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Keynote Speakers

2014 FFA Convention Keynote Speakers 

Speaker Biographies

Nick Vujicic

Motivational Speaker | Sessions 1A, 1B, 1C

Imagine getting through your busy day without hands or feet. Picture your life without the ability to walk, care for your basic needs, or even embrace those you love. Meet Nicholas Vujicic. Without any medical explanation or warning, Nick was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, without arms and legs. The early days were difficult.

Throughout his childhood, Nick not only dealt with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, but he also struggled with depression and loneliness. Nick constantly wondered why he was different than all the other kids. He questioned the purpose of life, or if he even had a purpose. According to Nick, the victory over his struggles, as well as his strength and passion for life today, can be credited to his faith. His family, friends and the many people he has encountered along the journey have inspired him to carry on, as well.

Donnie Smith

President and CEO, Tyson Foods, Inc. | Third Gene​ral Session

Donnie’s enthusiasm for Tyson Foods is contagious among the company’s 115,000 Team Members. Appointed to his role as president and CEO in 2009, his passion is the hallmark of his tenure at the company, which he joined in 1980. Daily he guides Tyson Foods to be a company with a conscience, focused on feeding the world great, affordable food, while also making a positive difference in people’s lives. A native of Tennessee, Donnie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

Jeff Simmons

President, Elanco | Fourth General Session

Since 2008, Jeff Simmons has served as president of Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company,. In more than two decades with the company, Simmons has held a number of sales, marketing and management positions, in the United States and abroad. These international experiences offered Simmons a new perspective on food and agriculture and created a deep conviction about the need for solutions to global food security. He has published white papers on this topic, most recently, the ENOUGH report, and actively engages in food security discussions in social media.

Jane Herlong

Humorist and Best-selling Author | Seventh General Session

Jane Jenkins Herlong is a Lowcountry, South Carolina farm girl who went from bare feet to high heels to become a nationally recognized Southern Humorist, award-winning professional singer and Amazon best-selling author. Jane’s comedy and singing is featured on both Sirius XM Radio and Pandora Internet Radio. A former Miss America contestant, Jane is a well-known speaker with American Farm Bureau, Farm Credit and numerous ag-related organizations.