Facebook Pixel IFBG Speakers | Western Kentucky University Skip to main content

Speaker Sessions

 At the morning speaker sessions, IdeaFestival Bowling Green participants listen to innovators from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines as they talk about their big ideas, their passions, and their visions. Participants also have the chance to ask questions.

Briann Harlan


IdeaFestival Bowling Green 2020

Land and Legacy:
Building Ideas That Will Last


(click on names to learn more)

Samantha ForeSamantha Fore,  c
hef/owner, Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites. A first-generation Sri Lankan-American from Lexington, Kentucky, Samantha Fore started her pop-up restaurant in 2016 after traditional Sri Lankan brunches in her home outgrew her dining room. One of the few representations of Sri Lankan cuisine in the country, Sri Lankan Bites reflects Sam’s Sri Lankan upbringing in the American South; its menus include her spins on southern classics and riffs on her mother's time-tested recipes. Her work has been featured in Food & Wine and Bon Appétit. She is a 2019 Smith Fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance and was selected as one of Plate Magazine’s 2018 Chefs to Watch. 


Larah HelyaneLarah Helayne,  singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and activist. Larah Helayne is an 18-year-old singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and activist from Mount Sterling, Kentucky. Larah grew up in the foothills of the Appalachias, and her life and music have been greatly impacted by the magnificence of the mountains. Her work reflects both the beauty and struggles of living in Eastern Kentucky and weaves in the story of her own wild and wonderful life. Her songs possess a startling honesty and an unfaltering hope and captivated the audience at TEDx Corbin in March 2019


Gerry Seavo JamesGerry Seavo James,  founder, The Explore Kentucky Initiative and the Waterman Series. Gerry Seavo James promotes adventure tourism, environmental protection, and community and cultural exploration across Kentucky and beyond. Through the Explore Kentucky Initiative and The Waterman Series, and through his past service as a steering committee member for the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange, he has worked with communities on outdoor recreational events, branding initiatives, conservation projects, and more. An avid paddler, he was given a National Leadership Award by the American Canoe Association. He also uses photography, cinematography, and journalism to tell stories about the landscapes and people he encounters; in 2017, Lexonomics named him the most impactful artist in the Bluegrass.


Timothy KerchevilleTimothy Kercheville,  farm manager, International Center of KentuckyTimothy Kercheville is a full-time farmer and agriculture consultant who discovers cooperative and regenerative agricultural solutions for both urban and rural settings.  He contracts as a farmer/consultant with private properties, organizations, and public institutions across Kentucky and Tennessee to build new farms, improve existing farm systems, transform lawns to gardens, or serve as a farm manager. All the systems he designs are biodiverse and food-productive and combine agriculture with education. 


Kellyn LaCour-ConantKellyn LaCour-Conant,  coastal resources scientist,  Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of LouisianaKellyn LaCour-Conant is a wetland scientist and a daughter of Isle Brevelle. Having worked in restoration ecology for over 10 years, she’s knowledgeable about many different ecosystems and traditional relationships with nature. Kellyn grew up learning about wildlife from her family and went on to earn a bachelor’s in biology from Amherst College and a master’s in marine and environmental biology from Nicholls State University. She now works for CPRA in Baton Rouge to advance Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.


Shelby RaderDr. Shelby Rader,  assistant research scientist in geochemistry, Indiana University. Dr. Shelby Rader is a geochemist who originally hails from Irvine, Kentucky. She gradated from The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky and received her bachelor’s degree in geology and chemistry from WKU before obtaining her doctorate in geochemistry from the University of Arizona. Afterwards, Shelby completed a postdoctoral researcher position at the University of Massachusetts–Lowells then moved to Indiana University, where she currently works. Through her research, Shelby is able to observe how large-scale geologic processes, both from the past and currently, alter the geochemistry of our environment, ultimately impacting plant and animal life, our resources, and us.  

Stay tuned for our Speaker Packet in our Student Engagement section!

Watch videos of previous speakers 
on our Past Festivals page!

IdeaFestival Bowling Green Just Imagine logo

February 11, 2020
Van Meter Hall & Downing Student Union
Western Kentucky University


Minds-on, Hands-on, Activities


Past Festivals







Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 12/6/19