Keynote Speakers

Thursday – 9/5: Dr. Bill Deutsch

Bill is a Research Fellow, Emeritus in the Auburn University School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences.
Originally from Rochester, New York, Bill worked as a Research Biologist and Director of Aquatic Research for environmental consulting on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania  for 11 years, before moving to Alabama in 1985 to complete his doctorate and post-doc in Aquatic Ecology at Auburn University. He then worked for the International Center for Aquaculture and Aquatic Environments, traveling to 25 countries for watershed-related teaching and research.

In 1992, Bill co-founded the citizen science program, Alabama Water Watch and served as Director for 20 years. Although he officially retired from Auburn University in 2013, he still works part-time for Alabama Water Watch and Global Water Watch.

In 2018, he published the book, Alabama Rivers: A Celebration & Challenge, and has spent the past year traveling the state to share its message. Bill will draw from his book for his keynote address, Waking up to Responsible Water Resource Management in Alabama’s Third Century.

Friday – 9/6 Keynote: Commissioner Rick Pate

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

Pate put his degree and determination to work and started Pate Landscape Co., Inc. over 36 years ago. 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 had a purebred Charolais herd of his own, but at the death of his father in 2012, he also took over the family cattle operation, Pate Charolais Ranch.  

Growing up on a farm, having a cattle operation, running a landscape business, 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 is mindful that by 2050, farmers will have to double food production to meet the needs of the world and that it will take visionary leaders who understand that we have to work smarter, not just harder, to achieve these goals. He plans to do his part by working with department staff, agriculture stakeholders and the people of Alabama to make a difference.