CATE Leadership

Learning from Leaders

At least once each academic year, the College of Agriculture brings in a guest speaker to talk about leadership strategies, successes and lessons learned.  Learning from Leaders connects students, faculty and staff with the brightest and best stars in Agriculture and Leadership Development.

The Learning from Leaders series was launched in the spring of 2010 with the following objectives:

  • To engage leaders with students, faculty and staff of Purdue Agriculture.
  • To expand and deepen our students' understanding of contemporary industry and social issues and the foundations of leadership in a variety of contexts.
  • To lay the groundwork for future partnerships that benefit the college and the leader.


james monger

Fall 2022 FlyerNicole Roberts, Associate Brand Manager, Elanco

Nicole grew up in Southern Indiana close to her grandparents dairy farm. She finished her Bachelors in Animal Sciences, Animal Agribusiness in 2008 and earned her Masters in Animal Sciences, Ruminant Nutrition in 2010. Upon graduation she began working with Elanco Animal Health in June of 2010. During the last 12 years, she has had various roles within Elanco in sales and marketing, both the US affiliate and global and also in the farm animal and pet health areas of the business.

For the Fall 2019 semester, the Learning from Leaders series will feature Greg Nickerson, Chairman of Bader Rutter, on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 5:00 pm in the Deans Auditorium in Pfendler Hall.  A reception will be hosted prior to the event beginning at 4:15 pm in Leopold's Landing on the second floor of Pfendler Hall.  Bader Rutter is the largest agri-marketing agency in the country and has been for more than a decade.  The agency serves companies such as Corteva Agriscience, Pioneer brand, Zoetis Animal Health and Case IH.  Greg has served on the National FFA Foundation Sponsors Board, been awarded an honorary American Farmer degree and currently serves on the National Board for teh Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and is involved in several civic organizations in the Milwaukee area.

The title for Greg Nickerson's talk on October 9, 2019 is Leadership in an Era of Disruption. New technologies.  Global trade upheavel.  Changing consumer preferences.  This time of unprecedented disruption creates both opportunities and obstacles for achieving success.  With 30 years of experience running the largest agri-makketing agency in the country, Greg will connect the dots between leadership principles and the disruptive forces impacting agriculture drawing on this experience and client portfolio.  Join Greg as he shares the thoughts on the art of leadership during turbulent times.

Fall 2018 Learning from Leaders Event featured Andrew McPeak on Thursday, September 20, 2018.  Andrew McPeak is the Program Excellence Manager at Growing Leaders as well as a Writer and Leadership Speaker.

Andrew is a millennial speaker and content developer with Growing Leaders.  His experiences as both a presenter and curriculum designer have led him to become well-versed in communicating to and about the next generation.  In his role as Program Excellence Manager, he works closely with schools, universities, companies and sports teams on implementing Habitudes as a tool to teach life and leadership skills.  This experience enables him to help leaders understand how to craft their message in a way that best connects today's students.  Most notably, Andrew is co-author alongside Dr. Tim Elmore on their latest book - Marching Off The Map - that presents information on the world's newest generation of students (Gen Z) and helps educators understand how to best connect with and lead them in the classroom.

In the spring of 2017, Learning from Leaders featured Mark Poeschl, Chief Executive Officer of the National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation with his talk entitled Sustainability & Survivability - the Balancing Act to Feed the World on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Mark Poeschl is responsible for operations and long-term success within agricultural education. He started his career at Ralston Purina in 1983 as manager of Dealer Financial Services then transitioned to Carl S. Akey, Inc., serving as chief financial officer, vice president of operations and chief operating officer from 1987 to 2000.  In 2000, Provimi Holding BV, a global animal nutrition company, purchased Akey and named Mark CEO, president and general manager of the newly formed North American Nutrition.  He became group vice president and relocated to Europe in 2009 before being named vice president, group director and stakeholder engagement at Cargill Animal Nutrition in 2011.

The Fall 2015 Learning from Leaders event featured a panel of leaders with a discussion format on Thursday, November 2015.  The panel members included:

  • Dan Dawes - Business Unit Leader at DuPont Crop
  • Frank DeGennaro - Director of DuPont Biologicals
  • Jerry Flint, Ph.D. - Vice President of Industry Affairs & Regulatory at DuPont Pioneer

The panel discussion on leadership included the following topics:

  • What are the world's biggest challenges today?
  • What is your role?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What does it take to be a leader?
  • What's important to you as you think about emerging leaders?
  • How has leadership evolved or changed over time?
  • How do you balance the desire for collaboration vs. the need for efficiency?
  • What personally drives you?
  • What advice can you share with our future leaders at Purdue?

The Learning from Leaders series hosted Antonio Galindez, President and CEO of Dow AgroSciences.  Antonio gave a talk on Visible Leadership: Challenges for Agriculture and Business.

The Fall 2012 Learning from Leaders event featured Jane Ade Stevens, CEO of Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Corn Growers Association. Jane's presentation focused on the Roadmap to Success - Creating Vision and Strategic Direction. 


The Spring 2011 Learning from Leaders session featured Don Villwock, President of Indiana Farm Bureau and Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance on April 21, 2011. Don's talk, entitled "If it is to be, it is up to me," focused on his leadership experiences from his farming operation and career with Farm Bureau.  Don Villwock is a Purdue Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus and a Sagamore of the Wabash recipient.

FALL 2011

For the Fall 2011 Learning from Leaders event, Sonny Beck, Owner of Beck's Superior Hybrids, gave a talk on Creating Vision and Strategic Direction to Ag students on November 1, 2011.


Learning from Leaders for Spring 2010 featured Tom Davis from Meredith Corporation on April 6, 2010.

2010 FALL

The Fall 2010 Learning from Leaders event took place on November 11, 2010 and featured Vern Hawkins from Syngenta.  Vern's leadership talk covered The Keys to Effective Conflict Management.

At the time of his talk, Vern served as President of the NAFTA Crop Protection for Syngenta.