rgo 2023


July 20, 2023

Fargo Civic Center

Going to the edge gives you experiences. Experiences give you ideas. Ideas change the world.

Why do some people thrive on the edge while it scares others?

At TEDxFargo EDGE, we will explore this question as we challenge your perception of the uncomfortable, the safe, the new, and the different and guide you to see ideas through other lenses.

TEDxFargo focuses on engaging attendees in a world-class experience by showcasing the best of our community. Everyone’s experiences and perceptions are unique but just as true as your own. Join us as we embark on a journey to embrace our differences and meet each other at the edge to share our experiences and ideas.


Gary Vernon

Transform your community with trails

Gary is the Director of Outdoor Recreation and Trail Innovation for Runway Group and is considered one of the leading experts in developing mountain bike trail systems. His work over the past decade has been supporting the vision of Steuart and Tom Walton by overseeing design and construction of over 600 miles of world class mountain bike trails and growing around the State of Arkansas and other locations. His work includes the Oz Trails region of Northwest Arkansas as well as the Arkansas State Parks Monument Trail projects. In 2019 he was the recipient of the American Trails Chairman award for advancing trail design and changing the landscape for trail systems. His role has recently expanded to include other forms of outdoor recreation that includes creating world class climbing, paddling and other outdoor recreation experiences.

Jake Joraanstad

Digitizing the Oldest Industry on the Planet

You need a doctor once a year maybe and a fireman once in a lifetime, if you’re unlucky. But you need a farmer three times a day. Wise words from Kaleb Cooper.

When we think about our food supply chain, it’s not from Point A to Point B. It’s perhaps A to B To DEFG. But it all starts by a farmer delivering a harvested crop to a local facility, but then seeing it being carried through a physical infrastructure that has been the focus on investment the past 100 years.

But, information is not flowing at the same speed. The processes that we think of yesteryear – paper receipts, mailing contracts, getting paid by check – are still the status quo. Learn the challenges and opportunities there are to help digitize the world’s oldest industry.” Jake Joraanstad is the CEO of Bushel, an independently owned and operated software company headquartered in Fargo, N.D. Bushel is focused on bringing innovative software products and solutions to the agriculture value chain. Since launching in 2017, Bushel’s software has powered 2,200+ grain facilities and reaches over 100,000 farmers across the U.S. and Canada with real-time business information for their producers. Jake is heavily involved in the entrepreneurial community and enjoys helping with local startup events.

Regina Louise

Embracing Vulnerability: Liberating the Soul through Sharing Our Shame

I will use a few images to explore the depths of what it is to be labeled severely emotionally disturbed, and how to not only survive deep wounding and a life chocked full of emotional dysfunction, but to also thrive by transforming the emotional poverty into emotional wealth, or one’s gold.

Regina Louise is the founder of Possibility HQRS: a boutique coaching agency. Regina’s newest work, Permission Granted: Kick-Ass Strategies to Bootstrap Your Way to Unconditional Self-Love (New World Library, June 2021) is her first-ever personal growth offering. Her bestselling memoirs Somebody’s Someone and I Am Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story, were nominated for numerous awards including a 2020 NAACP Image Award for Best Director, and a Christopher Award, which it won for “upholding the highest essence of triumph of the human spirit,” for a television film. A summa cum laud graduate of University of California Riverside with a Master of Fine Arts (terminal degree). Regina is a Hoffman Process teacher, a workshop facilitator and motivational speaker who resides in the San Francisco bay Area. Her story has been featured in media outlets such as Good Morning America, NPR’s All Things Considered, Lee Harris Podcast, San Francisco Chronicle, Essence Magazine, CNN and many more.

Wine in Culture and Agriculture

Sam Wai

Going back to the foundation of wine as something rooted in culture, history, sense of place, vineyards, and people and families that grow it. Sam Wai has been in the FM area since the early 1970s. He was a financial executive and retired 7 years ago. Sam has been a wine educator for over 35 years. He has a wine cellar of about 2,500 bottles and grew wine grapes for 20 years. He also take guests to Greece for wine/food and history tours.

Hannah Stelter

The Middle Finger Method

Have you ever been told, “Just be yourself, and everyone will love you”? As someone who was completely lost and unsure of their own identity, I could never find solace in this well-meaning advice. Join me in this talk as I reveal my journey of self-discovery and how I managed to embrace imperfection while I was in the process of figuring out who I truly was and am. Let my story inspire and encourage you to do the same. Hannah Stelter is a 24-year-old artist and entrepreneur. Starting her social media journey in 2020, she quickly gained a large following for her relatable art content. Her fine art focuses on body positive portraits, with a goal to help people embrace themselves and celebrate everyone’s uniqueness. She started an art supply company in 2022 that makes art more approachable for beginners, to spread the message of embracing imperfection past oneself and into ones art.

Michelle Berg

The Misnomer of Rare [Disease]

Many hear the word rare and think unique or very few, perhaps even extraordinary. While each person with a rare disease is unique and the number of individuals affected by each rare disease are few, the totality and enormity of rare disease is tremendous. The summation of rare diseases is something that we all must comprehend as it affects everyone in some manner as one of the most significant public health issues and financial burdens, not to mention the humanitarian call for action. There is also great reason for hope in medicine brought about by learnings from research driven by the rare disease community. Michelle Berg has over 20 years of experience and leadership in the biotechnology sector. Most recently she served as President, GMP Nucleic Acids for Aldevron. Before that she served as Vice President of Patient Affairs and Community Engagement for Abeona Therapeutics, a company focused on developing novel gene and cell therapy approaches for treatment of people affected by rare diseases including Epidermolysis Bullosa, Sanfilippo syndrome, and Batten disease. Prior to that, Berg held a variety of roles with increasing reach and responsibility at Aldevron for 16 years, seeing it through several pivotal growth and expansion cycles.

John Absey

I did it my way! Investing in people and acts of kindness.

Jon Absey is in a class all his own. Dating back to his first season in Utah, he performed as a mascot at over 900 NBA games, has donated 16,000-plus hours of assistance in the community for more than 300 community organizations, and raised more than one million dollars for charity in the process. Jon has taken home more than 40 community and national awards, including eight mascot leadership awards, keys to two cities, been honored by three individual governors with his very own “Day in Utah”, been named Mascot of the Year in the NBA five times and Best Mascot out of all sports nationwide twice and, just recently was given an award for the best video by a mascot out of all sports nationwide. He has been inducted into the YMCA Hall of Fame, the Utah Summer Games Hall of Fame, and the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2006.

Going Over the Edge

President Theodore Roosevelt as portrayed by Joe Wiegand

DescriptionJoe Wiegand, the nation’s leading Theodore Roosevelt reprisor, comes from Medora, North Dakota to challenge TEDXFargo attendees to be men and women in the arena! Joe Wiegand is the world’s premiere Theodore Roosevelt reprisor, and as an actor and historian, his portrayals of Theodore Roosevelt have been enjoyed by audiences in all fifty states and internationally. Joe Wiegand is a political science graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Twice elected to head Sewanee’s student government, Joe had earlier been elected Governor of the American Legion Illinois Boys State and President of the American Legion Boys Nation programs. Joe served as a graduate assistant at the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, before launching his own business as a political campaign consultant and public policy expert. Joe has been named a Wilkins Scholar, a Harry S. Truman Scholar, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. Joe was working in public policy and running election campaigns when he began performing as Theodore Roosevelt in 2002.