Keynote & Innovation Speakers

Monday, February 24
Lunch Keynote, Charlie Hall

Dr. Charles R. (Charlie) Hall
Professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture
Texas A&M University

Dr. Charlie Hall received a B.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Tennessee in 1984, a Master’s Degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from the University of Tennessee in 1986, and his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University. He began his academic career at Texas A&M University in 1988, where he spent 13 years on the faculty before joining the faculty at the University of Tennessee in 2002. In August 2007, Dr. Hall returned to Texas A&M University as Professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture. Dr. Hall’s expertise is in the production and marketing of green industry crops is nationally recognized in academia and among the horticultural clientele he serves.

Dr. Hall currently serves as the Chief Economist for AmericanHort and Co-Chair of the Advisory Council of Seed Your Future. He is former President and Past-President of the board of directors for America in Bloom. He received the Paul Ecke, Jr. award from the Society of American Florists for professional contributions to the floral industry and the Porter Henegar Memorial Award from the Southern Nursery Association for significant contributions to ornamental horticulture research and to the Southern Nursery Association. He is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and has received TNLA’s Staff Award for Outstanding Service to the Industry.  

Tuesday, February 25
Innovation Session, Jeff Hyde

Dr. Jeff Hyde
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Dr. Jeff Hyde became director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Sept. 1. As director of the largest Extension agency in the nation, Hyde oversees agency programming in agriculture and natural resources, Family and Community Health, 4-H and Youth Development, and Community Economic Development. Previously, he was acting associate dean and director of Penn State Extension.

At Penn State, Hyde held a number of administrative positions, including Associate Director of Programs for Extension and Associate Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education. His research and extension education programs focused on factors affecting farm profitability, including new production technologies and business or marketing planning.

Hyde earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from Purdue University and bachelor’s degree in economics from Frostburg State University. He also earned an associate of arts degree in business administration from Allegany Community College.

Tuesday, February 25
Innovation Session, Rusty Hohlt

Rusty Hohlt
Director, Healthy Texas
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Rusty Hohlt has 15 years of professional experience working in community health education as a part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Her educational background includes a B.S. from Texas State University, a M.S. from Texas A&M University – Kingsville, and she is currently pursuing her doctorate at Abilene Christian University.

Professionally Hohlt has worked as a county Extension agent in rural and urban counties, as a project specialist, program specialist and curriculum contributor with the USDA Afri Research Grant – Learn, Grow, Eat, & GO!, and as the assistant director helping launch the Healthy South Texas initiative between the Texas A&M Health Science Center and AgriLife Extension.

Rusty currently serves as the Director for Healthy Texas and was recently appointed Associate Director of the Texas A&M System Healthy Texas Institute. Previous community health initiatives Hohlt has coordinated include development and support of a county-based diabetes self-management, prevention, and awareness educational program; development and coordination of employee wellness programs; state-wide training and launch of a family nutrition curriculum; state-wide training and launch of holiday weight maintenance program; and initiatives to fight childhood overweight.

Wednesday, February 26
Breakfast Keynote, Marva Beck

Hon. Marva Beck
Former State Representative,  Texas Master Gardener State President
& First JMG Group Leader in the United States

Marva Beck received her certification as a Texas Master Gardener in January 1990 in Harris County and promptly moved to a rural county where the program was unknown. In order to continue her work as a Master Gardener she offered her services to the school district and began classes, both elementary and high school, of identifying wildflowers and trees. She went on to be honored with the Individual Master Gardener Award and Publications Award in 1998.

Ms. Beck served as President of the State Master Gardener Association and received the Appreciation Award for her service in 1999-2000, and in 2004 The Sharie Lanza Ambassador Award.

In 1999 at a Master Gardener State Conference, Ms. Beck saw the first presentation of the Junior Master Gardener Program.  She recognized the potential for children and immediately registered and graduated the very first group of Certified Junior Master Gardeners. For her work, she was awarded the first ever JMG Teacher/Leader of the Year Award in June 2000.

Carrying her love for nature to other areas, she served as President of Texas Resource Conservation and Development Councils working with NRCS and the State Conservationist.  She also served as President of Southwest States RC&D, serving 7 states, and Secretary to the National Board of RC&D Councils. In 2010, Ms. Beck was elected State Representative and served in the 82nd Legislature. One of her committee assignments was Natural Resources.

Currently, Ms. Beck is trying retirement.