2016 ESP National Conference Keynote Speakers

October 25, 2016 Opening Session - Matt Lohr

 Matt Lohr photo2

Matt Lohr – “A Lasting Legacy” – Matt will draw on the history of Cooperative Extension as he inspires the audience to continue to identify current issues and make an impact as we address them.

Matt Lohr loves living life to the fullest. Some of his many adventures include personally visiting with three U.S. Presidents, riding a bull, hiking the Grand Canyon, flying a plane, winning a new Dodge truck, teaching middle school, climbing Mt. Fuji and entertaining audiences in all 50 states and eight countries around the world. 

Matt developed a passion for speaking as a young FFA member and went on to serve as both state FFA president and national FFA vice president before graduating from Virginia Tech in 1995.  A fifth generation farmer, he continues to own a 250 acre beef, poultry, sweet corn and agritourism operation in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

In 2003, Matt was awarded the first ever American Farm Bureau “Excellence in Agriculture” award and went on to chair both his county planning commission and school board.  He then served for five years in the Virginia state legislature representing the 26th district before serving four years as Virginia’s 14th Commissioner of Agriculture.  After leaving political office in early 2014, he joined the Farm Credit family in his role as director of the Knowledge Center for Farm Credit of the Virginias.  Matt and his wife Beth stay “young” raising their six beautiful children.


October 26, 2016 General Session II - Adam Taliaferro  

Adam Taliaferro 

Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro, 3rd District; former Gloucester County Freeholder and Cooperative Extension liaison

Adam will draw on his knowledge of Cooperative Extension as well as his personal and professional experience to focus his presentation on “overcoming the odds” and continuing to meet the needs of the Extension clientele.

Adam Taliaferro was sworn in as a state legislator in 2015 and serves on the Education Committee and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  He has a variety of bills that focus on agriculture, from legislation that supports the wine industry to Jersey Fresh programs.

Adam holds a J.D. from Rutgers-Camden and serves as a patient advocate and lobbyist for Bristol Myers Squibb. He also holds a bachelor's degree from Penn State in Labor and Industrial Relations.

In 2001, Taliaferro formed the Adam Taliaferro Foundation which focuses on helping athletes who have suffered spinal cord injuries. "The foundation provides emotional, financial and educational support to individuals who suffer catastrophic head or spinal injuries in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware. The foundation also provides educational and financial support related to the research, prevention and care of such injuries."

Adam is also known for his time as a Penn State Football player. He was a stand-out freshman in 2000 when he was paralyzed during a game against Ohio State. Given a 3% chance of ever walking again by his doctors, he beat the odds and made a full recovery within six months of his injury.



October 27, 2016 Closing Session - Jennifer L. Smith 

Jennifer Smith


Jennifer L. Smith, Passionate Leader Institute & Growth Potential Consulting

Jennifer will utilize her expertise in leadership facilitating and coaching to deliver a motivational and inspirational Capstone Presentation titled “Turning the Tide with Passion and Excellence”.  She will incorporate and highlight the content shared throughout the conference as she motivates and inspires the conference participants to dream big, act locally, and make a difference!