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Aspire to Grow Student Conference

The one-day conference event is sponsored by Nutrien and gives high school and college students (and ag educators) a chance to hear from panel speakers in the agricultural industry and network in a professional setting.
1:00 PM – 1:30 PM: Guest Check-In
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Speakers Presentation & Q&A
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM: Social and Networking
Speakers include:
Ben Alfi (Founder/CEO, Blue White Robotics)
Background: Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs and entertainers, Alfi founded his autonomous technology company in 2017 and chose tractors because of their potential to be implemented immediately. The company's technology is installed on traditional tractors that are used in orchards and its array of sensors add autonomous features that can assist with dusting, weeding, fertilizing and many other areas. His prior experience working with all types of autonomous technology in his 25-year, Israeli Air Force career has given him a broad understanding of the technology and its future applications.
Samuel Fairbanks (Community Outreach Specialist, Fresno State WET Center)
Background: His passion for connecting people with the support they need to peruse their calling compliments the centers efforts to connect with water, energy and ag-tech entrepreneurs across the San Joaquin valley, no matter their experience in the field. Samuel is an alumnus of Fresno State, with a Masters in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership.

Issa Qandah (Technical Sales Manager, FMC Corporation)
Background: Issa has ten years of experience in applied science with a Ph.D. in plant pathology and physiology focused on crops (corn, soybean, canola, sugar beet, and wheat), modeling disease, plant stress, microbial and chemical seed treatments, discovery foliar fungicides, and germ plasm performance in USA. He supported its commercial team with technical information for corn and soybean germplasm and crop protection systems for product placement that optimized yield potential and performance predictability across Iowa and Minnesota. These relationships have laid the foundation for an array of communication skills, multitasking skills and appreciation for scientific and multi-task management.

Yvonne Sams (VP of Sales and Marketing, Flory Industries)
Background: Yvonne Sams has over 25 years in supply chain management, working in food manufacturing with companies like Frito Lay, Inc., E&J Gallo Winery and Tyson Foods. She also started up and ran food distribution warehouses including transportation with responsibility for the largest wine grape transportation business in the country. She is experienced in sales, business development, customer and supplier relations, maintenance, operations and full P&L responsibility for warehousing, transportation and distribution services managing over $140MM business. Currently she is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Flory Industries, a nut equipment manufacturer selling worldwide.

Annie Stuhr (Senior VP Agri-Business Market Manager, Central Valley Community Bank)
Background: Annie graduated from Fresno State with a Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture Business in 2004. During her college years she was a member of the Ag Business Club and toured many operations in the industry, and this is where she found her passion for the industry. She started her career at a small finance department through a cotton marketing and ginning company. She spent 10 years at Fresno Madera Farm Credit where she expanded her knowledge of ag lending. She is now the Agribusiness Market Manager for Central Valley Community Bank where she manages a $200 million portfolio of ag clients and a team of four. She has also served on the board of the Ag One Foundation that supports the Jordan College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology and provides scholarships to students.

Blong Xiong (State Executive Director, USDA California Farm Service Agency) 

Background: Blong Xiong was appointed by the Biden Administration to serve as the State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in California in January 2022. Xiong served as the Executive Director for the Asian Business Institute and Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides technical assistance to and advocacy for over 250 small/micro, underserved agricultural producers in the Central Valley and Northern California. Xiong served two terms as a Council Member for the City of Fresno, where he was the first elected Hmong Council Member in the state and the first Asian Council Member in the city of Fresno. Xiong also served as the Deputy Director for The Fresno Center, formerly known as the Fresno Center for New Americans. He served on several commissions and boards including the Asian Pacific Islander Commission, California Volunteer Commission, Insurance Diversity Board, and the Valley Small Business Development Corp. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Marian College of Fond du Lac and a master’s degree in business administration from National University.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Resnick Student Union View Directions to the Venue Directions WeatherView Venue Weather

5244 N Jackson Ave
Fresno, CA 93740