Communications and Legislative Affairs Officer
Ryan Conley enjoys hearing people’s stories and helping tell them in a compelling way. It was this interest that led him to a career in communications. He is a communications and legislative affairs officer at the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), a position he has held since June 2020. In this role, he collaborates on communications and outreach strategies, drives FFAR’s media presence and oversees daily management of programs, projects and events.
Conley previously worked as a communications specialist at Axiom Resource Management, Inc., where he assisted the Department of Defense in rolling out the military’s new electronic health record. In this capacity, he wrote and edited external-facing collateral, such as newsletters, factsheets, annual reports and talking points for leaderships’ speaking engagements.
Prior to this, Conley promoted community banking and consumer protection at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) as the communications coordinator. There, he coordinated media relations and drafted press releases. In addition, he wrote material for NCRC’s quarterly newsletter, social media and 25th anniversary retrospective.
Conley’s communications career began at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He managed the peer review process of manuscripts, assisted with soliciting manuscripts from prominent academics and promoted new journal initiatives.
He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from The University of Memphis and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from The George Washington University. His wife and he have a daughter and three cats, none of whom pay attention to him.
Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area addressed water use efficiency in agriculture by developing water conservation and reuse technologies, improving crop and livestock breeds, creating improved agronomic practices, increasing the social and economic tractability of conservation practices and enhancing the efficacy of Extension services.
FFAR’s Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area builds on earlier work to increase water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reduces agricultural water pollution and develops water reuse technologies.
FFAR’s 2016-2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area increased soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or new innovative practices that improve soil health.
The Soil Health Challenge Area advances existing research and identifies linkages between farm productivity and soil health, while also addressing barriers to the adoption of soil health practices.
FFAR’s 2016-2018 Protein Challenge Area sought to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of diverse proteins.
The Advance Animal Systems challenge area supports sustainable animal production through environmentally sound productions practices and advancement in animal health and welfare. Additionally, the Next Generation Crops Challenge Area develops non-traditional crops, including plant-based proteins, and creates new economic opportunities for conventional crops to increase future crop diversity and farm profitability.
About 40 percent of food in the US, or $161 billion each year, is lost or wasted. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Food and Waste Loss Challenge Area addressed the social, economic and environmental impacts from food waste and loss through research that developed of novel uses for agricultural waste, improved storage and distribution, supported tracking and monitoring, minimized spoilage through pre- and post-harvest innovations and changed behaviors to reduce food waste
FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area addresses food waste and loss and supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.
Supporting innovation is necessary for sustainable results. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to agricultural innovations. Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability was a 2016-2018 Challenge Area that focused on understanding the barriers and processes that prevented the adoption of technology and research results into sustainable practices.
The 2016-2018 Urban Food Systems Challenge Area addressed feeding urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture and augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.
The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area continues this work and enhances our ability to feed urban populations.
FFAR’s 2016-2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area focused on helping Americans meet the USDA 2015 Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, including research to both produce and provide access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.
FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.