INDIANAPOLIS (March 27, 2019) — AgriNovus Indiana, the state’s initiative to promote and accelerate the growth of the agbioscience sector, has added two new members to its board of directors:

  • Gene Miles, president and CEO, First Farmers Bank & Trust
  • Melissa Proffitt, partner-in-charge of client relations and chairs the Food and Agribusiness Group and Energy Group, Ice Miller LLP

“These new additions to the AgriNovus Board of Directors continue to highlight the reach and expanse of the Indiana agbioscience sector,” said Beth Bechdol, president and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana. “A premier community bank specializing in agricultural lending in the Midwest and a full-service national law firm with robust start-up, intellectual property and economic development practices for food and agricultural clients illustrate the next level of support for the agbiosciences.”

Gene Miles is president and CEO for First Farmers Bank & Trust. In his 40-year banking career, Miles has served in a variety of capacities at First Farmers including commercial lending, compliance, investments, marketing, and as executive vice president. Miles oversees the general management of the bank and also manages stockholder and director relations. Miles received his bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Purdue University and his graduate degree in banking from the University of Wisconsin.

Melissa Proffitt is partner-in-charge of client relations and chairs the Food and Agribusiness Group and Energy Group for Ice Miller LLP. Proffitt is responsible for business development initiatives for the firm. As founder and chair of the Food and Agribusiness Group, she represents numerous agriculture-related clients with regard to all legal needs and is involved in economic development initiatives and coordinates with state and federal agencies focused on agricultural and energy initiatives. She is an accomplished attorney and community leader. Proffitt received her bachelor’s degree with distinction from Indiana University and her juris doctor from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Miles and Proffitt join 25 other agbioscience leaders on the AgriNovus Board of Directors. Just this month, the board also elected the 2019 Executive Committee and Board leadership. Members are:

  • Aaron Schacht, executive vice president of innovation, regulatory and business development for Elanco – chair of the AgriNovus Board
  • Jane Ade Stevens, chief executive officer for Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing
  • Council – vice chair of the AgriNovus Board
  • Beth Bechdol, president and CEO for AgriNovus Indiana
  • Jay Hulbert, president and CEO for Ag Alumni Seed
  • David Johnson, President and CEO of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership
  • Gary Morris, president and COO for Clabber Girl
  • Mike Packnett, CEO for Parkview Health
  • Karen Plaut, dean of the College of Agriculture for Purdue University
  • Susanne Wasson, president of crop protection business platform for Corteva Agriscience

“It is an honor to serve and chair the AgriNovus Executive Committee along with an outstanding group of statewide leaders,” said Aaron Schacht, executive vice president of innovation, regulatory and business development for Elanco. “The Indiana agbioscience sector has made a conscious effort to increase the awareness of the sector and I look forward to working with the AgriNovus team and stakeholders to continue to make Indiana the home of food and ag innovation.”

EnviroKure, a Pennsylvania-based producer of biologic amendments and organic fertilizers, also joins AgriNovus as an Innovation Council member. In September 2018, the company announced plans to build a full-scale manufacturing plant in Bluffton, Ind. When complete, the 80,000-square-foot facility will house state-of the-art equipment to extract soil-building microbes from chicken manure and cultivate field-proven biofertilizers and biostimulants.

“The addition of EnviroKure to our Innovation Council showcases their commitment to growing their business in Indiana and becoming an engaged partner in the agbioscience sector,” said Bechdol.

EnviroKure was founded in 2011 to develop technology to provide sustainable solutions to issues caused by the over-abundance of chicken manure in the DelMarVa/Chesapeake Bay region.

AgriNovus Indiana is a strategic initiative that is guided by an Executive Committee and Board of Directors comprised of stakeholders from business, university, community and government leaders across Indiana’s diverse food and agricultural sector. AgriNovus Indiana’s Board of Directors serves as advocates for the initiative to other community and industry representatives.

About AgriNovus Indiana

AgriNovus Indiana is the state’s initiative focused on advancing the agbiosciences sector as a nationally recognized leader through education, research and talent development; strategic collaborations among corporations, industry associations, government and universities; the creation and support of new companies; and branding and targeted promotions to elevate the sector. AgriNovus Indiana is part of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), an effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth. To learn more about AgriNovus Indiana, visit