Kick-Off Event

October 2019

Identifying Emerging Opportunities
for Arizona Agriculture

October 10-11, 2019

Mesa Community College, Kirk Student Center, Navajo Room
1833 West Southern Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85202
(parking in East Parking Lot C recommended)

Event Summary

This two-day interactive workshop was held to advance agricultural research and education at Arizona State University and Mesa Community College through engagement with the stakeholder community. Over 115 members of the community attended the event. We heard from 5 community leaders at the event start about how their organizations are working to support agricultural research and education. We then heard from 19 panelists about opportunities for Arizona Agriculture. On Day 2, 17 people gave lightning presentations about their work related to AZ agriculture and more engaged in discussions on new collaborations.

  • October 10 (12pm-6pm) the goal was to bring together the stakeholder community to discuss emerging opportunities for Arizona agriculture and to help introduce ASU, MCC, and other local students to careers and opportunities in agriculture.
  • October 11 (7:30am-12pm) the goal was to foster new collaborations between the ASU community, USDA scientists, local community college faculty, and the agricultural community. 


Final Agenda

Thursday, October 10 (12:00 pm – 6:00 pm)

12:00 pm-1:00 pm

Welcome & introductions over networking lunch

  • Mark Killian, Director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture
  • Rich Haney, President of Mesa Community College
  • Ann McKenna, Vice Dean of Strategic Advancement for Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University
  • Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, Arizona State University
  • Mark Manfredo, Director – Morrison School of Agribusiness, Associate Dean – W. P. Carey School at ASU Polytechnic  
1:00 pm-2:30 pm

Panel on future of AZ agriculture –  Moderated by Chrissie Bausch & Sarah Porter

  • Stefanie Smallhouse, Arizona Farm Bureau, Carlink Ranch
  • Jim Manos, Hickman’s Family Farms
  • Paul Brierley, Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture
  • Rosanne Albright, Environmental Programs Coordinator: Air Quality, Brownfields, Food System, City of Phoenix 
  • Homer Marks, Sr. President/CEO of the Southwest Indian Agricultural Association, member of the Tohono O’Odham Nation

2:30 pm-2:45 pm

Coffee Break
2:45 pm – 3:30 pm

Careers in agriculture panel – Moderated by Clinton Williams

  • Andy French, Physical Scientist at the US Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center Water Management and Conservation Research Unit
  • James Kim, Agricultural Engineer at the US Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center
  • Sharma Torrens, Marketing Manager at the Arizona Department of Agriculture
  • Rene Villalobos, Associate Professor, School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University 
3:30 pm – 4:15 pm

Agriculture opportunities in diverse communities panel – Moderated by Otakuye Conroy-Ben

  • Trent Teegerstrom, Associate Director for Tribal Extension Programs, University of Arizona
  • George Brooks, Jr., Founder and President of the NxT Horizon Group, Adjunct Professor at Mesa Community College
  • Michael Kotutwa Johnson (Hopi), Ph.D, Research Associate, Native American Agriculture Fund
  • Roselyn Yazzie, Chief Operation Officer, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry
4:15 pm – 5:00 pm

Waste to benefit opportunities panel – Moderated by Rebecca Muenich

  • Bruce Rittmann, Regents Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University
  • Cassie Lyman, Chair of the Food and Agriculture Policy and Advisor Committee
  • Alicia Perry, Owner of Perry Land & Cattle
  • Justin Perry, Owner, CTS Greenwaste Recycling
5:00 pm-6:00 pm

Network & Nosh in the MCC Urban Garden

Local food catered by Jennifer’s Catering


Friday, October 11 (7:30 am – 12:00 pm)

7:30 am-8:30 am

Networking and continental breakfast
8:30 am – 9:00 am

Recap from Day 1


9:00 am-10:00 am

Lightning presentations

Matt Fraser, Edmund Williams, Steven Vickner, Yujin Park, Yuhang Wei, Tianfang Xu, Yuqiang Bi, Zhaocheng Wang, Zhihao Chen, George Brooks, Valentino Reyes, Kerry Hamilton, Nazli Uludere Aragon, Arthur Getz Escudero, Kate Radosevic, Eduardo Bautista

10:00 am-10:30 am

Introduction to agricultural funding opportunities

Keisha Tatem, USDA/NRCS State Conservationist 

Colton Hernandez, County Executive Director, Pinal-Pima Farm Service Agency

10:30 am-10:45 am

Coffee Break

10:45 am-11:45 am

World Café

Encouraging discussion of specific themes of research or educational opportunities

11:45 am-12:00 pm

Closing remarks