Conference Speakers

In order of appearance on conference agenda.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Nick Williams

Alabama Association of RC&D Councils

Nick Williams was born May 6, 1969, in Chatom, Alabama, where he has made his home. He graduated from Washington County High School in 1987 and served in the U.S, Navy from 1987-1995, during which time he was stationed in Kamisya, Japan; Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico; and Pensacola, Florida.

Nick spent well over 20 years in the Information Technology field and served in the Alabama House of Representatives, representing District 65 from 2005-2006. Nick was elected Washington County Probate Judge in 2012 and was re-elected in 2018.

Nick is the Chairman of the Ala-Tom RC&D Council, based in Thomasville, which serves nine Southwest Alabama counties, Chairman of the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of RC&D Councils.

Nick earned a Bachelor’s in Theology from Southwestern Assemblies of God University, a MBA from Liberty University and an Executive Certificate in Business Administration from Liberty University.

Katie Conner

Executive Director
Alabama Association of RC&D Councils

Katie Conner is the Executive Director for the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils. She began working for RC&D in 2013 as the Office Manager for the Tombigbee RC&D Council and was hired as the Operations Manager for the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils in 2015. She was hired as the Executive Director in the spring of 2022.

Katie is from Trussville, Alabama, and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Alabama in 2012. It was there that she completed her degree in Communication with a concentration in Media Production and a minor in General Business. She went on to receive her Undergraduate Certificate in Accountancy in 2017, and her Master’s Degree in Accountancy in 2020 from Auburn University. She has aspirations of one day completing a Doctoral Degree.

Katie serves as the Secretary-Treasurer and workshop facilitator for Your Town Alabama. She is also involved in the Junior League of Montgomery where she is the Co-Treasurer for Market 1926, a fundraiser within the Junior League.

Katie and her husband Caleb live in Montgomery with their two sweet dogs, Maggie and Bailey. She loves spending time with friends and family and finding outlets for creativity.

Criag Sizemore

Southeastern Association of RC&D Councils

Craig Sizemore serves as the President of the Southeastern Association of RC&D Councils, a board member for Alabama Association of RC&D Councils, and the Vice Chairman for the Tombigbee RC&D Council. He has been influential and a major player in leading RC&D.

Craig has been a steadfast volunteer in his home community, county and the state of Alabama for over twenty years. He attends all RC&D meetings and trainings and readily shares his knowledge of the RC&D program.  He is a proven leader and works tirelessly to promote the benefits of RC&D and in cultivating partnerships with legislators and other organizations that are an integral part of what RC&D programs are all about.

Craig owns and operates Fairview Farms, a successful registered Angus farm.  He is the managing partner of Sizemore and Sizemore Farms, a 720 acre timber operation that has been owned and operated by his family since the early 1800’s. The farm has been the site of several forestry events over the years, including Forestry Field Day. The partnership has been a TREASURE Forest Landowner since 1987, and has been awarded the Helene Mosley Memorial Treasure Forest Award in District 1 in 1993. Craig also owns and operates Sizemore Insurance Agency, located in Sulligent, Alabama, which was begun in 1913 by his grandfather.

Craig and his wife, Beverly have two daughters, April and Autumn. 

William A. Hodge

National Association of RC&D Councils

William A. Hodge serves as the current president of the National Association of RC&D Councils. He also serves on the Executive Board for the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils and is a member of the Mid-South RC&D Council in Montgomery, Alabama.

He is the Directory of County Operations for Federal and State Resources for the Cooperative Extension Program at Tuskegee University. He is currently a member of the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) Leadership Team, Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Alabama Food and Agriculture Council, State Emergency Board (Alabama) and the Southern Region Leadership for Middle Managers in Cooperative Extension.

William is also the chair of the Union Springs Housing Authority and is the chair of the Bullock County Healthcare Authority. He is a member of the St. John AME Church where he serves on the Board of Trustees.

Kristin Scroggin

genWHY Communications

Meet Kristin Scroggin – A huge fan of Generational Diversity armed with a Communication Studies master’s degree from the University of Alabama and a bachelor’s from Montevallo in decoding GenZ slang and millennial emojis.  Kristin embarked on her research endeavors during her almost 20-year tenure as a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville before giving birth to her company, genWHY Communications in 2017. 

Kristin has a passion for decoding the generational enigma and is known for her straight-talk speaking style and wicked twist of humor. Kristin has been on stages in 42 states, left her mark in 3 countries, and sprinkled her wisdom across more than 160 conferences for 350+ diverse organizations. From Fortune 500 giants to pint-sized non-profits, she’s been there, done that, and left an indelible impression.

Published in magazines, guest on multiple podcasts, and the workhorse behind groundbreaking research, Kristin isn’t just about speaking – she’s about making waves in the world of succession planning and leadership program development. Need someone to referee the battle of Boomers and Millennials on your teams? Look no further; Kristin consults on attracting, developing, and retaining the brightest minds.

But wait, there’s more! Fueled by an unrelenting wanderlust, Kristin and her partner-in-travel (husband) are on a quest to explore every nook and cranny of the globe. Amidst their jet-setting adventures, they somehow manage to keep their sanity while raising four humans who never stop eating. 

To learn more and get resources visit

Noopie Cosby

The Cosby Company

Noopie Cosby was born in Selma, Alabama, and graduated from Albert G. Parish High School. After graduation, Noopie attended Marion Military Institute Junior College, where he played football and acquired his associate’s degree. He then went on to further his education at Livingston University, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Education. Noopie applied his degree at Thomasville High School, where he was a social studies teacher and football coach from 1974-1976. In 1978, at the age of 29, Noopie was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and served there until 1994. While serving in the legislature, he also owned and operated Cosby Ice Company from 1989-2014. Currently, Noopie serves as president of the Cosby Company, dealing with Government Affairs and Public Relations, a position he has held since 1994.

Noopie is married to the former Susan Maddox from Enterprise. They are the parents of five children and seven grandchildren. The Cosbys attend First Baptist Church and Noopie likes Alabama football, visiting “The Country”, and Quail hunting, which he admits to being an awful shot.

Chris Langley

Alabama Association of Conservation Districts

Chris Langley grew up 12 miles northwest of LaFayette, AL On his family farm in Chambers County. He is a fifth-generation farmer. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 29 years and have four children and three grandchildren who also live on the farm.

Chris and his family attend Rock Spring Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon.

Chris has been self-employed for 44 years. He owns and operates Chris Langley Timer & Management, Inc. and also runs a cattle business consisting of commercial and Angus cows.

Chris is a lifetime member of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association where he served as president in 2019 and was named into the Livestock Hall of Fame and ACA “Personality of the Year” in 2020. His family was named “Outstanding Young Farm Family” in 1996 along with “Farm of Distinction” in 2017 by Alfa. In that same year, the Langley family was named Alabama Angus Family of the Year.

Chis has served on the Chambers County Farmers Federation for more than 25 years where he also served as president in 2021 and 2022.

Chris was named Alabama’s 2017 “Outstanding Logger of the Year” by the Alabama Loggers Council and has been a member of the Alabama Forestry Association and the American Loggers Council for many years. His timber has been certified as an American Tree Farm since 2001.

In 2020, Chris was appointed to by Governor Kay Ivey to serve a five-year term on the Alabama Forestry Commission. Presently, he serves as Vice-Chairman of the Alabama Forestry Commissioners.

Chris served as past chairman of the Chambers County Soil and Water and continues to serve on its board. In addition, he served as past chairman of the Coosa Valley RC&D Council and is now serving as treasurer. In November 2022, he was elected president of the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts.

Dr. William Puckett

Executive Director
Alabama Soil and Water Conervation Committee

Dr. Puckett has more than three decades of experience in soil and water conservation. Puckett currently serves as the Executive Director of Alabama’s Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) where he leads 67 conservation districts in a statewide effort to implement locally-led conservation priorities. He also provides leadership for the Alabama Agricultural Conservation and Development Commission. The Commission provides cost-share for installation of conservation practices.

Prior to taking on this role with SWCC, he served as State Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Alabama for six years. Before coming to Alabama, Dr. Puckett was the NRCS Deputy Chief for Science and Technology and Soil Survey and Resource Assessment in Washington, D.C. He was also Director of the NRCS Soil Quality Institute. Dr. Puckett is known for his proactive approach, can-do attitude, and building effective partnerships with a host of organizations and agencies committed to soil and water conservation and the wise stewardship of Alabama’s natural resources.

Tim Lovelace


Tim Lovelace is one funny man!  As a Grammy and Dove nominated artist, this nationally sought after storyteller and musician has been described as the most versatile comedian on stage today.  His award-winning musical talents, coupled with his crystal clean humor, have people of all ages laughing their ribs loose!

With over three decades of world travel under his performance belt, he has developed his concerts into more than just a great show.  He uses humor to motivate and inspire by uniquely delivering life lessons.  He also has an extraordinary way of weaving songs into his stage performance as he masterfully displays his musical abilities on piano, guitar and harmonica.
Tim’s chart-topping comedy songs, such as “Don’t Sit in My Pew” and “Side Effects,” are continuously aired on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, as well as other major radio stations around the country.  His comedy has been featured on videos that have garnered both gold and platinum sales awards.

Tim is the host of the national TV hit, The Music City Show, aired weekly on five syndicated networks, including RFD-TV’s FamilyNet, NRB and Heartland.

Tim is also a staff songwriter for Daywind Music Publishing in Nashville, TN.  Additionally, he and his wife, Mary Alice, cowrite feature articles for

Recently inking a deal with StowTown Records as their first comedian, the upcoming release of his new comedy DVD, Living in a Coffee World, features material that is not only hilarious, but also family friendly.  The video was recorded at Lee University and covers a plethora of Tim’s humorous observations of everyday life.  One comedy song tells of him drinking a “freight train espresso” … a monumental mistake!

In one of his zany stories, Tim relays a comical version of the woes of surviving the antagonization of an elementary school bully.  He then seamlessly shifts the focus to encouraging kids and teens who are currently faced with untold bullying.  This thought provoking moment reaches the hearts of students and adults alike.

Tim’s passion for life is contagious and effectual.  The excitement in his comedy concerts cannot be described, it must be experienced.  He not only wants people to laugh, his ultimate goal is to utilize humor with a purpose to encourage people to discover real joy and inspire them to passionately pursue their own dreams.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Walker Williams

Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations for the East Team
National Resources Conservation Service

Walker was raised in Clayton, Alabama on a family farm where they grow peanuts, corn, and cotton. The farm also consists of cattle and broiler houses. He attended Auburn University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy and Soils in 2000 and a Master of Science degree in Weed Science in 2002.

After graduation in 2002, Walker began working for NRCS as a Soil Conservationist in Dekalb County. In 2004, he became the District Conservationist in Conecuh County. In 2006, Walker became the East Team Resource Conservationist in Troy, Alabama where he served until becoming the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations for the East Team in 2020.

Walker has been married to his wife, Ashley, whom he met at Auburn for 19 years. They are the proud parents of Sawyer, Eli, and Reagan. Walker enjoys hunting and fishing with his children, helping his brother gather crops in the fall, and serving in his church. 

Grace Ellis

Executive Director
Alabama Agribusiness Council

Grace Smith Ellis grew up on a beef cattle, hay and timber operation in North Autauga County. Upon graduating from Billingsley School in 2002, she attended Auburn University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications in 2006. As a student, she was active in several agricultural organizations serving as Alabama state FFA president, president of the Auburn University College of Agriculture Student Council, and Ag Ambassador.

After earning her degree, she began working in marketing, communications, and public relations in the agriculture industry for Alabama Farmers Cooperative in 2006, Auburn University College of Agriculture in 2011 and Alabama Ag Credit in 2013. 
Also in 2013, Grace married another farm kid – Taber Ellis of Hope Hull, Ala. In 2017, Grace accepted a part-time position as development officer for the Alabama FFA Foundation, a move that allowed her to contribute to an organization she loves while having more time at home with their two daughters – Anna Grace and Hazel.

In 2021, Grace was hired as executive director of the Alabama Agribusiness Council, an organization that is best described as the umbrella organization for all aspects of agribusiness. In this role, she serves as an advocate and ambassador for rural Alabama and the ag industry, specifically that of agricultural business.

Grace, Taber and their girls live on her childhood farm in Billingsley, Ala. where they raise stocker cattle and are active at Indian Grave Baptist Church and in their community. 

Mike Roden

At-Large Board Member, Non-Profit Specialist
Alabama Association of RC&D Councils

Mike Roden has acquired thirty-three years of experience working in resource conservation and development. He was affiliated with Alabama’s Mountains, Rivers, and Valleys RC&D Council from 1989 to 2020, first serving twenty-two years as the Coordinator under the Natural Resources Conservation Service and then as the Executive Director for nine years. His involvement in RC&D does not end there. From 2011-2022, Mike served as the Executive Director of the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils.

During his tenure with RC&D, Mike has been involved at the national, regional, state, and local levels. Due to his passion and commitment, the RC&D program has grown and developed into the program it is today. He has introduced many innovative concepts that have spread across Alabama and surrounding states. A few of these include animal waste nutrient recycling, poultry litter relocation, on-site sewage wetlands for rural businesses, and small farmer rainwater collection. In addition, he played an integral part in establishing the WaterWorks Center for Environmental Education under the AMRV RC&D Council and is the author of three children’s environmental education coloring books.

Mike has received numerous awards including the National USDA-NRCS Civil Rights Award, the National Association of RC&D Councils Coordinator of the Year Award and has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils and the Southeastern Association of RC&D Councils.

Mike currently serves as the At-Large Board Member and Non-Profit Specialist for the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils.

Vickie Watkins

Executive Director
Alabama Associaton of Conservation Districts

Vickie Watkins is retired from Wall Street Water Authority, a Public Utility where she was the Office manager for over 15 years and still maintains her Grade II ADEM Water operator certification.  She also worked with the Macon County Revenue Commissioner as an administrative assistant for over 11 years before leaving her job to raise her family.  She is a small business owner of Whippoorwill Vineyards among other things and was appointed to serve on the Alabama Small Business Council. Whippoorwill Vineyards is located in Notasulga, Alabama where she and her family work together to farm a 17-acre vineyard, produce wine from the vineyard and sale to the public at their tasting room.  She has worked tirelessly for years to improve the wine industry and Agritourism for the State of Alabama.   

She loves her farm community with the Tallapoosa County Farmers Federation and continues to serve as their Administrative Assistant and Farm City Co-Chair.  She serves as Vice-Chair on the Mid South Resource Conservation and Development Council as a Macon County Soil and Water representative to promote economic, natural and social resources in ways that improve the area’s economy, environment and quality of life.  She is a member of Liberty City Methodist Church and serves on the finance committee and is a member of the Women’s Committee for Macon and Tallapoosa Counties.  Vickie now continues her work in conservation and her passion to help small farmers and landowners in the position of Executive Director for the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts.

Lauranne James

Executive Director
Northwest RC&D Council

Earned a B.S. Degree from the University of Alabama and was employed as a Medicaid Waiver Case Manager at Northwest Alabama Council of Local Government (NACOLG).  Later Lauranne became Lead Case Manager responsible for managing the administrative portions of the multi-million dollar annual budget and navigating the challenges of the Medicaid system for 29 years decided to retire August 2016.
Retirement was short-lived because she started as the Executive Director of Northwest RC&D October 2016.
This position has been very exciting because she is working with a new group of individuals and agencies. RC&D covers the same five counties as NACOLG so the territory remained the same and the work has been rewarding. Lauranne has enjoyed facing the new challenges and learning to navigate a different system. Since becoming Executive Director, there have been new doors opened, allowing her to meet and work with some really amazing and talented people, not only in northwest Alabama but throughout the entire state.

Anna Cornelius

Chief Operating Officer
National Associaiton of RC&D Councils

Anna Cornelius is the Chief Operating Officer of the National Association of RC&D Councils, a national organization dedicated to promoting and supporting local resource conservation and development efforts across the United States. With a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Troy University, Anna brings a unique perspective to her role, combining her expertise in financial management with her passion for storytelling and community development.

Anna’s RC&D career began as a program manager for a local council in the Wiregrass region of Alabama, where she spent five years building relationships with community leaders and advocating for local initiatives. Today, she travels the country as a spokesperson for the National Association of RC&D Councils, sharing the stories of hardworking individuals and communities making a difference in their local areas.

In her role as Chief Operating Officer, Anna is dedicated to ensuring that the National Association of RC&D Councils remains a strong and effective advocate for local communities. She works closely with council members, partner organizations, and potential funders to promote the importance of community-led efforts to create positive change.

Anna lives in Dothan, Alabama, with her husband, the Rev. Clark Cornelius. Together, they have built a beautifully blended family of 16. When she’s not working, she enjoys serving alongside her church, volunteering with local organizations, and spending time with her family and their beloved dog, Mr. Weenie.

Laurice McCollum

Executive Director
Tombigbee RC&D Council

Laurice G. McCollum currently serves as the Executive Director of Tombigbee RC&D, which serves eight counties in West Alabama. She received a Bachelor of Science, as well as Master’s Degree in Agricultural Business Management from Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama. Her professional history includes working in Agribusiness Management at Pioneer Hybrid in Des-Moines, Iowa, serving as a Soil Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Green Bay, Wisconsin and operated as Director of various non-profit organizations throughout South Alabama. Laurice is 20 years married and the mother of one teenage son. She is passionate about serving the community and enjoys working on civic activities that inspire positive change! She has received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Service to the Community and currently serves as Secretary of Old Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

Rick Pate

Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industires

Rick Pate grew up working his family’s cattle and poultry farm in Lowndes County, where he learned the value of hard work and perseverance. Because of his roots in agriculture, he studied ornamental horticulture and received his bachelor’s degree in 1978 from Auburn University’s College of Agriculture.

Rick Pate was elected Commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries in 2018 out of four in Republican primary. He was re-elected in 2022 without Republican or Democratic Party opposition.

Pate put his degree and determination to work and started Pate Landscape Co., Inc. in 1982. Under Pate’s leadership, the company has been profitable and award winning. His focus on building relationships in the community through both professional and civic organizations and his commitment to install quality work are what Pate credits his success to. He plans to continue these philosophies during his service as Commissioner of Agriculture.

Even though Pate has spent most of his time operating Pate Landscape, he never let go of his love for and connection to the farm in Lowndes County. He owned a purebred Charolais herd, but after the death of his father in 2012, he also took over the family cattle operation, Pate Charolais Ranch.

In 1996, he joined Lowndesboro’s Town Council and served as Mayor in 2004. While serving as mayor, a new well and water tank were added, the water system was expanded, and sidewalks were installed through town. He resigned in 2018 after being elected Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

Growing up on a farm, running a business and cattle operation, and serving as the mayor of a small rural town has given Pate a unique prospective to bring to the office of Ag Commissioner. He has a genuine concern for the future of agriculture and the people of Alabama.

Pate has been a member of the Montgomery Rotary Club since 1987 and served as president in 2011-2012. He also served as President of the Alabama Associated General Contractors (AGC) in 2015 and was appointed “Life Governor” of AGC of America. In 2022, Commissioner Pate was inducted in the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame and in 2023 into the Alabama Livestock Hall of Fame. He served as president of the Montgomery Auburn Alumni Club and is a lifetime member of the Auburn Alumni Association. He endowed a scholarship at Auburn University for Lowndes County Residents who attend the college.

Pate has been married to the former Julie Dismukes since 1989, and they have two grown sons, Richard and James.

During Commissioner Pate’s term as Agriculture Commissioner, he has brought Alabama numerous programs and funding, such as the Cares Act Money, Local Food Purchasing Agreement, A Healthy You Healthy Farm, Sweet Grown Alabama, Alabama Farm to School Program and more.