Kentucky Hemp Research Foundation’s (KHRF)

Board of Directors


Annie Rouse (Founder and President) – Annie Rouse is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar who studied the environmental life cycle of industrial hemp in Canada. She modeled hemp building materials within hempcrete and biofiber hemp blocks, assessing the materials’ carbon footprint, resource depletion and toxicological impact. Ms. Rouse holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kentucky in Economics and a Master’s Degree in International Environmental Policy and an MBA from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Before her hemp ventures, Ms. Rouse worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium analyzing the aquarium’s potential for LEED certification. Additionally, Ms. Rouse has worked to improve watershed and waste management practices.  As an eco-enthusiast, she advocates and educates on industrial hemp and environmental stewardship through her website and philosophy Think Hempy Thoughts.



Betsy Kephart (Secretary) – Betsy Kephart was born and raised in Northern Kentucky in the greater Cincinnati area, but has lived on rural Kentucky farms since 1976. She and her husband have lived on their Bourbon County farm for 30+ years.  They have raised tobacco, cattle, chickens, organic vegetables, and currently have a one acre vineyard. Their vineyard includes two varietal hybrids – chambourcin, a French-American hybrid, and cayuga, an American hybrid.  They have sold their grapes to Jeanne Farris Winery and Bistro, Wildside Winery, and Lover’s Leap Vineyards and Winery, among others. Mrs. Kephart is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with a minor in History. She currently works as an Administrative Research Assistant Principal in the Office of the Dean of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. She and her husband are in the process of developing and initiating a new business that will incorporate hemp seed in the final product.



Andrew Graves (Board Member) –  is a 7th-generation farmer with lifelong ties to agriculture in Kentucky. He has overseen the family agricultural enterprises for 30+ years, tending cattle and growing soybeans, wheat, corn & tobacco and has spent the past 23 years leading efforts to legalize and re-commercialize industrial hemp. From 1994 until 2000, Mr. Graves served as president of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association and as a board member of the North American Industrial Hemp Council. He also served as president of Fayette County Farm Bureau from 1993 thru 1995, and in this role was instrumental in obtaining the 1994 National Farm Bureau resolution in support of allowing U.S. farmers to grow industrial hemp. In 1995, Mr. Graves worked with then former Kentucky governor Louie Nunn to write and pass legislation in fostering hemp research in Kentucky. Presently, in addition to his efforts with Atalo Holdings, Mr. Graves owns and operates BrickWorks, a masonry contracting business that he formed in 2002.



Joseph Hickey (Treasurer) – Joseph Hickey’s roots in the hemp industry began in 1993 as founder and Executive Director of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative. Soon after, he was convincing then Gov. Brereton Jones to form the Hemp Task Force (to study the feasibility of hemp as a Kentucky cash crop). In 1998, Mr. Hickey was a founder and board member of Kenex Ltd, Canada’s first commercial hemp seed and fiber processing company. For over a decade, Mr. Hickey helped start and grow a number of environmentally conscious organizations, including Tierra Madre, LLC with Woody Harrelson, Baswood, and Prairie Pulp & Paper. Upon Kentucky’s reintroduction of hemp in early 2014, Mr. Hickey became a founding member of Hemp Oil Kentucky, Kentucky Hemp Seed Research & Development Co. and Kenex Kentucky. He is currently working with farmers, state regulators and attorneys to bring Kentucky its first commercial scale hemp seed breeding, crushing, and fiber processing facility.



Nancy Roberts (Board Member) – Being a pioneer in an emerging agricultural industry is not new to Nancy Roberts. She left her Paralegal career in 1988 to pursue her passion for gardening, opening Kentucky’s first organic and hydroponic garden center, New Earth Organics and Hydroponics. In 1989 she introduced the industry concept of featuring an operating hydroponic grow room in-house for customer and community education, at a time when traveling to Epcot was typically the only way most people could view hydroponics in action. Her early focus on community education translates today to teaching sustainable growing solutions through educational workshops at New Earth.  Mrs. Roberts’ new company, New Earth Hemp Solutions, pairs hemp farmers with her team at New Earth Organics and Hydroponics, who offer over 100 years of combined growing experience and expertise in organics, horticultural lighting, cloning, and hydroponics. Nancy’s future projects include organic hemp production research; hemp cloning and tissue culture propagation; hemp education events; and co-hosting a Hempcrete Building and Hemp Immersion Weekend scheduled for fall of 2016.



Georgia Rodes (Board Member)- Georgia Rodes is a Kentucky native who grew up on Rodesia Farm in Harrodsburg. Mrs. Rodes is currently a Trustee to Frontier Nursing Service and serves on the Board of Directors at the McDowell House Museum. In addition, she is a Lexington Women’s Club Honorary Member. In the past, she served on the Board of Directors at the Headley Museum, Midway College, Lexington Philanthropic, and the Salvation Army.



Jane Harrod (Board Member)– Jane Harrod is a Kentuckian with deep roots to the farming community, social activism and music. Her native restoration business of 35 years, Jane’s Native Seed, has had significant impact by putting back native geno-type wildflowers into numerous projects around Kentucky, with the Olmsted -Louisville Parks restoration being one of the most significant and high profile.

Ms. Harrod proudly served from 1992 through 1997 on the board of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth learning how to move our political landscape toward justice for all. She served on the Governor’s Forestry Board from 2001 until 2003 researching and recommending the ‘Best Management Practices’ for Forestry that we work from today. Today she farms hogs , cattle, vegetables and hemp along with her two brothers at her Clays Ferry farm south of Lexington.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.