Top Producer Seminar Speakers

- Keynote -

Major DanDan Rooney Rooney, USAF

Major Dan “Noonan” Rooney is a fighter pilot with 3 combat tours in Iraq, a PGA Golf Professional, and the founder of the Folds of Honor. He has served as the motivational speaker for two U.S Ryder Cup teams and is a frequent guest with FOX News. A decorated military aviator, Major Rooney is currently stationed at Tyndall AFB Florida as a member of 301st Fighter Squadron. He is a two-time recipient of the Top Gun award and has received many decorations to include the Distinguished Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Anti-terrorism Medal, and Air Expeditionary Medal.

Major Rooney is the driving force behind Folds of Honor, which raised over $100 million and awarded over 13,000 scholarships to the family members of KIA or disabled soldiers.

For his service and patriotism—Rooney was presented the White House's “Presidential Volunteer Service Award” by President George W. Bush, the Air National Guard’s “Directors Service Award” and the Ellis Island “Medal of Honor.” He was honored at The Masters Invitational with the “William D. Richardson Award” for his outstanding contributions to golf and received the PGA of America's first-ever “Patriot Award.” He has been recognized as one of People Magazine's “Heroes of the Year,” Money Magazine’s “Hero of the Year” and ABC World News Tonight's “Persons of the Year.”

Rooney founded The Patriot, a Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed course in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Patriot is home to the Folds of Honor Foundation headquarters.

Major Rooney is the author of A Patriot’s Calling – Living Life Between Fear and Faith and the proud father of five daughters.

Watch a video of "Dan's Message" at

- General Session Speakers -

Steve LerchSteve Lerch, Google

Steve Lerch is an account executive in Google's Washington, DC office. After attending the University of Pittsburgh, Steve moved to Mountain View, Calif., to work at Google's headquarters. He helped globally recognized consumer electronics brands like GoPro, FitBit and OtterBox better utilize digital tools and strategies to build their brands and drive ecommerce sales.

For the last four years, Steve has been working as an account executive partnering with various checkoff programs under the USDA's AMS program. Steve's clients include the National Pork Board, American Egg Board, Milk Processor Education Program, and National Cattlemen's Beef.



Eric SnodgrassEric Snodgrass, University of Illinois

Eric Snodgrass is the lead Atmospheric Scientist at Agrible Inc., and he assesses and forecasts weather risks in the agriculture industry. His expertise lies in synoptic weather analysis and forecasting, and much of his research has focused on high resolution satellite and dual polarization Doppler radar observations. Eric is also a director of undergraduate studies in the department of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois. His Severe and Hazardous Weather class and others have earned him recognition on the “List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent” by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.

As one of last year’s highest-ranked speakers, you don’t want to miss his predictions for 2019.


John GladigauJohn Gladigau, Collaborative Farming Australia

John is a third-generation farmer, living and farming with his wife and two children in the Northern Mallee region of South Australia on the 2000 ha family property purchased by his grandfather in 1956.

In 2009, John and Bronwyn joined together with another local farming family to create “Bulla Burra’, a collaborative family farm formed by the merging of two existing family farms, and the leasing / share farming of additional land. Currently in its eighth season, Bulla Burra’s operations crops 11,000 ha of cereals and legumes in a model focussed on not only on efficiency and economics, but also passion, relationships, professionalism and promoting a positive image for their industry.

In 2008 John was also one of the founding partners of Collaborative Farming Australia, which provided the framework and guiding principles under which Bulla Burra operates. Collaborative Farming Australia has worked with many different farmers, consultants and industry groups to create positive outcomes, including the creation of numerous collaborative farms in industries ranging from cropping and livestock to wine grapes.

Jerry GulkeJerry Gulke, Gulke Group

Jerry Gulke was born and raised on a grain and livestock farm near Ellendale, N.D. He received his degree in electrical engineering from North Dakota State University and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. In 1976, he began farming full time in northern Illinois and is currently active in the corn and soybean production along with the overall management of the farm. It was his common-sense ability to manage his farm and market his production successfully in some of the most troubling times in agriculture that ultimately led to contributing to Top Producer magazine.

After gaining the respect and attention among producers, it led Jerry into the field of consulting and the formation of The Gulke Group Inc. Jerry is featured on many radio spots, including “AgWeb Radio,” along with appearances on television programs such as “U.S. Farm Report” and “Squawk on the Street.”


Mary KellyMary Kelly, Productive Leaders

Mary is an internationally recognized economist, author, and speaker who shares her perspective on creating strong leadership, productivity and communication. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, with a PhD in economics, Mary learned lessons in leadership during more than 20 years of active duty in intelligence and logistics in the U.S. Navy.

As part of her military service, Mary taught more than 40,000 military and civilian personnel about economics, finance, leadership and management. This experience reinforced her belief in the importance of clear communication and strong leadership skills, especially in stressful situations.

Mary believes that productivity and employee engagement starts at the top.  This is why Mary now trains CEOs and business owners on how to create productive workplaces with enthusiastic employees. She says that it’s up to those at the top to set expectations and boost morale – and to encourage their people to perform better at their jobs. In addition to leading popular workshops and strategic retreats, Mary has written several books on the topic of leadership.

Mel Kleinman, Humetrics

Mel Kleiman is an international authority, writer, speaker, trainer, pragmatic business owner and consultant whose expertise is hourly, frontline employee recruiting, selection and retention best practices. He serves as president of Humetrics, founded in 1976, and is a member of several human resource-related boards and organizations. He is also a longstanding member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Speakers Association.

With over 25 years of research and consulting work to his credit, Mel is known for helping organizations improve their employee hiring processes by delivering high impact, high energy presentations that impart hands-on, practical information and advice attendees can put to immediate use.

Kleiman is also the author of five books, including the bestselling Hire Tough, Manage Easy – How to Find and Hire the Best Hourly Employees which was featured on CNN Headline News, and he has written hundreds of articles for numerous business and trade journals worldwide.

Jim WiesemeyerJim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer

From his office near Washington, D.C., Jim Wiesemeyer contributes daily to Pro Farmer’s website at, providing members with the latest information on agricultural policy and trade developments. He also is a twice-weekly participant in Farm Journal’s “AgriTalk” radio program, and serves as a Washington analyst for Pro Farmer and Farm Journal. Since 1978, Jim has frequently reported on and interviewed senior government officials, including former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, as well as USDA secretaries since Earl Butz.

Jim has traveled extensively in his assignments and is a frequent speaker on farm policy and trade issues. He rejoined Pro Farmer in June 2017, after serving as their Washington consultant for 19 years while at Informa Economics, and before that an employee of Pro Farmer. Jim is one of the writers for the Agriculture Letter. Prior to Pro Farmer, he was a Washington editor with Doane’s Agricultural Report and Washington editor and managing
editor of the Washington Farmletter.