KEYNOTE: Dr. Pat Keyser is a Professor and Director for the Center for Native Grasslands Management at the University of Tennessee. In that role, Dr. Keyser provides regional and national leadership in the development and implementation of comprehensive research and outreach programs focused on the management of native grasslands. This includes work on use of native grasses in forage production systems for livestock, biofuels production, the integration of forage and biofuels, answering specific management questions for native grasses, restoration of natural grassland communities such as woodlands and savannahs, and wildlife responses to native grasslands management. He has authored or co-authored 63 grants worth nearly $11 million in support of his research (more than 50 research projects to date) and outreach activities (including numerous on-farm demonstration projects) all leading to 300 publications including 80 articles in scientific journals. He has directed or co-directed 14 and mentored an additional 32 graduate students and made more than 400 presentations to a wide variety of audiences including students, scientists, and producers. He and his wife of 36 years have been blessed with four children and 3 exceptionally good-looking grandchildren and make their home in East Tennessee.


Hugh Aljoe serves as the director of producer relations, providing oversight to the consultation and education programs for producers in the Southern Great Plains. He is also a pasture and range consultant. Aljoe joined the Noble Research Institute in 1995. Before coming to the Noble Research Institute in 1995, Aljoe served 10 years as the ranch manager of Belvedere Land & Cattle Corp., a 3,900-acre, 1,500-head purebred and commercial cow-calf operation in East Texas, using adaptive multi-paddock grazing. Aljoe attended Texas A&M University where he received his BS and MS degrees.


Drexel Atkisson was raised on a beef farm in Dade County Missouri, where he and his family continue to operate a beef operation. After receiving a degree in Agronomy, Drexel began work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in 1992. In 2010 a Soil Health workshop sparked a new passion that has grown ever since. Drexel began to work with producers to change the way they operated their land. Believing that we must produce food and fiber with less inputs in a more sustainable way, it has become his mission to help others adopt the key principles of soil health. As the Area Soil Health Specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, he has been able to focus his efforts doing just that. Drexel has a sincere passion to work with Missouri’s farmers and ranchers to improve soil health in Southwest Missouri.


Dr. Gary E. Bates is a Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences. Has a seventy-five percent appointment with The University of Tennessee Extension as the Forage Crop Specialist. He is responsible for developing and maintaining a statewide educational program in the area of forage crop establishment and production. He has been primarily involved in teaching agricultural professionals and others in non-classroom settings. Philosophy on teaching is to provide clientele the information needed for them to be as profitable and sustainable as possible. This means using sound, unbiased research information in an educational program. His goal is to develop his educational program in such a way that it provides critical information to producers ahead of when it is needed. As new research studies are published, new species or varieties are released, or new chemicals/techniques for management are developed, extends this information to Extension agents and producers to help them be as prepared as possible for decision making. Part of the forage educational program is focused on conducting applied research that can help Extension agents answer questions from producers in their county. He works cooperatively with other UTIA faculty to design and conduct projects in the area of weed control, species selection, fertilization and management. Dr. Bates has a 25% administrative appointment, serving as the director of the UT Beef and Forage Center. Responsibilities include facilitating educational and research programs to benefit beef and forage producers across the state and the Southeast.


Dr. Tim Evans is an Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and the Toxicology Section Head at the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri. He received his DVM from the University of California, Davis in 1982, and he earned both his MS (1996) and PhD (2002) from MIZZOU. Dr. Evans is board-certified in both Theriogenology (animal reproduction) and Veterinary Toxicology. Equipped with a flashing glove which does absolutely nothing and a calculator, Dr. Evans’ alter ego, THE ANTIDOTE, is the enemy of ALL things toxic.


Joe Horner works as a dairy and beef economist for the Commercial Agriculture Program at the University of Missouri. In his position he assists producers in analyzing farm finances, creates informal adult educational opportunities for producers and assists in projects that strengthen Missouri’s dairy and beef industry. A Southwest Missouri native, Horner has worked for extension for 26 years. He spent the first 12 years of his extension career as a regional extension dairy and farm management specialist in southeast Missouri before moving to his current statewide assignment. Before going to work for extension, Horner worked for Cargill’s Feed Division. He received a B.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri in 1985 and an M.S. in agricultural economics from the University of California, Davis in 1987.


John Jennings is a Professor and has been Extension Forage Specialist for 21 years with the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture. He has 34 years of experience as a forage agronomist. His extension program emphasizes improved forage management, extending grazing seasons through the Arkansas 300 Days Grazing program and teaching youth about forage management in the 4H Grassland Evaluation Contest.


Mark Kennedy was raised on a diversified family beef, dairy, and catfish farm in central Arkansas and received a BS degree in both animal science and forages from Arkansas State University in 1977. He was employed by USDA – SCS/NRCS from September, 1978 until January 3, 2014 when he retired. He served at various locations in Arkansas and Missouri. From 1995 until he retired, he was the State Grazingland Specialist for USDA-NRCS in Missouri, headquartered in Houston, Missouri. He is a Certified Forage & Grassland Professional through the American Forage and Grassland Council. In 2004 he received the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council’s Grasslander of the year award. In 2006 he was awarded the NRCS National Pastureland Conservationist of the Year award. He received the Merit Award from AFGC in 2011. He is a board member of the American Forage and Grassland Council and currently serves as its Past-President. Mark served on the AFGC board from 2006 – 2010 and again starting in 2015. He is currently on the steering committee of the National Grazing Lands Coalition representing AFGC. He has been very active with the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council/Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. He helped re-organize the council in the early 1990’s, later serving as a board member and President. He served as an ex-officio board member for over 20 years. Throughout his career, Mark and his wife Anita, have owned and operated farms raising some combination of meat goats, beef cattle and sheep. Currently they live on a small acreage near Reeds Spring, MO.



Derrell Peel is the Charles Breedlove Professor of Agribusiness in the Department of Agricultural Economics. He has served as the Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist since he came to Oklahoma State University in 1989. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees from Montana State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He previously served as the Superintendent of the Southeastern Colorado Range Research Station in Springfield Colorado. His main program areas at Oklahoma State University include livestock market outlook and marketing/risk management education for livestock producers. Derrell also works in the area of international livestock and meat trade with particular focus on Mexico and Canada and the North American livestock and meat industry. He lived in Mexico on sabbatical in 2001 and has developed an extensive knowledge of the Mexican cattle and beef industry and the economics of cattle and beef trade between the U.S. and Mexico.


Ken Coffey is a Professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Arkansas. Much of Ken’s research both in Arkansas for 22 years and for the 10 years he worked in southeastern Kansas focused on tall fescue toxicosis. His early work in Kansas focused on management effects including legume overseeding and how the impacts of those management practices carried over into a subsequent feedlot period. His work in Arkansas has focused more on the cow-calf side of production. His latest fescue research focused on the impacts of calving season and the use of non-toxic, endophyte infected fescue in cow-calf production. Ken received a BS degree from the University of Tennessee, a MS degree from the University of Kentucky, and a PhD degree from the University of Missouri. He, his wife Linda (from Westphalia, MO), and his family have lived in Arkansas for 22 years and own and operate a small ruminant operation.