Big Ideas Conference Returns to N.C. A&T, April 9: ‘From Farm to Table and Beyond’

Big Ideas Conference Returns to N.C. A&T, April 9: ‘From Farm to Table and Beyond’

GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 26, 2018) – The Big Ideas Conference is back for its third consecutive year at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, with this year’s focus the expanding possibilities of the agricultural economy.

Set for 8:30 a.m., Monday, April 9, in the Academic Classroom Building at N.C. A&T, the conference theme is “From Farm to Table and Beyond,” with presenters representing sustainable agriculture, hemp production, food deserts, genetically modified crops, farm finance, agricultural entrepreneurship and more. Included in the day will be guided tours of N.C. A&T’s 492-acre University Farm.

This year’s conference is a collaboration between the College of Business and Economics (COBE), the presenter of the conference for the past two years, and the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

“We’re delighted to mobilize strengths and connections from both our colleges in support of this theme,” said COBE Interim Dean Kevin L. James. “We expect a rich day of discussions as we bring together expertise across academic disciplines around big topics like food security, the local food movement and agribusiness.”

Julius Tillery, owner and founder of Black Cotton, Inc., who completed graduate coursework in agricultural economics at A&T, will deliver a keynote address. Tillery is a fifth-generation cotton farmer whose business focuses on selling cotton products from his farm and exploring cotton’s integral, historical connection to African Americans.

Tillery notes that for many generations, cotton was the south’s No. 1 crop, and while African American labor built that economic juggernaut, African Americans have yet to enjoy the profits that others have made from cotton’s success.

Other speakers for the Big Ideas conference include:

  • Patricia Miller Zollar, managing director of Neuberger Berman and a partner within Neuberger Berman Alternatives in New York. Zollar holds a bachelor’s degree from A&T and an MBA from the Harvard Business School and has been the driving force behind the Big Ideas Conference.
  • Krista Morgan of Lowes Foods. Morgan is the local accounts representative for Lowes, with a focus on strengthening the grocer’s relationship with existing and potential local vendors.
  • Kelley Woodley, a team leader and loan specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program. Woodley holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from A&T in agricultural education.
  • Ben Cabannis, commercial agricultural loan officer for Carolina Farm Credit.
  • Dr. Chyi-lyi (Kathleen) Liang, the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Professor in sustainable community-based food systems at A&T.
  • Dr. S. Janine Parker, director of NC AgrAbility.
  • Dr. Lyubov A. Kurkalova, professor of economics at A&T.

Conference attendance is free of charge, but attendees must register in advance.