DeKalb’s famous “flying ear of corn” long ago branded this region as a center of new ideas in American farming. Nearly a century later, the area’s premier agricultural heritage group is bringing national experts and local entrepreneurs together in a can’t-miss event about DeKalb County’s future.
“An Evening With Innovators,” sponsored by the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association (DAAHA), will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb. Several speakers will explore successful innovations in food production, technology and marketing. They are:
- Natalie Shmulik, CEO of Chicago’s famed food business incubator The Hatchery.
- Kim Kidwell, dean of the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- Scott Shearer, chair of the Department of Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University.
- Nick Nagele, owner of DeKalb’s Whiskey Acres Distilling Co.
NIU President Lisa Freeman is a member of the DAAHA board and helped plan the event. She strongly encourages NIU students, faculty and staff to attend.
“Together with our local community, other state universities and organizations like the Illinois Innovation Network, we can build on historic strengths to create a national reputation in food systems management,” Freeman said.
Food, water and environment are the guiding themes of the university’s new Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability (NICCS), announced earlier this month at a news conference with Gov. Bruce Rauner, University of Illinois President Tim Killeen and President Freeman.
“Becoming a national and international leader in agricultural innovation will bring countless benefits in terms of employment, investment, research and sustainability,” Freeman said. “We want business leaders, scientists, farmers and consumers to look to DeKalb County for the latest information and leadership in the area of food systems.”
“An Evening With Innovators” is DAAHA’s signature annual event and fundraiser. Freeman and fellow DAAHA board members want to use this year’s gathering to ramp up the conversation around agricultural innovation in DeKalb County: What it is, who’s doing it, and what it will take to move the area’s unique legacy to the next level.
Speakers will deliver TED Talk-style presentations, followed by a fireside chat presentation in which all four panelists will discuss the challenges faced by local agriculture entrepreneurs. The event also features a networking social hour, cash bar and silent auction. Tickets are $30 from now until Monday, Nov. 5, then increase to $35. Students with a current student ID may attend for just $10. Tickets are available through the Egyptian box office at 135 N. Second Street, DeKalb, or online.