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Meet the speakers for the 2024 Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference and Irrigation EXPO

Updated: Jan 23

We are so excited to introduce some of our speakers for the 26th annual Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference and Irrigation EXPO!

Our conference was created by Arkansas State University professor of entomology and plant science Dr. Tina Gray Teague. More than 20 years later, her interest in conservation and cotton sustainability grew into the conference that we know today. 

You can learn more about our conference on and register here.

Note: This post will be updated with the latest speaker information.

Charolette Bowie

Charolette Bowie received her Bachelor of Science in Engineering with an emphasis in Civil Engineering from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. 

She began her career with the Soil Conservation Service which is now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service at the Lonoke FSC in Lonoke, Arkansas on December 28, 1993. 

She’s had multiple roles with the agency over the last 30 years and is currently overseeing the planning and on-farm teams for the Bayou Meto Water Management Project and the Grand Prairie Irrigation Project.


David Wildy

Wildy graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1975. Following graduation David returned to the farm and was made a partner in Widly Family Farms, a fifth-generation farm that was started by David’s grandfather in 1914. The operation includes David, sons, Justin and Tab and son-in-law, Paul Harris.

For more than 20 years, Wildy Family Farms has participated in on-farm research to be on the cutting edge of new practices that will increase production efficiency and sustainability of natural resources. Their farm hosts research conducted by the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, USDA-ARS, and private industry. Current on-farm studies are focused on identifying ways to improve the use of precision agriculture, refine crop fertilizer recommendations, and increase irrigation water use efficiency. The farm also encouraged graduate student research projects by providing field areas for studies and office space for data analysis.

David has supported his community by serving on the board and as president of the Mississippi County Farm Bureau. He has been on the committee of the USDA-Farm Service Agency in Mississippi County. He currently serves on the boards of Mississippi County Electric Cooperative, Buffalo Island Regional Water District and is a member of the Buffalo Island Central FFA Alumni Committee.

David and his wife, Patty have four adult children, sons Justin and Tab and daughters Hayley and Bethany.


Justin Chlapecka

Justin Chlapecka was raised in Northeast Arkansas and completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at Arkansas State. His doctoral research at the University of Arkansas focused on irrigation and nutrient management of furrow-irrigated rice, more specifically nitrogen management.

His current research program focuses on general agronomic practices relevant to rice production in the Mid-South, including cultivar testing, nutrient management strategies, pest management, and cultural management such as planting date and crop rotation. Missouri rice is grown mainly under two contrasting production systems: flood-irrigated (conventional flood) and furrow-irrigated (row rice). Thus, his research program focuses on both systems, but with an emphasis on furrow-irrigated rice production due to it being a relatively new interest to most producers.

Justin is working toward decreasing the yield lag associated with transitioning to furrow-irrigated rice on certain soil types through a variety of factors, including pest management and fertility programs, which need to be managed differently when rice is not flooded.

Much of his work is in cooperation with neighboring rice-producing states, such as Arkansas, as well as other MU researchers. He also serves as the State Rice Extension Specialist, where he gathers inspiration to implement relevant and practical research trials with the end goal of increasing rice producer profitability and sustainability in the Missouri Delta.


Janet Harris

Janet Harris is an experienced leader, facilitator, and public speaker. Driven by curiosity and determination, she takes pride in facilitating thoughtful conversations that result in collaborative action and impact.

As Executive Director and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, her goals include preserving Winthrop Rockefeller’s legacy and historic campus on Petit Jean Mountain, enabling others to find collaborative solutions for important issues facing Arkansas, and being a supportive coach and mentor for her staff. Janet’s career in public service spans nearly 30 years.

She earned an MPA from the University of Arkansas Little Rock, graduated from Leadership Arkansas Class XI, and is currently pursuing a certificate in nonprofit leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was recently named among the Top 100 Women of Impact by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, the Arkansas Business Publishing Group’s Top 250 business leaders in Arkansas, and Arkansas Money and Politics 2023 Power Women list.

Janet grew up in Marmaduke, Arkansas, and currently lives in Conway with her husband, daughter, and three dogs.


Dr. Drew Gholson

Dr. Drew Gholson is an Assistant Professor and Irrigation Specialist and serves as Coordinator for the National Center for Alluvial Aquifer Research with Mississippi State University located at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, MS.

His research and outreach include conceiving, developing, and promoting the adoption of profitable irrigation management strategies that conserve water, maintain soil resources, and improve water quality.

Gholson's focus is to produce and communicate research directed at the conservation and sustainability of water resources for agriculture.  


Dr. Edward (Ed) M. Barnes

Dr. Edward Barnes is Senior Director of Agricultural and Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated, where for the last 21 years, he has managed agricultural engineering related projects, including programs on: precision farming, ginning, irrigation management, conservation tillage, and cotton harvest systems.

He has also served as a team member in documenting cotton’s progress in reducing its environmental footprint while at the same time increasing productivity and currently serves on the Science Advisory Council of Field to Market, The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. 

Most recently he has been leading efforts to increase the automation of cotton production systems.

Prior to Cotton Incorporated, Dr. Barnes spent seven years conducting research on crop water management with remotely sensed data for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona.

He is a Fellow of the American Society of Biological and Agricultural Engineers (ASABE) and currently serves on their Board of Trustees. 

He received his BS and MS in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from NC State University and PhD in Biosystems Engineering from Oklahoma State University. 


Wes Ward

Wes Ward is serving as the third Secretary of Agriculture for the State of Arkansas. He was first appointed to the position in 2015 by Governor Asa Hutchinson and reappointed in 2023 by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Wes is from the small town of Lake City in Northeast Arkansas and is a graduate of Riverside High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business with an emphasis in Agricultural Finance from Arkansas State University. Wes has also earned a law degree (JD), a Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) in Agricultural and Food Law, and a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Arkansas.

He has been serving in the United States Marine Corps for over 23 years and has completed deployments and exercises in Afghanistan, Jordan, and Japan. He is currently serving in the Marine Corps Reserves as a Detachment Commander with the 1st Civil Affairs Group in Camp Pendleton, California.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture includes the Forestry Division, Livestock and Poultry Division, Natural Resources Division, and Plant Industries Division. The department is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture, forestry, and natural resources to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while conserving natural resources and ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation.


Dr. Angelia Seyfferth 

Dr. Angelia Seyfferth is a professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, one of the founding Directors of the Center for Food Systems and Sustainability (CENFOODS), and the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Delaware. 

Angelia earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Science and Chemistry at Towson University, her Ph.D. in Soil and Water Sciences at the University of California-Riverside, and was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Environmental Earth System Sciences at Stanford University prior to starting her faculty position.

Her research focuses mainly on using tools and concepts rooted in soil biogeochemistry to develop sustainable ways to lower human exposure to harmful contaminants from food. She uses both laboratory and field experiments as well as conventional and advanced spectroscopic techniques to illuminate the dynamic chemistry of the rhizosphere and to understand localization of contaminants and nutrients in soils and plants. Her research also includes understanding mineral control on below-ground carbon cycling in coastal environments that are prone to sea level rise and storm surges.

She has won several awards, including the 2022 Jackson Award in Soil Chemistry and Mineralogy given by the Soil Science Society of America and the 2022 Charles S. Falkenberg Union Award co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union and the Earth Science Information Partners.  


Michael Klamm

Michael Klamm is the Deputy Regional Director in the Delta Region serving Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi with the National Agriculture Statistics Service. He has served in this role for the past six years. 


Before taking on this role, Mike served as the National Cattle Statistician for two and a half years and another year and a half in Washington D.C. as the turkey and poultry slaughter statistician. Before being assigned to headquarters, Mike worked in the St. Louis, Missouri Regional Field Office. Prior to being assigned to the Regional Field Office, he worked in the Columbia, Missouri and Denver, Colorado NASS Field Offices. 


Mike proudly completed his education at Colorado State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business and a minor in Economics. 


Mike, his wife of 13 years (Kacee), 6-year old son (Axl), and 19 month old son (Levi) currently live on a small cattle farm in Grant County, Arkansas. 


Dr. Scott W. Manley

Dr. Scott W. Manley is the Ducks Unlimited Director of Agriculture Support with 30 years of experience in wetlands and water conservation with focus on agricultural systems.

He serves in a leadership role in the USA Rice - Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership and was recognized by the U.S. Congress in 2023.

He is a native Texan who earned graduate degrees at Mississippi State University.


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