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Temple Grandin waves in the press room after the television movie "Temple Grandin" won an Emmy Award in 2010. Grandin, noted animal welfare expert, will be the keynote speaker for an event next month in Willmar. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, file)

Temple Grandin to headline animal science conference next month in Willmar, Minn.

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WILLMAR -- World renowned animal welfare expert Temple Grandin is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Animal Science Conference and Venture Forum Sept. 4 and 5 in Willmar.

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The MinnWest Technology Foundation is hosting the second annual conference at the MinnWest Technology Campus to bring animal science and food industry stakeholders together for discussions on the latest industry trends, for networking and investment opportunities, according to a member of the committee organizing the event.

"We want to be the catalyst to bring those stakeholders together," said Joanna Schrupp, project assistant at the MinnWest Technology Campus

The organizers want to build on the success of the first conference last fall and are excited to bring Grandin to west central Minnesota. The area is the "perfect backdrop for the conference," Schrupp says, because it is so strong in animal agriculture and innovation.

"We want to draw attention to our area and our industry," she says. "Animal agriculture is a key to survival and growth in our area."

Steve Renquist, executive director of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, says the goal is to bring together leaders who are on the cutting edge of animal science, plus showcase the technology campus. He noted that the campus is now home to the University of Minnesota Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center.

"We have a place. We have ideas. We have established companies looking to improve their portfolios and ideas and new businesspeople looking for opportunities," Renquist said.

Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and is autistic. She is known for work in autism advocacy and working with the livestock industry on facility design, animal handling and animal welfare. Her speech will be "The World Needs All Kinds of Minds" and will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

According to the provisional schedule on the technology foundation's website, the event begins with an evening reception Sept. 4 at the local Holiday Inn and continues Sept. 5 at the campus with Glenn Leitch, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, giving the kick-off speech on innovation and new product development at the company.

There will be a panel discussion on innovations in animal science technologies that will include Drew Ryder, president of Feedlogic; Jim Sandstrom, general manager of Epitopix; Dave Theis, of Midwest Swine Recovery; and Anastasios Tsinas, associate professor of animal production at the Technological Education Institute in Epirus, Arta, Greece.

There will also be a panel discussion on livestock and animal welfare, including discussion on undercover videos, social media attacks and changes in retail and the food industry that includes Dallas Hockman, of the National Pork Producers Council, and Kay Johnson Smith, president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance in Washington, D.C.

A third panel discussion will be on food safety and traceability and will feature Brian Paulson, food ingredient director of quality assurance for Davisco Foods, and Jeff Varcoe, vice president of quality assurance and food safety for The Schwan Food Company.

Dan Malmstrom, president and chief operating officer of Douglas Scientific, will be the closing speaker, with remarks innovation in the rapidly changing field of biotechnology.

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Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

(320) 214-4373
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