Shirley Brooks-Jones inspired attendees to look for ways to give back to their own communities during her keynote speech.

OABA conference focuses on opportunities of 2020 and beyond

More than 400 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and networking at the organization’s annual Industry Conference, January 29-31 at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville.

Through a variety of sessions presented by well-respected speakers from across the country, the conference allowed attendees to focus on the opportunities available in 2020 and beyond.

“After a challenging 2019, industry professionals came together to focus on the issues impacting Ohio agriculture and discover innovative solutions,” said Christopher Henney, OABA president and CEO. “It was energizing to be surrounded by our members and other industry professionals who have such great vision and passion for investing in a successful agricultural industry.”

The conference addressed key topics in today’s agriculture industry, such as crop and pest management, economic and trade outlook, workforce challenges, changing industry trends, crisis management and more. Attendees were also able to take advantage of two conference enhancements the Safety & Risk Management Pre-event Day on Jan. 29 and the AMP’T leadership program on Jan. 31.

During the Industry Dinner, Shirley Brooks-Jones inspired attendees to look for ways to give back to their own communities during her keynote “From Life-Changing to World-Changing: The Power of Giving Back.” Brooks-Jones’ life was forever changed when her plane was diverted to Newfoundland, Canada on Sept. 11, 2001. She and her fellow passengers experienced the boundless hospitality of the locals, which in turn inspired the passengers to launch a scholarship initiative for the youth of the community.

Other notable speakers at the three-day event included Michael Swanson, Wells Fargo Bank; Janette Barnard, Entrepreneur; Jim Canterucci, Constituent Hub; Scott Caine, Aimpoint Research; and several educators and researchers from University of Illinois, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky.

At the Industry Dinner and Annual Meeting on Jan. 30, OABA recognized the recipients of the 2020 OABA Industry Excellence Awards. Cindy Ridzon of Witmer’s Feed & Grain, Inc. received the Excellence in Safety & Stewardship Award; Karie Staley of Central Ohio Farmers Co-op received the Achievement as an Emerging Leader Award. During the annual meeting, OABA announced new members to the Board of Directors.

Additionally, the Board of Directors has new leadership for 2020-2021. Jackie Seibert of L W Seibert Farms, LLC will serve as Chairwoman of the Board. Robert Mullen of Nutrien was elected to serve as Vice Chairman. Nathan Louiso of Axis Seed transitions from his role as Chairman to Past Chairman. The ninth annual OABA Industry Conference will be held January 27 to 29, 2021 at the Renaissance Columbus Westerville.

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