​Twelve Featured Speakers Provide Insight

Donnie Smith, Former CEO of Tyson Foods speaking to students in the Executive Seminar Series
​Donnie Smith, former CEO of Tyson Foods, was one of twelve speakers featured in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics’ 2018 Executive Seminar Series (AREC 495), bringing successful leaders and alumni into the classroom.

​KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In recent years, the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC) launched the executive seminar series, bringing a broad array of agricultural professionals and industry leaders directly into the classroom. The invited speakers provide a uniquely motivational learning environment that quickly drew student interest. In fact, the series has become so popular that the upcoming 2019 class is already at maximum capacity.

“This class connects students with professionals and industry leaders, giving students a clearer picture of the end-goal of their college education,” says AREC associate professor Chris Boyer who co-led and developed the class with AREC assistant professor Karen DeLong.

Speakers for the 2018 series included:
  • Tim Cross, chancellor of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
  • Jai Templeton, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Tennessee Department of Agriculture
  • Phil Perkins, co-owner of Knox Whiskey Works, former senior VP of R&D for Bush Brothers & Company
  • Jim Herbert, founder and former CEO of Neogen
  • Roger Thurow, author and senior fellow on global food and agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Jeff Aiken, president of Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation
  • Donnie Smith, former CEO of Tyson Foods
  • Kim Allen, previous president of the commercial division of Henry Schein Animal Health and previous board of directors of the American Veterinary Distributors Association
  • Robert Brown, president and chief forecasting officer of Robert Brown, Inc.
  • Wade Smith, vice president of OSI Group
  • Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Farm Credit Mid-America
  • Jeff Hunt, partner/owner of Hayden Hunt Agri-Marketing

 “This class is designed to enable student interaction with successful alumni, which helps them recognize the real-world application of material they learn in our classes and how their education can be applied to a variety of careers in the agricultural and agribusiness fields,” says DeLong.

In addition to hearing presentations on vital agricultural topics directly from industry leaders, students also benefit from hands-on exercises, such as creating mock marketing plans for dairies and one-on-one discussion with the presenters who are largely Herbert College of Agriculture alumni.

“Kim Allen’s speech about the future of animal health and veterinary medicine was impactful for me in that it caused some realizations that veterinary medicine is indeed changing and quickly so,” says Herbert College of Agriculture student Isabella Hughes. “I feel that her speech will give me an upper hand and a better perspective for dealing with these changes as I further my education in the field and eventually go into practice.”

The AREC 495: Executive Seminar Series will be offered again in fall 2019.