The Indiana State Department of Agriculture has named Linda Forler (pictured) Hoosier Homestead Award program manager. She will oversee all portions of the program, which was created to honor Indiana’s longstanding farming families. Forler will be responsible for processing the applications, communicating with applicants and planning award ceremonies twice a year, among other duties. She has 20 years of corporate and nonprofit communications, marketing and planning experience. Forler began her career in corporate communication with OneAmerica and later moved into sales at National Insurance Services. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations. Ian Connor (pictured) has been named deputy communications director. He will assist the communications director with promoting the agency’s mission through various communications channels, such as news releases, social media and the website, to name a few. Connor began his career in public relations working as a public information officer for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. In addition to working for the state, he worked in public relations for Harrison College and in the television industry with WEHT in Evansville. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a bachelor’s degree in Radio/Television. Dakota Shepard has been named field auditor. She will perform discovery audits of agricultural businesses with the primary goal being to ensure compliance with state regulations pertaining to the marketing and storage of producer grain. Shepard previously worked with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency as a program technician, assisting producers with farm programs and records management. She graduated from The Ohio State University with an associate’s degree in Agricultural Business.

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