The Future Seed Executives Committee (FuSE) is a subcommittee of the American Seed Trade Association’s (ASTA) Leadership, Education and Development Committee (LEAD, formerly the Management Skills Committee). Since its formal inception in 2004, FuSE has focused on educating and supporting seed industry professionals with fewer than seven years of seed industry experience. In 2018, ASTA established the student membership level, transitioning FuSE to focus on recruitment, outreach, and content for ASTA student members. The FuSE committee includes organizing all of ASTA’s educational opportunities for undergraduate to PhD students, (previously ASRF Operation Student Connection and NCCPB Graduate Student awards) as well as work with a student committee and developing targeted meeting and written material.

Download the FuSE One-Pager - ASTA Future Seed Executives

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What We Do

FuSE is comprised of five sub-committees that work in collaboration to support its mission. These sub-committees assist in the planning and execution of annual programming and activities.

The Communications Committee focuses on providing consistent and clear messages to multiple audiences connected to FuSE. Whether through print materials distributed on college campuses, social media or presentations given to our industry supporters, the Communications Committee actively supports each component of FuSE.

The Membership Committee will work with ASTA membership engagement in driving recruitment and retention of student members. This committee will also serve as a liaison between FuSE/ASTA and the National FFA, as well as provide outreach to AFA.

The Education Committee provides learning opportunities, promotes industry networking and improves the membership’s general understanding of the seed industry through: student webinars, online content, newsletters focused on the challenges and issues relating to those entering the workforce, and meeting programming.

ASTA Event Programming
The ASTA Event Programming Committee is responsible for managing the ASTA education and awards programs from undergraduates to PhD students. Programs will provide opportunities for students to attend and mingle with industry professionals.

Student Committee
The Student Committee will be comprised of and managed by student members and will serve to provide content and thoughts that support FuSE initiatives.

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What We Achieve

FuSE seeks to develop the next generation of seed industry leaders that is prepared to meet the challenges and demands of an increasingly dynamic and global industry. Our goal is to provide educational and training resources; networking opportunities and mentors; and a true sense of belonging to our student members.

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How To Get Involved

Interested individuals can request information about upcoming events and involvement by emailing info@betterseed.org.


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The FuSE Organizing Committee is made up of FuSE members who take an active role in the planning and activities of FuSE.

Randy Knutson






Randy Knutson is a Version Test Scientist for Syngenta, based in Slater, Iowa. He plays a critical role on the parent characterization team, evaluating inbred parents with varying trait packages and assessing producibility to help inform the data-driven decision of product advancement. Randy joined Syngenta in 2013 after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors of Environmental Design. He’s also wrapping up an M.S. Agronomy degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He’s currently the Vice Chair of FuSE, after joining FuSE as a member of the education committee in 2016, then co-chair for that committee 2017 – a great time to be a part of FuSE as the focus shifts to student membership. Randy enjoys spending his spare time outdoors, cheering on the Golden Gophers with his wife, Liz, and chasing their black lab, Scout.

Vice Chair
Luke Knight

Luke Knight is a Territory Manager for Corteva Agriscience in Jackson, Tennessee. In his role, he supports retailers with positioning, training and support of the Corteva crop protection portfolio. Luke joined Dow Agrosciences in June 2017 as a sales trainee. In December 2017, Luke began his current role with Corteva Agriscience. Luke graduated from Auburn University in May 2017 with a bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural communications. Luke’s first ASTA experience was in 2016 as a Campus Connections student. Luke has been involved with FuSE since fall 2017 serving as a member of the Campus Connections subcommittee, and now as chair of the Event Planning Committee. Luke enjoys quality time with friends and family, spending time with his dog, Walker, and cooking.

Event Planning Committee Vice Chair
Kilah Watson

Kilah Watson, Marketing Coordinator for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds is starting her fourth year on the Latham Marketing Team. Kilah graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Agricultural Business and Public Relations. She enjoys being involved in agriculture and working with Latham Dealers and farmers throughout the Midwest. Her collaborative attitude and creativity are applied as she coordinates dealer events and expands Latham’s online presence. In addition to the work at Latham, Kilah raises corn and soybeans with her husband, Joel Watson, in North Iowa. She also enjoys serving on the Cerro Gordo County Farm Bureau Board and volunteering her time and talents at the local church.

Membership Committee Chair
Marshall Dolch

Marshall Dolch is a Southwest Iowa farm kid who grew up loving corn, soybeans, and Angus beef cattle. He is currently a District Marketing Lead for Syngenta Crop Protection supporting the company’s West Heartland Commercial Unit, based in West Des Moines, Iowa. Previously, Marshall worked as a Syngenta Crop protection Sales Representative in South Central Nebraska. While at Iowa State University, he completed two internships with Syngenta, one supporting the Golden Harvest seeds business and the other with Syngenta’s NK and Crop Protection portfolio. These experiences are ultimately what led to Marshall beginning his professional career in agriculture and with Syngenta. Marshall first started with FuSE in 2018 as a Campus Connections committee member and is excited to help co-chair the new Membership Committee this year.

Membership Committee Vice Chair
Abbey Weninger

Abbey Weninger is an Associate Territory Manager for Corteva Agriscience. In her role, she is building on her Pioneer and industry experience, by fine-tuning her sales and agronomy skills, to become a Territory Manager. She joined Pioneer in May 2017 as a Sales and Marketing intern in Minnesota and Wisconsin. She then came back the following summer as a Marketing Intern. Abbey graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education. Abbey’s first ASTA experience was in 2018 as a FuSE Campus Connections student. Abbey continues to volunteer with FFA chapters and is involved with AFA, along with Minnesota Farm Bureau. She enjoys traveling, being on the lake, staying active, along with spending time with family and friends. Abbey is excited to connect with students and looks forward to advocating and recruiting student members!

Student Education Committee Chair
Andrew Lauver

Andrew Lauver serves as Manager, Industry Relations at Syngenta. Andrew has experience in seed and precision agricultural services in Iowa, Wisconsin and Western Canada. He has interned with Senator Grassley, the Iowa House of Representatives, as well as the American Seed Trade Association. Presently, Lauver serves as an appointed member of the National Cotton Council Cotton Foundation Board of Trustees, United States Grains Council Innovation Action Team, First-the Seed Foundation, and is the Education Committee chair of the Future Seed Executives (FuSE). Andrew if from a fifth generation family farm and received his B.S. from Iowa State University in Agricultural Studies and holds a Master of Agribusiness from Kansas State University. Andrew has been active in AGR, FFA and 4-H and is currently working on a Master of Jurisprudence in Agriculture and Sustainability from the Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. He has international farm and animal agricultural study experience in Europe, Asia, and South America and has been named a Future Giant of the Seed Industry by Seed World Magazine. Andrew contributes directly to Syngenta’s grower and stakeholder engagement.

Student Education Committee Vice Chair
Kellen Suntken

Kellen is a Plant Operations Lead at a seed corn production facility for Syngenta in Lone Tree, IA. He joined Syngenta in 2016 upon graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in Agricultural Studies and a minor in Agronomy. Prior to his current role, Kellen completed internships with Syngenta and Latham Hi-Tech Seeds as well as the Production and Supply Development Program within Syngenta. Kellen was introduced to FuSE through the campus connections program in 2015, and currently serves on the education committee.

Communications Committee Chair
Brandon Rose

Brandon rose is an Account Manager with Gro Alliance in Howe, Indiana. He earned his degree in Agribusiness Management and Marketing from Purdue University in 2014. Prior to joining Gro Alliance in 2017, Brandon worked in Sales and Marketing with Agrium in Colorado and as an intern with DuPont Pioneer in Michigan. Brandon sits on the Communication Committee for ASTA’s Future Seed Executive Initiative. Brandon lives in Shipshewana, Indiana with his wife Julie and their dog Hank. Outside of work, he’s typically outdoors camping, biking, or taking weekend road trips.

Communications Committee Vice Chair
Kristyne Thull

Kristyne is the Marketing Specialist for Farm Nutrients in in Rembrandt, Iowa. Raised on a farm in rural South Dakota, she has a strong understanding of and passion for the ag industry. She is a Southeast Technical Institute graduate with Associates degrees in Marketing and Media Design Technology. Following graduation she began her career in the seed industry as the Marketing Coordinator for Legend Seeds before relocating to Spencer, Iowa in 2018 for her current role with Farm Nutrients. At Farm Nutrients, Kristyne focuses on managing the company brand, designing sales materials, and supporting the company’s sales staff. In her spare time, she can be found traveling, helping on the family farm, or running her part-time photography business, KT Photography & Design.

Student Committee
Wyatt Jones

Wyatt is a current senior at The Ohio State University, where he will graduate in May 2019 with a degree in Agriscience Education. Wyatt’s interests lie within working with growers to aide them in implementing the newest technologies to their farming operations. Additionally, he has a great interest in educating the public about agricultural pursuits and shedding a positive light to the agricultural industry. Wyatt was inspired to pursue a career in the seed industry after learning that agricultural education stretches far beyond a classroom setting. He desires to educate current members of the industry and consumers who are removed from the industry to create a more desirable working and producing environment for the years to come.


We have more ideas than time to implement them and we are actively seeking motivated individuals to assist us in supporting FuSE! To receive more information on FuSE, please email the committee at info@betterseed.org.

Who can be a member?

FuSE is a professional group supporting the recruitment, outreach, and content for ASTA student members. All interested ASTA members are welcome to participate. If you are interested, please email fuse@betterseed.org.

What are the benefits of being a member?

FuSE provides learning, networking, and professional development opportunities to students looking to enter the seed industry.

  • Attend online and in-person educational and training events for reduced costs vs. non-ASTA members
  • Enhance professional growth & development
  • Participate in industry-specific networking opportunities
  • Gain valuable leadership skills

How do I become a member and connect with FuSE?


Future Events

November 20, 2019
Seed Industry Careers Teleconference with Mark Herrmann (RSVP to Ellen Zimmerman for call-in details)

Past Events

August 2019
Industry Immersion in Des Moines, IA

June 2019
Seed Industry Career Paths (registration to ASTA’s PLDC required to attend)
“How to Network” (registration to ASTA’s PLDC required to attend)
Grow Your Network Happy Hour (registration to ASTA’s PLDC required to attend)

May 2019
Gene Editing Webinar

Sep 19, 2016 – Sep 20, 2016
FuSE Educational Unit

Nov 18, 2015 – Nov 19, 2015
FuSE Educational Unit Registration: Blazing Trails

Monday, January 26, 2015
ASTA’s Vegetable and Flower Seed Conference

Keynote speaker Dr. David Clark from the University of Florida shared his insight on how to be successful and hot topics in the seed industry. To listen to his remarks, click here.

December 8-12, 2014
CSS 2014 & Seed Expo

FuSE hosted Keynote Speaker Bill Whitacre for a one-on-one conversation and networking. The FuSE Meeting focused on agriculture industry drivers and implications with a presentation by Mike Gunderson, Purdue University followed by a networking reception. Finally, an educational unit was held at the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

2013-14 FuSE Initiative At-A-Glance

The FuSE Organizing Committee conducted its 2nd Fly-In strategy session in March 2014. This “meeting of the minds” has proven well worth the effort to regroup and re-fresh ideas with a 2014-15 focus on membership development and education.

You can view the structure of each committee here: fuse

Campus Connections

FuSE provided grants to five students from a broad range of studies and backgrounds to attend the 131st ASTA Annual Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. These future sales reps, plant breeders, business managers and agronomists were paired with a mentor and networked with seed industry leaders. One student said of his experience, “I have been blown away with the whole conference in general. The scope of how far the seed industry goes and the depth of what ASTA does have been eye-opening.”

You can read more about Campus Connections here: campus connections


2013-2014 was a great year for educational events! Highlights included:

  • August 2013 – Social media webinar led by Laura Cunningham of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. The event concluded a three-part series on social media held in conjunction with the Independent Professional Seed Association.
  • October 2013 – Educational Unit hosted by Cotton Incorporated and Syngenta in Raleigh, N.C. The event focused on the cotton value chain, southern crops, and Syngenta’s crop research.
  • December 2013 – Meeting and reception at ASTA’s CSS & Seed Expo in Chicago, Ill.. The meeting featured a panel discussion on ‘Navigating the Road to Seed Industry Success’ and included ASTA’s 2013-2014 Chairman & AgReliant Genetics CEO Craig Newman.
  • January 2014 – Meeting and reception at ASTA’s Vegetable & Flower Seed Conference in Monterey, Calif.. John Schoenecker, HM. CLAUSE Director of Intellectual Property and James Weatherly of Cochran Freund and Young LLC discussed ‘Current IP Topics in the Vegetable & Flower Industry.’
  • January 2014 – Held a break-out session focused on ‘Reaching Tech-Savvy Growers’ at the Independent Professional Seed Association’s annual conference in St. Louis, Mo.
  • June 2014 – FuSE hosted an educational session and 10th birthday celebration at the NCAA Hall of Champions during ASTA’s 131st Annual Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.. The event featured Doug Austrom of Turning Point Associates on ‘The Power of Inclusive Leadership.’ At the celebration, FuSE presented Founders Awards to its 4 founders: Jim Schweigert, TJ Lawhon, David Nothmann, and Alexis Ellicott. Also, Seed World announced Chris Boomsma of Dow AgroSciences as the 2014 Future Giants of the Seed Industry Award winner and Leah Ruff, Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Nebraska, was the ASRF the Roger Krueger Memorial Scholarship recipient.

You can view upcoming events and one of the webinars here: events

A Big Thank You!

To our 2013-14 sponsors, we thank you so much for the generous donations and support you provided. Your giving allowed for continued educational opportunities for our newest seed industry professionals and college students.

Learn how you can help support FuSE for 2014-15: support

Connecting Collegiate Students & the Seed Industry

Student Connections provides a unique opportunity for collegiate students working towards a career in the seed industry. Student Connections provides students the ability to network, engage, and promote the seed industry at ASTA’s Policy & Leadership Development Conference (PLDC). Interact with seed industry professionals and senior executives to investigate various aspects of the seed business. Future Seed Executives (FuSE), via the Student Connections program, will award students a grant to attend PLDC.

PLDC is attended by approximately 300 seed industry profressionals representing small, medium and large companies focused on different seed industry segments: large row crops (corn, soybeans, cotton, and sorghum), flower, vegetable and grass seed. PLDC covers a range of topics including biotechnology, sustainability, organics, breeding advancements, ag policy and international trade. In addition to exposing participants to these diverse topics, the Student Connections program will also includ networking opportunities and one-on-one mentoring by seed industry executives.

Student Connections Video

Who is able to participate in Student Connections and how do they apply?

Students in an undergraduate or graduate degree program with an interest in joining the seed industry upon the completion of their studies are encouraged to apply.

Apply for Student Connections!

What is covered by the program?

Significant financial support to attend the conference is included for students accepted to the Student Connections program. It includes:

  • Air Fare – Up to $580.00 round-trip (participants will book their own travel arrangements).
  • Hotel – Participants will be paired with other students in the program and FuSE will make the reservations.
  • Convention Registration
  • Local Airport/Hotel Transportation cost – Students are expected to pay for their transportation costs to and from the airport and host hotel upfront, but will be reimbursed for any receipts submitted.

For more information, contact info@betterseed.org.

FuSE focuses on recruitment, outreach and content for ASTA student members. There are many ways to support FuSE’s events and programs either financially or by sharing expertise or other non-monetary assistance.

There are year-round sponsorship opportunities of FuSE available in ASTA’s 2018-2019 Sponsorship Prospectus.

If you’re interested in supporting FuSE at one of ASTA’s events specifically, there are a number of available opportunities.

There are still a few sponsorship opportunities available for supporting FuSE programs at ASTA’s 2019 Policy & Leadership Development Conference (PLDC).

  • Student Sponsorshop ($750.00/student)
    • A student sponsorshop supports a student’s transportation and room and board. In addition to financial support, the sponsor company can mentor the student and provide company branded swag to be distributed to all students. Mentors get to participate in student activities.
  • Student Swag ($1,000 total – can have multiple sponsors)
  • General Support – Any amount (sponsor will be recognized in student material)

Thank you to those companies who have sponsored FuSE programming during PLDC!

  • Seed Science Foundation
  • Husker Genetics
  • RiceTec
  • Beck’s Superior Hybrids

To learn about the opportunities available for ASTA’s Policy & Leadership Development Conference, click here.

To sign up as a FuSE sponsor or for more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ann Jorss by email at ajorss@betterseed.org or by phone at 703-837-8140.

Click here for accessible version of the following YouTube video.

Here’s what folks are saying about FuSE …

Educational Units

“The Educational Unit was a good experience to not only interact and meet other young people in this industry but to also motivate me to think about various issues relating to the seed industry.” – Ben Orebaugh, Beck’s Superior Hybrids

“I highly recommend the program for young people looking to move up in their organizations”
Scott Brolsma, AgReliant Genetics 

“This session was a great opportunity to learn about a completely different business model (and a company) that thinks outside the box.”
Jim Wolf, iCorn

“The case study was very relevant to our industry.  Very thought provoking and stimulated my creaking thinking related to seed strategy.”
Dan Mondt, Monsanto

“Great opportunity to meet, interact, and share ideas with other industry professionals.”
Ryan Parkin, Beck’s Superior Hybrids

“It was great to be in the same room with so many exceptional people.  I wish there had been this type of program when I was starting out in the industry.”
Lou Schweigert, Gro Alliance

“I had the opportunity recently to attend the ASTA FuSE Educational Unit in California hosted by Incotec and Enza Zaden. Oliver Manufacturing has always been a financial supporter of the FuSE organization, and I have to say that after attending this last Ed Unit, we are excited to continue our support. I found the content of the presentations and timeliness of the program as a whole to be very valuable. Not to mention that there are great networking opportunities for those new to the industry. I’ve attended maybe a half dozen or so of these programs and I always come away knowing it was time well spent. Please pass many Thanks on to the host companies and the FuSE committee for their efforts.”
Jon Moreland, Oliver Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Round Table Discussion Groups

“The call was excellent and the topic was very relevant.  Hearing other perspectives on challenges our company faces was refreshing.” – Tim Bratland, Legend Seeds

“The insights of the different participants brought to light several facts which hadn’t occurred to me before.”
Don Wertman, Seedway

“I found the Discussion Group more beneficial than I originally anticipated. The discussion helps to formulate ideas that you think about but don’t always articulate. Stating them and hearing others state them helps to bring about a better sense of what is happening and what the future will look like.”
Scott Beck, Beck’s Superior Hybrids