Each year, more than 1.3 million people visit Agricenter International, a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to advancing knowledge and understanding of agriculture. It is the third largest tourism draw within Shelby County. Shelby County Government owns the 1,000 acres of Agricenter and holds a conservation easement on the property, while day-to-day operations are managed by Agricenter International. The non-profit was formed in 1979 and the main building was constructed in 1986.
The agritourism programs offered through Agricenter International continue to educate and provide economic stimulus to the county and region. The overall economic impact of Agricenter International, the business entities operating as tenants and visitor spending at events, is $524 million annually. Local taxes collected from these activities are $4.7 million annually, and direct and indirect jobs produced are 2,517.
Butler, a fifth generation farmer, has been owner/operator of Jones Creek Farms for the last 20 years. John is passionate about the importance of U.S. agriculture and its role in providing the world with nutritious and economical products. He has spent countless hours traveling all over the U.S. and the world telling the story of American agriculture. He has served on several commodity associations and has been very active in numerous professional organizations such as the American and Tennessee Farm Bureaus, the United Soybean Board, the TN Beef Industry Council, the TN Soybean Association, and the Center for Food Integrity.
Director of Farm and Research
Kirksey manages the farm and conducts field research trials on 600 acres. He works with all segments of the agriculture industry as he establishes product development, variety testing, and new crop interests on corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat, rice, and other crops. In his career, he has been involved in research and development for several companies and has 30 years of experience in experimental trials. Kirksey has a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Email Bruce
Director of Sales and Event Management
Skaer has been with the Agricenter since 2014. Prior to this she has had several years’ experience directing the sales, marketing and event services sector of the hospitality industry in Florida, Texas, Virgin Islands, Kansas, and Memphis. Skaer is Past President of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International – Memphis Chapter and is a board member of Metro Memphis Attractions Association. She holds a B.S. from Kansas State University. Email Sue or call 901-757-7777
Director of Communications
Donhardt is tasked with sharing the mission of the Agricenter with the public through outreach, event planning, grant writing, and fundraising. Prior to this she served as Senior Planner in the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability where she wrote and received over $415,000 in grants. Donhardt is appointed to the Collierville Design Review Commission, is an elected officer for the TN Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (TNASLA), and serves on the National ASLA Historic American Landscapes Survey committee. She holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from University of Georgia and a B.S. Biology, cum laude, from Furman University. Email Christine or call 901-757-7777
Chief Financial Officer
Since 2010, Morgan has overseen financial operations for all aspects of Agricenter. He has worked in private sector accounting for 20 years and has experience in manufacturing, distribution, and venue management. He holds a Bachelors of Accountancy from University of Mississippi and is a member of the International Association of Venue Managers. Email Jason or call 901-757-7777
University of Tennessee Extension Agent & Agricenter International Director of Education
Roberts received his B.S. degree from Tennessee Technology University in Cookeville and his M.S. from the University of Missouri - Columbia. Roberts has been in agriculture extension since 1994 in Tennessee and in Missouri. He began at the Agricenter in 2003. He has received several awards for his work with Youth Education in Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources. Roberts has also served for six years on the Progressive Agriculture Board of Directors. Email Tim or call 901-435-7109
Educator of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources
Knirr has been a Master Gardener since 2011 and spent her volunteer hours working with the educational programs at the Agricenter. She has over 20 years’ experience in the Information Technology field and has spent most of her career teaching technology and life sciences to all ages. Knirr has a B.S. in Business Administration from Excelsior College: The University of the State of New York. Email Melisa
Manager and Director of Sales of ShowPlace Arena
White joined Agricenter in 2005. He is on the Board of Directors of The League of Agriculture & Equine Centers, serves in an elected role and is Chairman of the Sponsorship Committee. White earned The Certified Manager of Equine Centers through the League and Middle TN State University. White has been involved with horses his whole career and is co-owner of Dynamite Barrel Races, LLC and the State Director of TN International Barrel Racing Association. He has a B.S. in Agriculture from UT Martin. Email Jamie or call 901-378-7470
Organic Resource Center Farm Manager
Lankford is responsible for the operation of the new organic farm, developing peri-urban agriculture projects, and promoting organic agricultural practices. He has operated his family farm in Ripley for 27 years and supplied Kroger Delta Division with trailers full of delicious Ripley tomatoes for 24 years. Lankford has a degree in Plant and Soil Science from UT Martin. Email Chris
Moore has 30+ years’ experience in building maintenance, mechanical and management in the Memphis area. Mark and his staff take care of the building and grounds.
Expo Center Operations Manager
Ware has been with Agricenter since 2010 in building maintenance. Frank and his dedicated and experienced staff take care of all the show set ups. In addition they do building and grounds repair and maintenance of electrical, plumbing, HVAC, equipment/vehicle repairs, painting & cleaning.
Assistant to the President
Haslett has been with the Agricenter since 2015. She has over 20 years of experience as a writer, editor, and executive assistant. She holds a Master in Professional/Technical Writing and B.A. in English and French all from University of Memphis. Prior to joining Agricenter Haslett was with Guardsmark creating training programs and doing special projects for the President. Email Kathy or call 901-757-7777
Wilson served as President for 15 years and is currently overseeing renovations at ShowPlace Arena. He is on the advisory board for Agricenter Commission. Under his leadership at Agricenter, two global agricultural corporations, Bayer CropScience and Helena Chemical, invested $20 million in high tech facilities on the Agricenter property. In addition, a 1 MW solar farm was installed on five acres of Agricenter land and produces 1.6 gigawatt-hours of energy annually. Call John Charles at 901-757-7777
Joe Callaway, Chairman of the Board; The Callaway Group
Marjory Walker, Vice Chair; National Cotton Council of America
Willie German, Secretary; German Farms
Earl Grochau, Treasurer; Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Margaret Oldham, At-Large Member, MWOldham Consulting
Joe McKinnon, At-Large Member, Tennessee Farm Bureau
Jim Boyd, Past Chair; Livestock Nutrition Center
John Butler, Ex Officio Member, President, Agricenter International, Inc.
Charles Askew, Retired from C.D.Askew Company, Realtors
Colleen Coury, TN Department of Agriculture
Mike Dennison, BASF
Marlon Foster, Knowledge Quest
Joel Fulmer, Boyle Investments
Bliss Hicky, Rutledge Investment Company
Andrew Jordan, Jordan Associates
Sean McCarty, Helena Agri-Enterprises
Dian Berryman McGuire, Berryman & Associates
Bill Mayfield, Retired from USDA
Wayne Morris, Retired from FedEx Express
Tim Price, Southern Cotton Ginners Association
Mark Pryor, The Seam
Steve Shields, Jackson, Shields, Yeiser, & Holt
Gary Taylor, Retired from Cargill Cotton
Jai Templeton, Former Commissioner of TN Department of Agriculture
Jim Todd, University of Tennessee Extension
Lee Todd, Retired from Southern Cotton Ginners Association
Brad Williams, Kelley Enterprises/Burlison Gin Co/Kelcot Warehouses
Garner Williams, The Marston Group, PLC
Shelby County Agricenter Commission
Richard Hollis, Jr., Chairman of the Commission, Hollis & Burns Insurance, Inc.
Bill Gillon, Vice Chairman, The Cotton Board
Marsh Campbell, Retired from Regions Bank
Dorothy Cleaves, SunTrust Bank
Chris Triplett, Ensafe
Tom Needham, Shelby County Mayoral Designee, Shelby County Public Works
Commissioner David Bradford, Shelby County Board of Commissioners, Appointee
Ken Plunk, Retired from Union Planters Corporation, Advisory
Ham Smythe, III, Premier Transportation, Advisory
John Charles Wilson, President Emeritus Agricenter International, Advisory