Agriculture Future of America Adds Esteemed College Dean to Board of Directors

March 18, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (March 18, 2021) — Agriculture Future of America (AFA) recently appointed University of Florida Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dr. R. Elaine Turner to its Board of Directors. Dr. Turner fills the seat of Dr. Rolando Flores — dean of New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences — who is retiring from the board after serving a three-year term.

Serving more than 5,000 students in 22 undergraduate and 22 graduate majors, Dr. Turner has a strong commitment to promoting excellence in teaching and academic advising. She has been recognized with numerous awards including University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Undergraduate Teacher of the Year and Undergraduate Advisor of the Year; U.S. Department of Agriculture National Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences; and Morton Wolfson Faculty Award for Outstanding Service to University of Florida Students.

“Dr. Turner’s commitment to cultivating vibrant and engaged leaders in agriculture is seen through her dedication to University of Florida students,” says Mark Stewart, AFA president and CEO. “We are excited to bring her passion from her position as dean to students involved in AFA experiences.”

AFA board members are recognized leaders from food and agricultural corporations, educational institutions, associations, trade media and production agriculture. The AFA Board of Directors meets three times annually to provide strategic and fiduciary oversight for the organization.

In addition to Dr. Turners appointment, five board members renewed their seat on the board for another three-year term. Those individuals include Travis Becton, John Deere; Abe Hughes, Trimble Inc.; Joel Mathiowetz, Mathiowetz Family Farms; Matt Plitt, Valent USA, LLC; and Steve Reno, Coretva Agriscience.

“The leadership and diverse perspectives each individual brings to the board is exciting and we are thrilled to have these talented professionals leading AFA,” says Stewart. “Board members provide strategic guidance to the organization while living out AFA’s mission of building bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture.”

In total, bylaws of the organization allow for 21 seated directors divided into three classes, as well as lifetime directors and the chair of the AFA Alliance Planning Committee, which guides AFA’s young professional offerings. This year’s Alliance representative is Ellen Zimmerman, director of industry relations at the U.S. Grains Council.

AFA Board of Directors
Camille Abrams, CHS Inc.
Travis Becton, John Deere
Teddy Bekele, Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Abe Hughes, Trimble Inc.
Scott Kay, BASF
Joel Mathiowetz, Mathiowetz Family Farms
Marc Mears, Cargill, Inc.
Rodney Patterson, Farm Credit
Shelly Phalen, Smithfield Foods
Matt Plitt, Valent USA, LLC
Julie Anna Potts, North American Meat Institute
Chandra Reddy, Tennessee State University
Steve Reno, Corteva Agriscience
Gwyn Schramm, Bayer
Mark Stewart, Agriculture Future of America
R. Elaine Turner, University of Florida
Manda Tweten, ADM
Megan Weidner, Bunge North America 

Lifetime Members
Sandy Kemper, C2FO
J. Mariner Kemper, UMB Financial Corporation
L. Joshua Sosland, Sosland Publishing Company
Russell Weathers, Agriculture Future of America 

AFA Alliance Representative
Ellen Zimmerman, U.S. Grains Council

About Agriculture Future of America
AFA builds bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture through premier leader and career development experiences. With program participation increasing 28% in the last five years, AFA has provided 21,000 leader development experiences to college leaders and young professionals from more than 200 colleges and universities throughout 43 states since its inception in 1996. AFA has awarded more than $10 million in academic and leader development scholarships. For more information about AFA, visit