraduate or graduate students, are selected from a competitive pool of applicants from accredited North American colleges or universities. Students are nominated by their college dean or department head.

Each Cultivator is connected with a Farm Foundation Round Table participant who acts as a mentor for the meeting, letting students know what to expect and making sure they are interacting with other attendees. Cultivators are expected to participate in all aspects of the meeting and present a poster representing a key aspect of their studies.

“We are very excited to have these incredible students bring their valuable research findings to an important discussion at this Round Table meeting,” says Jenna Wicks, Farm Foundation program manager. “These students are the future leaders in agriculture and their contributions current and future will help shape the agricultural landscape of tomorrow.”

Cultivators selected for June 2024 are listed below. Their mentors are all Round Table Fellows.

Kayla Grey, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Mentor: Rebecca Doyle, Partner, HGPF and Doyle Associate; Senior Associate, The Context Network
Presentation Title: Horseradish Seed Production Among Various Illinois Accessions and Varieties
Kayla is a graduating senior in both horticulture and animal science with a minor in environmental studies. She will begin her master’s degree during the summer of 2024, in production horticulture at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIUC). Her current and master’s research encompasses horseradish, red raspberries, and peaches.

Stephanie Gripp, Oklahoma State University
Mentor: Matt Moreland, Partner, Moreland Farms
Presentation Title: Political Capital in Rural Southwest Oklahoma
Stephanie, a graduate teaching assistant from Sheffield, Illinois, is pursuing a master’s degree in international agriculture at Oklahoma State University. Her bachelor’s in animal science has aided in her formal report research comparing the willingness of U.S. and New Zealand dairy farmers to incorporate new technology. During her undergraduate studies, Stephanie researched political capital in rural southwest Oklahoma with OSU’s Rural Renewal Initiative (RRI).

Brynn Johnson, University of Florida
Mentor: Bonnie Brayton, Venture Associate, Fulcrum Global Capital
Presentation Title: Examining the Ecology and Control of Corn Silk Fly (Diptera: Ulidiidae)
Brynn is a dedicated scholar currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida, with a minor in geography. Her previous academic achievements include a Master of Science degree in Entomology and Nematology, where she developed a method to rear honey bee ectoparasite, Varroa destructor, in an in vitro system.

Nafisa Lubna, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Mentor: Fabiola Perez, Planters Group Product Planner, John Deere
Presentation Title: Integrating Natural Resources Management Into Antimicrobial Resistance Education and Prevention
Nafisa is a PhD student in natural resource sciences and a graduate research assistant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her experience covers a wide range of topics, including antimicrobial resistance, soil and water conservation, toxicology, and analytical chemistry. Her research right now is on the root cause and risk factor analysis of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in poultry and livestock manure.

Robert Meireis, Colorado State University
Mentor: John Power, President, LSC International Inc
Presentation Title: Artificial Intelligence Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide
Robert is pursuing a degree in soil and crop sciences from Colorado State University, with a focus on dual majors in agriculture business management and soil and crop sciences, complemented by a minor in agroecosystems. He comes from a small town in Gill, Colorado, where he spent his formative years on his family’s dairy farm.

Kayla Scott, The Ohio State University
Mentor: Howard Halderman, President, Halderman Farm Management Service, Inc. 
Presentation Title: Investigating the Effects of Sheep Sex (Ram vs Wether) on Productivity and Carcass Characteristics and Their Potential for Vegetation Management on Solar Farms
Kayla is pursuing a master’s degree at Ohio State, concentrating on small ruminant extension and research. She attained her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University in December 2023, with a major in animal science and a minor in meat science.

Ivan Solomon, Tuskegee University
Mentor: Jay Akridge, Trustee Chair in Teaching and Learning Experience, Purdue University 
Presentation Title: Bridging the Gap between Black Belt and Urban Alabama
Ivan is enrolled at Tuskegee University as a Pickering Fellow. He is studying agricultural and resource economics to prepare for a career as a U.S. diplomat. He earned a B.A. from Pomona College in international relations and Middle Eastern studies. After graduating, he served as a Fulbright English professor in Rabat, Morocco, and most recently worked for three years at an education non-profit.

The Farm Foundation Round Table is an invitation‐only group of thought leaders, policy makers, and influential figures from a broad cross‐section of the food and agriculture value chain. The group, with invited guests, meets twice a year to discuss issues of importance to agribusiness, the food system, and rural communities. Round Table discussions also generate new ideas for Farm Foundation project work. By attending these events, student Cultivators have the unique opportunity to interact with leaders in today’s food and agriculture sector. Learn more about the program and each Cultivator at

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