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 brochure - 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 ezimmerman@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.

Bethany Drendel

Joined the seed industry: 2014

Bethany Drendel is an Account Manager for DuPont Pioneer in central Iowa. In her role, she gives business, sales and agronomy support and leadership to her sales team. She joined Pioneer in June of 2014 as a Production Agronomist in Hedrick, Iowa in the organization’s Emerging Leader Program. She then relocated to Bloomington, Illinois where she worked with the Pioneer sales team for nine months before relocating back to central Iowa in November of 2015 to serve in her current role. Bethany graduated from Iowa State University in May of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and International Agriculture with a minor in Agronomy. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Agronomy through Iowa State. Bethany’s first ASTA experience was in 2013 as a FuSE Campus Connections student. As a young professional in the industry, she’s served the last 3 years with FuSE Leadership and Campus Connections and is excited to serve as FuSE Chair for 2017-2018. Bethany grew up on a diversified grain and livestock farm in central Iowa. She enjoys running, traveling, following Iowa State athletics and spending time with her husband, David, and their family and friends.

FuSE Vice Chair
Ashley Harlow

Joined the seed industry: 2012

Ashley Harlow is the Business Development Manager for AgReliant Genetics, LLC in Westfield, IN.  In this role, she is responsible for identifying and analyzing new and existing business opportunities, partnerships and markets as well as new product or service offerings to maximize AgReliant Genetics’ business.  She joined the AgReliant team in November of 2015 as the Soybean Supply Chain Analyst where she managed both third party and internal production to assure production runs and the overall geographical footprint was being optimized.  Prior to AgReliant she gains experience in both in the Seed and Grain Industry, being involved in Hedging and Supply Chain. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University.  She is currently serving as the FuSE Vice Chair and has been involved with the FuSE program since 2016.  Ashley’s interest in the Ag Industry started at a young age, as she finds herself fortunate to have grown up on a  family farm in Central Indiana.  After spending time in St. Louis she returned to Central Indiana  where she and her husband Aaron intend to continue both his and her family farm legacies. They are currently starting up their own portion of the farm including both row crop and Shorthorn Cattle.  Together they have two children a boy, Ashton and a girl, Avery.  She is a member of the Rock Prairie Church and a participant within her County’s Young Farmers Group.  Ashley enjoys watching her nieces and nephews grow up with her two children while passing on the family traditions.

Communications Committee Chair
Chelsie Kilmer
Joined the seed industry: 2011

Chelsie is a Sales Representative for Ag Printers in Lafayette, IN. She graduated from Purdue University in 2004 with a B.S. in Animal Science and joined the Ag Printers team in 2011. At Ag Printers, Chelsie has the opportunity to work with seed companies across the United States, providing them with marketing and labeling solutions. Chelsie currently serves as the Chair of the Communications Committee for FuSE and has been a member since 2014. Outside of the office, she is involved with her families hog farm and serves on several committees at the Monticello United Methodist Church. Chelsie, her husband, two sons and twin girls enjoy attending livestock events and cheering on the Boilers!

FuSE Communications Committee
Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson

Joined the seed industry: 2012

Sarah works as a Breeding Projects Coordinator for Beck’s Hybrids on the island of Kauai, HI. She grew up in Marion, Indiana and attended Purdue University for a B.S. in Biology and M.S. in Entomology. Following graduation in 2012, Sarah moved to Hawaii for the role of Production Research/IPM Specialist with Dow AgroSciences. In 2015, she started her own consulting business serving Hawaii farmers, community organizations, and local politicians. In late 2016, Sarah began working at Beck’s Hybrids as a Breeding Projects Coordinator in addition to agronomic responsibilities involving Integrated Pest Management (IPM). In her spare time, Sarah enjoys volunteering with the Hawaii Alliance for Science and the Hawaii State Science Olympiad when she’s not at the beach with her three dogs.

FuSE Communications Committee
Joni Erwin

Joined the seed industry: May 2017

Joni works as a Marketing Coordinator for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds in Alexander, IA. She graduated from Iowa State University in May of 2017 with a degree in Agricultural Business and International Agriculture. At Latham, she strives to help their dealers succeed and spread the Latham story across the Midwest. This is Joni’s first opportunity to be involved with Fuse and she is excited to contribute to the organization. Her passion for agriculture developed on her family’s farm in Southeast Iowa where they raise row crops and have a cow-calf herd. Outside of work you may find Joni riding her bike across Iowa, attending Cyclone sporting events, playing a round of golf, or traveling!

FuSE Communications Committee
Megan Arnold
Megan Arnold

Joined the seed industry: 2017

Megan Arnold is the Corporate Communications Manager for AgReliant Genetics, LLC in Westfield, Ind. In her role, Megan is responsible for internal and external communications, brand awareness and company image. Megan has almost 10 years of experience working in some facet of the agriculture industry. Since graduating from Vincennes University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and prior to joining the AgReliant Genetics team, Megan worked in the advertising world on everything from international crop protection brands public relations campaigns to new product launches to local checkoff associations’ communications. Megan grew up on her family’s grain farm in central Indiana and is looking forward to her involvement as one of the newest members of FuSE. Outside of work, Megan is involved in the Marion County Young Ag Professionals group, National Agri-Marketing Association and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Committee. She enjoys anything outdoors, good books, finding new things to do around Indianapolis, good beer and playing fetch (it’s never-ending…) with her pup, Miles.

FuSE Communications Committee
Kristyne Thull

Kristyne Thull

Joined the seed industry: 2014

Kristyne is the Marketing Coordinator for Legend Seeds in De Smet, SD. 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 Associate degrees in both Marketing and Media Design Technology. Following graduation, she began her career in the seed industry with Legend Seeds. At Legend, Kristyne’s role includes managing the company brand, designing sales materials, and supporting the company’s dealer network. In her spare time, she can be found traveling, helping on the family farm, or running her part-time photography business, KT Photography & Design.

Connections Committee Co-Chair
Josh Earll
Joined the seed industry: 2016

Josh started as a District Sales Manager for Monsanto’s Asgrow/DEKALB Brands in 2016 in North Central Iowa.  In May of 2016, Josh graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications.  Josh interned twice with Monsanto; one summer in the Sales Organization and one summer in Government Affairs.  Josh first started with FuSE in 2016 as a Connections committee member, and recently took on the role of Connections co-chair.  Growing up on a farm in Northwest Iowa, Josh has always had a love for agriculture.  Josh enjoys being on the farm, cheering on the Iowa State Cyclones, and being with family.

Connections Committee Co-Chair
Liz Knutson
Joined the seed industry: 2014

Liz Knutson is an Account Manager for DuPont Pioneer in southeastern Minnesota. She earned her degree in Agricultural Education at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and joined the seed industry as a part of Pioneer’s Emerging Leader Program immediately following graduation. She has been involved with FuSE since her own Campus Connections experience in 2013, and has co-chaired the committee for the past 2 years. Liz grew up on a crop farm in southwestern Minnesota, where she spent a great deal of time working with the family agribusiness. Liz is an avid volunteer with the National FFA Organization and enjoys cheering on the Golden Gophers with her husband, Randy, at any opportunity.

Education Committee Co-Chair
Jeff Skemp
Joined the seed industry: 2009

Jeff started with Gro Alliance in 2012 as a warehouse and packaging area lead.  In 2013, Jeff was promoted to Account Manager, becoming the day-to-day contact for clients regarding their seed production, conditioning, and warehousing. Jeff currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Education Committee for ASTA’s Future Seed Executive Initiative(FuSE), and has been a member of FuSE since March of 2014.  He also serves on the Education Committee for the Independent Professional Seed Association.  Prior to joining Gro Alliance, Jeff was in sales for Lands’ End.  He holds a Business Administration Management degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and recently finished his Masters in Project Management. Jeff lives in Platteville, Wisconsin with his wife Meghan.  They have two sons, Byron and Harrison.   Aside from family and work, Jeff also spends time as the Vice President of the Cuba City Youth Basketball Organization.

Education Committee Co-Chair
Randy Knutson

Joined the seed industry: 2013

Randy is a Science Education and Training Specialist in the Breeding Academy at Syngenta. He earned a degree in Environmental Design at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and is currently seeking a Master’s in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Randy grew up in suburban southeastern Wisconsin but developed a passion for agriculture while a member of FarmHouse Fraternity. Randy enjoys spending his spare time outdoors, cheering on the Golden Gophers with his wife, Liz, and chasing their black lab, Scout.

Education Committee
Brandon Rose

Joined the industry: 2011

Brandon 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 Education Committee for ASTA’s Future Seed Executive Initiative. Brandon lives in Shipshewana, Indiana with his wife Julie, and when he’s not working he enjoys spending time with his large family, attending concerts, hiking, and biking.


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 fuse@amseed.org.

Who can be a member?

FuSE is a professional group supporting those with seven years or less experience in the seed industry. Membership in FuSE is available to those who meet the criteria and complete the membership form.

What are the benefits of being a member?

FuSE provides learning, networking, and professional development opportunities to professionals with seven years or less experience in 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?


Complete the online membership form below:

No Fields Found.
By filling out this form, you will receive occasional communication from FuSE about upcoming events and opportunities.

Future Events


Past Events

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 Undergraduate Students & the Seed Industry

Campus Connections provides a unique opportunity for juniors working towards a career in the seed industry to interact with seed industry professionals and senior executives to investigate various aspects of the seed business. FuSE (Future Seed Executives), via the Campus Connections program, will award students a grant to attend ASTA’s annual convention.

The annual convention is attended by approximately 300 seed industry professionals 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. The annual convention 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 Campus Connections program will also include networking opportunities and one-on-one mentoring by seed industry executives.

2016 Campus Connection Students

2014 Campus Connections Video

Read what past students have said about Campus Connections

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

Applicants for the Campus Connections program must be juniors (one year of undergraduate studies remaining) working towards a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy, Plant Sciences/Genetics, Ag-Business/Economics, Biological Engineering, Horticulture, Floriculture or other seed-related area of study at an accredited higher education institution in the United States.

Apply for Campus Connections!

What is covered by the program?

Significant financial support to attend the convention is included for students accepted to the Campus 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 fuse@betterseed.org

FuSE focuses on educating and supporting future seed industry executives — namely those with fewer than seven years of seed industry experience. There are many ways to support FuSE’s events and programs either financially or by sharing expertise or other non-monetary assistance.

Download the FuSE Sponsorship Kit

To sign up as a FuSE sponsor or for more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact ASTA at 703-837-8140.

Click here for accessible version of the following YouTube video.

Thank You 2014-2015 FuSE Supporters!

HM Clause Husker Genetics - University of Nebraska - Lincoln Gro Alliance Bratney Companies

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


Click here for accessible version of the following YouTube video. Click here for accessible version of the following YouTube video.