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2019 Keynote Speakers

Dr. Lewis Ziska, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Lewis Ziska - 2019 Small Farm- Conference Speaker

Dr. Lewis Ziska is a plant physiologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland. After graduating from the University o California, Davis, he began his career as a Smithsonian fellow and took up residence as the project leader for global climate change at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines before joining the USDA. 

Since joining the USDA, Ziska has published more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles related to climate change and rising carbon dioxide that address: agriculture and food security; weeds and weed management; invasive species; and plant biology and public health. 

Ziska is a contributor to the 2014 International Panel on Climate Change report (Food Security  Chapter); the 2014 National Climate Assessment (Public Health Chapter); and most recently, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific  Assessment . His work has appeared in Scientific American, USA Today, CBS Nightly News, CBS Sunday Morning, National Geographic, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

He authored Weed Biology and Climate Change (with Jeff Dukes) and was editor of Invasive Species and Global Climate Change (with Jeff Dukes). His most recent book is titled Agriculture, Climate Change and Food Security in the 21st Century: Our Daily Bread.

Russell Hedrick, JRH Grain Farms

Russell Hedrick - 2019 Small Farm Conference Speaker

Russell Hedrick is a first-generation farmer who has a dedication to growing some of the finest grain and livestock in his region of the Southeast. After forming JRH Grain Farms, his exceptional use of new technologies and cover crops led him to being awarded the North Carolina Innovative Young Farmer of the Year by North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in 2014.

Hedrick has been a featured producer in the Farm Press magazine for maximizing his cover crop benefits, national No-till Farmer for integration of cattle onto covers and the Haney Test for reducing fertilizer inputs on cash crops.

Through hard work, his operation has grown to almost 1,000 acres. Hedrick’s operation focuses on maximizing profits and direct consumer marketing for their products, including corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, and pasture beef and pork. He has partnered with Foothills Distillery, producing the first bourbon in North Carolina since prohibition.

He enjoys time on the farm with his daughter, Emmalynn, teaching the next generation about regenerative agriculture and the value of hard work.