Speakers

Friday Night Opening Assembly
MATT RUSHMatt Rush
From the time Matt was in the 8
th grade he knew his life’s ambition was to help others become more than they ever thought possible.  Since then, his speeches, seminars and coaching have inspired thousands of people.

The Zig Ziglar Corporation recently recognized his talent and skill as a speaker and trainer inviting him to become one of their first ever Platinum Level speakers.

He has won state and national awards for his public speaking, Co-Authored several books on leadership and is authoring the upcoming book, The Power of an Inch.

Rush is passionate about his values, helping others and is dedicated to the development of a strong, successful future for our current and upcoming generation.

Matt Rush is the 4th generation in his family to be a New Mexico farmer and cattle rancher.  He graduated valedictorian of his high school class.  Of course, he was only one of 6.  He says, “You know you’re from a small town when to be in the top 10% you have to be number one!”

He and his dad partner on a farming and ranching operation and to support his farming habit, Rush travels the country as a professional speaker conducting leadership and motivational seminars.  He is also the Executive Vice President of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau.

He was selected to represent American agriculture in Germany as part of an agricultural exchange program and has been honored as the Students in Free Enterprise Alumnus of the Year.  He serves at the request of the Governor on the New Mexico State Fair Commission and on the Natural Lands Protection Committee.  He also serves on the American Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture Board of Directors.

He has won state and national awards for his public speaking and Co-Authored a book on leadership titled, Why Is No One Following Me?   He has been quoted in Bloomberg Business Weekly, National Public Radio, PBS and ABC News.

Saturday Morning Motivational AssemblySecretary Sonny Perdue
SONNY PERDUE, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
Sonny Perdue came by his knowledge of agriculture the old fashioned way: he was born into a farming family in Bonaire, Georgia.  From childhood, and through his life in business and elected office, Perdue has experienced the industry from every possible perspective.  Uniquely qualified as a former farmer, agribusinessman, veterinarian, state legislator, and governor of Georgia, he became the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture on April 25, 2017.

Perdue’s policies as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will be guided by four principles which will inform his decisions. First, he will maximize the ability of the men and women of America’s agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor. It should be the aim of the American government to remove every obstacle and give farmers, ranchers, and producers every opportunity to prosper.  Second, he will prioritize customer service every day for American taxpayers and consumers.  They will expect, and have every right to demand, that their government conduct the people’s business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity.  Third, as Americans expect a safe and secure food supply, USDA will continue to serve in the critical role of ensuring the food we put on the table to feed our families meets the strict safety standards we’ve established.  Food security is a key component of national security, because hunger and peace do not long coexist.  And fourth, Perdue will always remember that America’s agricultural bounty comes directly from the land.  And today, those land resources sustain more than 320 million Americans and countless millions more around the globe.  Perdue’s father’s words still ring true: We’re all stewards of the land, owned or rented, and our responsibility is to leave it better than we found it.

Additionally, Perdue recognizes that American agriculture needs a strong advocate to promote its interests to international markets.  The United States is blessed to be able to produce more than its citizens can consume, which implies that we should sell the bounty around the world.  The relationship between the USDA and its trade representatives, as well as with the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Commerce, will be vital.  The work of promoting American agricultural products to other countries will begin with those relationships and will benefit us domestically, just as it will fulfill the moral imperative of helping to feed the world.  Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.

Under Secretary Perdue, the USDA will always be facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused.  He will seek solutions to problems and not lament that the agency might be faced with difficult challenges.

As a youngster growing up on a dairy and diversified row crop farm in rural Georgia, Perdue never fully realized that the blessings of purposeful, meaningful work would serve him as well as they have in life. When he was a young boy feeding the calves and plowing the fields, he was an integral part of the workforce on his father’s farm.  As the son of a mother who was an English teacher for 42 years, he benefitted from her teachings as well – not just by instilling in him the beliefs he still holds dear, but also by lending him an appreciation and respect for language and proper grammar.  But more than anything in his life, it was the family farm which shaped Sonny Perdue.  He has lived and breathed the exhilaration of a great crop and the despair and devastation of a drought.  He learned by experience what his father told him as a child, “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.”

The work ethic cemented in him by his farming roots has remained with Sonny Perdue throughout his life.  As a younger man, he served his country in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of Captain.  After earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia, he put that training to use in private practice in North Carolina.  As a member of the Georgia State Senate for eleven years, he eventually ascended to the position of President Pro Tempore as elected by his senate colleagues.  As a two-term governor of Georgia, he was credited with transforming a budget deficit into a surplus, dramatically increasing the student performance in public schools, and fostering an economic environment that allowed employers to flourish and manufacturers and agricultural producers to achieve record levels of exports.  He followed these accomplishments with a successful career in agribusiness, where he focused on commodities and transportation in enterprises that have spanned the southeastern United States. These experiences have proven invaluable in his current role as principal advocate for American agriculture and all that it serves.

Perdue is a strong believer in good government, in that it should operate efficiently and serve the needs of its customers: the people of the United States.  As a state senator, he was recognized as a leading authority on issues including energy and utilities, agriculture, transportation, emerging technologies and economic development, and for his ability to grasp the nuances of complex problems.  As governor, he reformed state budget priorities, helped Georgians create more than 200,000 new jobs, and promoted his home state around the world to attract new businesses.  In 2009, the Reason Foundation’s Innovators in Action magazine recognized Perdue as a leader who “aggressively pursued new strategies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of government and deliver better value at less cost to taxpayers.”  In addition, he was named “Public Official of the Year” in October 2010 by Governing Magazine.  To this day, his thoughts are never very far from the wishes of the citizens – the true owners of the government.

Perdue’s views on agriculture have always been shaped by his first-hand knowledge of all of its aspects, both as a farmer and as an agribusinessman.  He appreciates the daily concerns and needs of American farmers, while also understanding the intricacies of global commodities markets.  He is acknowledged as a national leader in agriculture, having served as a board member for the National Grain & Feed Association, and as President of both the Georgia Feed and Grain Association and the Southeastern Feed and Grain Association. Perdue has long-standing, close relationships with the leadership of the American Farm Bureau and has been recognized by the Georgia 4-H and FFA programs, among others, for his leadership in agriculture.

As the product of Georgia, a state where agriculture is the leading economic driver, Perdue recognizes that agriculture is an issue and industry which cuts across political party boundaries.  He recognizes that the size, scope, and diversity of America’s agricultural sector requires reaching across the aisle so that partisanship doesn’t get in the way of good solutions for American farmers, ranchers, and consumers.

Perdue has been married to Mary Ruff Perdue for 44 years and has four adult children and fourteen grandchildren.  He and his wife have served as foster parents for eight children awaiting adoption.  Perdue remains a licensed airplane and helicopter pilot and avid outdoor sportsman.

Sunday Morning Inspirational Assembly
DR. EUGEN SCHOENFELDDr. Eugen Schoenfeld
Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld was born November 8, 1925. He is the oldest son of a book store owner in a small town in Czechoslovakia. Mr. Schoenfeld discusses the gradual influence of anti-Semitism, transfer to, life in, and liberation from a concentration camp.

Monday Night Congress Gala
MISS AMERICA 2018, CARA MUNDMiss America, Cara Mund
Cara Mund is an Ivy League Honors Graduate from Brown University headed to law school. At age 14, Cara founded North Dakota’s Annual Make-A-Wish Fashion Show. For 10 years, Cara has brightened 23 Wish Kids’ lives, became a “Certified Wish Granter,” and raised over $78,500 for Make-A-Wish. In 2011, President Barack Obama recognized Cara’s charitable efforts. Cara is a national dance champion and trained four summers with the Radio City Rockettes. Cara’s recent work in the United States Senate and her passion for helping others ignited her own wish — to become the first Miss America from North Dakota.

ZIPPY DUVALLZippy Duvall
President of the American Farm Bureau Federation since January 2016, Zippy Duvall is a third-generation farmer from Georgia. In addition to a 400-head beef cow herd for which he grows his own hay, Duvall and his wife, Bonnie, also grow more than 750,000 broilers per year.

Prior to being elected AFBF president, Duvall served for 9 years as president of the Georgia Farm Bureau. Duvall’s long leadership history in his home state includes service on the Georgia Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee and Georgia Farm Bureau board of directors.

He was also recognized with several state appointments, including then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Georgia Development Authority. His many state honors include Georgia Dairy Family of the Year.

As GFB president, Duvall’s service on the AFBF board of directors included roles on the Trade Advisory Committee, including several international trade missions, and on the Finance Committee.

In 2017, Duvall was honored by National 4-H Council as a founding luminary, an exclusive group of accomplished and influential 4-H alumni.

Duvall and his wife, Bonnie, have been married for more than 38 years, raised four children and now enjoy spending time with their five grandchildren. They attend New Hope Baptist Church in Greshamville, Georgia, where he serves as a deacon.

Tuesday Morning Closing Assembly
DAN CLARKDan Clark
Dan Clark is CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, an internationally recognized Speaker, Entertainer, Songwriter/ Recording Artist and New York Times Best Selling Author. Since 1982, Dan has spoken to more than 3 million people in over 4,000 audiences, in all 50 states, and in 30 foreign countries. Achievers North America and Achievers Europe named Dan one of the Top Ten Speakers in the World!

Dan is the primary contributing author to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series and author of twenty of his own best selling books, including “Puppies for Sale” which was made into a film at Paramount Studios starring the late Jack Lemmon. Dan has been published in more than 30 million books in 30 languages worldwide!

Dan suffered a paralyzing injury that cut short his football career. Sixteen doctors told him he would not recover, but recover he did! Since then, Dan has flown in fighter jets twice the speed of sound, raced automobiles in Germany and was honored to carry the Olympic Torch in the 2002 Winter Games. Dan has been the general session speaker at the United Nations World Congress, conducted UN leadership training in Europe, Asia and Russia, and was the keynote speaker at the U.S. Air Force Four Star Generals conference. Dan has spoken to our combat troops all over the world, is a Leadership and Character Development Consultant for the US Armed Forces, has worked with Fortune 500 companies, NASA and Super Bowl champions. Dan’s inspirational story has been featured on over 500 TV and radio shows, in Entrepreneur Magazine and as the feature article in Mayo Clinic Magazine. Dan is one of the most in demand speakers in America and recognized expert on Managing Change, Building Winning Teams and Taking Life To The Next Level!