Past Board Members

Biographical sketches of most board members were current at the time of their service on the MISA board. MISA remains in touch with many of its past board members. If you have a need to contact one of them, please contact MISA at [email protected] for assistance.


Nancy Adams
Nancy describes herself as a futurist, environmentalist and farmer. She has an interdisciplinary master's degree with concentrations in long-term global environmental issues and sustainable development. She and a friend have a 120 acre diversified farm in southeastern Minnesota, where they are planting thousands of trees and other perennial crops in various agroforestry schemes to establish a permanent agriculture system that mimics the native oak savanna prairie ecosystem, sequesters carbon, and can replace the corn/soybean rotation. The main crops are hazelnuts, chestnuts, and various other fruits trees and bushes, herbs, native plants, and forages. She worked in Africa for 6 years, where among other things she and designed and coordinated an agriculture program that targeted 50,000 farmers, and has traveled extensively in Africa, South America and Asia. She is particularly interested in renewable energy and is involved as a volunteer with many organizations.

Todd Arnold
Todd helped to spearhead the Sustainability Studies Minor and teaches "Sustainable People, Sustainable Planet." "I like to impart on students that eating mindfully is perhaps the most important single change that they could make in their lives to help achieve sustainability." He has been involved in issues relating to wildlife (primarily waterfowl) production in prairie landscapes for the last two decades. "The future of prairie wildlife is intimately related to decisions that occur in working agriculture landscapes." Todd has his Ph.D. in Zoology, M.Sc. in Wildlife and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.

Phillip Batalden
Phil is a fourth-generation farmer in southwestern Minnesota. For the past 37 years, he has grown corn, soybeans, wheat and other specialty grains. In 1998 he transitioned to organic agriculture. Phil has extensive experience with grains and livestock. His interests are in the areas of sustainable crop systems, small farm income diversification, biodiversity, and local food systems. Phil is a former member of the Southwest Research and Outreach Center advisory committee. He is currently serving on the Highwater Township board of supervisors. Phil manages his family farm with his wife and children.

Jolene Beisang
Jolene is a CPA. She grew up on a farm in central Minnesota that uses sustainable agriculture practices as a part of their operation that includes: organic grass fed beef, organic pork, free range chickens, organic soy beans, corn, wheat and rye. Jolene is "strong supporter of local foods" and is excited to be a part of something she believes in.

JoAnne Berkenkamp
JoAnne Berkenkamp has joined IATP as Program Director for Local Foods. This new program reflects IATP's commitment to local, sustainable food systems and will range in scope from local to national and international. JoAnne also works with fellow IATP staff to connect local food efforts with IATP's activity in the health, rural development, trade and environmental arenas. For 11 years, JoAnne led an independent consulting practice working with non-profits, food businesses and foundations across the US. Her consulting work focused on market development for locally and sustainably grown food and the creation of farmer-owned businesses. She has worked extensively in the program evaluation arena, leading efforts to improve the impact and shared learning of numerous food- and agriculture-related programs. Previously, she worked for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, DC and with Catholic Relief Services at various locations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She started her career in the corporate finance world. JoAnne has a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, and a Bachelors degree in Finance from the University of Illinois.

DeEtta Bilek
DeEtta, her husband, and four children moved back to Wadena, Minnesota in 1984 to the farm on which she was born and raised. The farm is diversified with crops and small scale livestock. The land is certified organic. In addition, DeEtta is the Program Manager for the Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) of Minnesota. DeEtta's husband Tom is Chairman of the Buckwheat Growers Assn of MN.

Michael Chaney
Michael is a founding member of “Project Sweetie Pie” a progressive non-profit that serves as an incubator of sustainable thought and action centered on horticulture, urban farming, and green business creation in north Minneapolis. For the past seven years he has interacted with several University of Minnesota entities including CURA, Extension, the Master Gardner program and agricultural education projects.

Shelley Connor
Shelly serves as the Assistant Director of the Wild Farm Alliance in Minneapolis. Her work at Wild Farm Alliance includes development, communications, program, and policy work all aimed at incorporating more biodiversity conservation practices in farm operations. She has previously worked at Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides in Oregon and Appalachian Voices in North Carolina. She has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Sustainable Food and Farming from the University of Montana-Missoula.

Cecilia Coulter
is a small farm owner in Lindstrom and a contract writer, editor and researcher for the Minnesota Farmers Market Association. Currently she is serving on Governor Dayton's Food Safety and Defense Task Force and brings a wealth of knowledge about food licensing laws and regulations to help food-based businesses in Minnesota.

R. Kent Crookston
Kent was professor and head of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. Prior to taking the role of department head, he served as Director of the College of Agriculture's Center for Sustainable Agriculture. His background includes extensive international work as well. His research centers around both field and laboratory work in the area of crop management.

Atina Diffley
Atina Diffley is an experienced organic vegetable farmer, educating consumers, farmers and policy makers about organic farming and related issues. She provides consulting services to organic vegetable farmers though her business, Organic FarmingWorks LLC. She presently serves on the board of Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, as Secretary of the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Services Board, and as Board President for the Organic Field School at Gardens of Eagan.

Gigi DiGiacomo
Gigi DiGiacomo is a freelance agricultural economist who has collaborated with farmers, Extension educators and other professionals to develop publications about farm marketing, planning, and business management. She has conducted business planning workshops for farmers and education professionals in the Upper Midwest. Gigi works and lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota with her family and small flock of laying hens.

Mary Doerr
Mary operates a 20-acre farm near Kenyon, MN with a Grade A dairy facility using sustainable practices such as crop rotation, manure management, and controlled grazing of dairy goats. Manager of a seasonal Grade A dairy facility, Mary obtained Minnesota's first licensed farmstead goat cheese plant which produces fresh goat cheeses under the "Dancing Winds Farm" label. Mary is also a Board member for the Sustainable Farming Association.

Wayne Edgerton
Wayne is presently the Agriculture Policy Director with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He is also co-chair of a statewide committee of state and federal agencies to encourage and support integrated pest management and also co-chairs the Big Woods Dairy Advisory Committee. The goal of this committee is to assist the Big Woods Dairy in developing a rotational grazing system that is both profitable and can be used for educational purposes.

Carol Ekarius
Carol and her husband operate a diversified livestock operation in Verndale, Minnesota. Seasonal grass-based dairying is the primary enterprise, supplemented by direct marketing of beef, pork, and lamb. Carol is actively involved with the Sustainable Farming Association, and is past chair of the Central Chapter.

Emily Evans
Emily is an assistant scientist conducting research on organic plots located at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton.

Jon Evert
Jon Evert is a Red River Valley farmer from Comstock, Minnesota. Jon has a great deal of community experience, including his current work with the Lutheran Church as a field staff. He has been active in sustainable agriculture work with a number of organizations, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Food Association.

Carmen Fernholz
Carmen Fernholz is a Madison, Minnesota, farmer with a history of involvement in sustainable agriculture. He has extensive on-farm research and demonstration experience and an interest in establishing relationships with educational institutions on the subject of sustainable agriculture. Carmen served as the first Chairperson for the MISA Board of Directors from its inception until 1995, and returned to the Board in 2004. He is the Vice President of OFARM, a collaborative organic marketing initiative and currently serves as chair of the West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership board.

Marie Flanagan is the Senior Editor for North Central Region SARE, a sustainable agriculture research and education program funded by the USDA - but she's also known to the Twin Cities food blogging community as Minnesota Monthly's sustainable food correspondent and creator of her You Are Where You Eat blog. Hailing from Wisconsin, she holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh.

Muriel French
Muriel has farmed since 1979 on her family's farm near Mantorville, MN. She has been away from farming only 10 years of her life. She is active in farm organization work and is currently on the American Dairy Association Board for her county. She enjoys the educational efforts associated with grazing and the transition to grazing as a farming style. She and her husband have two sons. Muriel enjoys horticulture around the home and in the garden, naming these as important connections to the earth.

Joe Gans
Joe is a 1974 Graduate of U of MN with a BS Degree in Forest Products. He worked in his field of study first as a production engineer for a housing company, and then in wholesale lumber sales for two firms. Since 1985 he has been an agent with New York Life in Aitkin, MN. He has always lived in rural areas and have always grown plants and animals for food. Joe, his wife, and his daughter's family operate a 147-acre farm just north of Aitkin. Joe was a founding member of the Greater Mille Lacs SFA chapter and currently serves on the state SFA executive board as Secretary.

Doug Gunnink (1953 - 2019)
Doug owned a 170-acre farm near Gaylord, Minnesota, raising Dorset sheep, alfalfa, corn, soybeans and small grains. As a Minnesota Department of Agriculture staff member in the sustainable agriculture program, he worked with design, data collection and analysis of sustainable agriculture research and demonstration plots. Doug had a B.S. in Agriculture Education from the University of Minnesota.

Dale Hennen
Dale's educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato; and a Master's of Divinity in World Mission Specialization from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Professionally, he was a high school teacher in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Mounds View Public School Systems. He was employed by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as the Director of the Rural Life Office from 1988 through 2007. Currently he works in Parish Services for the Archdiocese, as a member of a team that is charged with developing positive working relationships with parishes assisting them in focusing on their local parish mission. Dale is a past member and chair of LSP's Board of Directors and a past member of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership Board of Directors.

Ralph Hilgendorf
Ralph is a retired State Services for the Blind counselor and has become active as a partner in the Whole Grain Milling Company, a family business operation in Welcome, Minnesota. Whole Grain Milling is an on-farm processing business, focused on producing organic grain products. Ralph is responsible for marketing and new product development for the business.

Glen Hill
Glen served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Food Association for 7 years. He is currently consulting with community-based food and farming nonprofit organizations. He serves on the Boards of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the National Immigrant Farming Initiative and Our Community Food Project.

William (Bill) Hutchison
Bill Hutchison is a Professor and Extension Entomologist at the University of Minnesota and has been involved in conducting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) research and educational programs over the last 25 years. Bill believes that many of the foundations of IPM are quite compatible with the goals of sustainable agriculture, including the agricultural production goals for environmental integrity, social responsibility and profitability.

Dana Jackson
Dana is Senior Program Associate at Land Stewardship Project (LSP), Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota. In addition to fund raising and administrative responsibilities, she oversees communications for LSP and serves on the policy team. Dana has worked as an advocate for sustainable agriculture with several organizations for the past 18 years. She has also been involved with the development of the graduate program in sustainable agriculture at the University of Minnesota.

Jacqueline Jacob
Jacquie was an Assistant Professor with the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota and working in the area of Poultry Science until she moved on to a position at the University of Kentucky. She spent four years on a poultry project in Mozambique and more recently was the Poultry Extension Coordinator at the University of Florida. In Jacquie's position at the University of Minnesota, one area of her applied research program involved looking at nutrition and management of pasture and organic poultry.

Loretta Jaus

Loretta is an organic dairy farmer from Gibbon, MN. She is also the Central Region Leader for Organic Valley’s Farmers in Marketing Program. She works with the staff in coordinating farmer involvement in the cooperative’s outreach and education efforts and serves as a key Midwest farmer contact.

Gregg Johnson
Gregg Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. His interests are in the area of integrated weed management with an emphasis on applied weed ecology. Gregg is also involved in research on the spatial/temporal dynamics of weed populations across variable landscapes and in the area of information acquisition and management. He is located at the Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca.

Kris Johnson
Kris is the Ecosystem Services Scientist for the North America Freshwater Program of The Nature Conservancy. In this role he works with projects around the country to bring ecosystem services concepts and analysis to floodplain and watershed management. He leads scientific analysis designed to highlight how floodplains, wetlands and other natural infrastructure can be managed to minimize risk, support communities and sustain healthy and productive ecosystems. Through this work, and as a member of the MISA board, he is committed to supporting sustainable agricultural systems that can provide clean water, wildlife habitat, and a variety of benefits to farmers and communities.

Loni Kemp
Loni is a natural resources analyst with The Minnesota Project. She holds an M.A. in Public Policy from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Currently she chairs the Fillmore County Water Planning committee, is a member of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Board and represents The Minnesota Project to the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG). Loni is best known for her pioneering work in organizing local community involvement in groundwater protection in Southeastern Minnesota.

Rob King
Rob King is a Professor and Department Head for the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. Over the past 20 years Rob has conducted research on a range of issues related to farmer cooperative formation and management, and believes cooperatives can play an important role in the evolution of community-based sustainable farming systems.

Tim King
Tim (with his wife Jan and son Colin) is an active market gardener and free lance agricultural writer. He founded the Browerville and Long Prairie farmers market, farms organically, has worked as a VISTA volunteer organizing a low income producers' marketing cooperative and is active with the Staples Irrigation Center. Tim has an A.A.S. in forestry, a B.S. in American Studies and is a certified paralegal.

Chuck Knierim
Chuck is a life-long rural Minnesota resident, where he has been an organic farmer for the past 30 years. He is co-owner of Wildrose Farm, a manufacturer of organic cotton clothing. They also grow and process a variety of organic foods. He is actively involved in a number of organizations including the American Tree Farm Association, the Sustainable Farming Association and chairs the Central Region Sustainable Development Partnership's board of directors.

Rebecca Knittle
Rebecca grew up in a rural area and continues her direct interest in sustainable agriculture through her involvement in a 320-acre Cass County farm which she owns. She is an attorney, works as a consultant to local foundations, and has a background in a variety of educational programs including an educational project with the Minnesota Extension Service (Home Economics) to ensure good mental health among stressed rural families. She is a member of the Land Institute, Land Stewardship Project and the Minnesota Food Association, and currently serves on Minnesota Food Association's Board of Directors.

Phillip O. Larsen
Phil Larsen is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota. He is coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative of the Minnesota Extension Service, and a member of the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Administrative Council. He served as Head of the Department of Plant Pathology from 1985 until July, 1994. He was recently appointed Project Director for the Kellogg Foundation Food Systems Professions Education Initiative at the University of Minnesota.

Richard Levins
Dick was a Professor and Extension Agricultural Economist with the University of Minnesota's Department of Applied Economics. Before coming to Minnesota in 1988, he served on the faculty of the University of Maryland and the University of Florida. Dick does most of his research and extension in areas relating to sustainable agriculture, especially the role of profitability and the ways farm and rural economics are related. He is currently on special assignment as Coordinator of Planning and Programming for the University's 7,500-acre property in Rosemount.

Bernadette Longo
Bernadette was formerly an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota, and is now at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She was a dairy and almond farmer in California, as well as a faculty member at Clemson University in South Carolina. In her current position, Bernadette is working to establish long-term collaborations with community groups and focusing on developing informational and educational materials that are effective for target audiences. She feels topics of sustainable agriculture and environmental education are vitally important for students.

Lynn Mader
Lynn Mader is a food systems consultant working with the Pride of the Prairie local food systems initiative in Western MN. She is a dietician who has worked in holistic nutrition education and complementary medicine. She has an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and has worked in contract food service and healthcare management. She seeks to foster a greater understanding, among the general public and healthcare professionals, about where our food comes from, how it is produced, and the implications for personal and community health.

Albert (Bud) H. Markhart, III (1952-2012)
Bud is a professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota. His interests are in environmental physiology and organic growing systems for commercial production and homeowner gardening. He teaches "Growing Plants Organically; What it Means to be Green?" and is a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Minor Faculty. Research interests focus on the use of cover crops in organic production systems, the effect of low root zone temperature on crop growth, and hydroponics.

Randy Meyer
Randy and his family operate "Pine View Dairy, Inc" a family-held farm corporation. Their farm includes a 95 cow semi-seasonal dairy, rotationally grazed on 280 acres, with hay, oats, barley, winter rye and sorghum sudan in rotation. The farm is 100% certified organic and they market milk through C.R.O.P.P. (Organic Valley). Randy's other affiliations are: State Chair, SFA; Chair, Hiawatha SFA; local advisory board for Midwest Organic Alliance; Board for local Wells Creek watershed.

Dan Miller
Dan is a farmer from Spring Valley, Minnesota as well as a Farm Business Management Instructor with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Dan is a strong advocate for sustainable agriculture and feels that as consumers become more concerned about not only the healthfulness of their food but also the origin of their food and the methods by which it was grown or raised the demand for food produced in a wholesome way will increase.

Dave Minar
Dave and his wife Florence run a 230-acre, 150-cow grass-based operation near New Prague, MN; using a New Zealand style milking parlor and rotationally grazing their crossed bred herd through 45 paddocks. The farm has basically been chemical-free for 20 years, and recently became certified organic. Dave has also participated in a monitoring project, and hosted a field day entitled "How Can Farmers Measure Their Sustainability?" He and his family operate a to build a small creamery where they bottle milk and other assorted dairy products and wholesale to other co-ops and have a home delivery service. The Minars also operate a small retail store where they sell items from their creamery as well as their meat products. You can also find Dave and Florence at the St. Paul Farmers Market each year.

Roger Moon
Roger is a professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota. He has made major contributions to biological control, with major research emphases in ecology and management of livestock insects and mites, biological control of dung- and manure-inhabiting flies, mosquito ecology and dispersal, and modeling and sampling of insect populations.

Joan Nassauer

Jan O'Donnell
Jan served as MFA's Executive Director for twelve years and has been active in the food systems sector for the past 30 years. Jan has a strong commitment to food cooperatives and spent ten years as a manager of food cooperatives. She purchased a farm in Spooner, WI in 2001 and is busy raising chickens, lambs and beef cattle, in addition to a large garden.

Rick Olson
Rick owns and operates Olson's Organic Farm in Becker County, west central Minnesota, where he direct markets his grass-fattened beef and range-fed broilers. In addition to farming, he has been a vocational agricultural teacher, chaired the School Board, worked as a regional coordinator for the Minnesota Dairy Initiative and currently works with the Environmental Quality Assurance Program.

Kari Oquist
Kari researched conventional farming practices on soil physical properties and water quality as a part of her Master's thesis at SWROC. As part of this work she also compared organic and conventional farming practices' impacts on the environment and was introduced to organic farmers. Kari feels it is "imperative for the University to develop partnerships with farmers. A partnership where faculty, farmers and farm organizations share their knowledge and experiences is essential to further sustainable agriculture efforts". Kari has her Master's degree in Water Resources Science and is a Monitoring Program Manager for the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization in Lauderdale, MN.

Morrine Omolo Dr. Morrine Omolo is a Zawadi Africa Education Fund Scholar from Kenya and a former Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellow. She holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from  Fairleigh Dickinson University (Teaneck, NJ), and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Food Science from  UMN Twin Cities. She is certified in Food Defense (IAVA), FSMA Preventive Controls (PCQI),  HACCP and SQF Post Farm Gate. Morrine joined the UMN - Department of Food Science  and Nutrition as a Food Safety Extension Specialist in January 2021.  She is a member of the National Extension Association  of Family & Consumer Sciences, the International Association for Food Protection, and The  Honors Society for Food Science and Technology (Phi Tau Sigma).

Jake Overgaard works as the University of Minnesota Extension Educator for Winona County. He provides resources and training to local farmers, landowners, and residents in general on a wide range of topics including invasive species, season extension, soil conservation, as well as fruit, vegetable, and row crop production. He also helps coordinate the Master Gardener program in the county. He grew up on a small farm in west-central MN, has degrees in political science and horticulture, and worked for 3 years on sustainable agriculture projects as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Derric Pennington
Derric is a Research Associate in the Department of Applied Economic and Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Currently he is working with an interdisciplinary team to model the implications of alternative land-use planning scenarios for food and biofuel production on the joint provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation at local, regional and national scales. He has recently completed the Farm Beginnings program and has volunteered with many local organizations. He is currently a visiting scientist at World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C.

Jerry Perkins
Jerry is a cash-grain farmer with an active interest in implementing sustainable farming practices. He has experience in farming and agricultural development in a variety of settings, including southwestern Minnesota, a Montana Indian reservation, and the Andean Highlands in Bolivia. He served as chair of his local ASCS board in southwestern Minnesota and has been active in a sustainable agricultural research project through the Southwest Minnesota Farm Management group.

Paul Porter
Since 1995, Paul has been with the University of Minnesota as an agronomist. He spent the first five years at the Southwest Research & Outreach Center in Lamberton. His current responsibilites are research and teaching. Prior to coming to Minnesota he was with Clemson University for five years, and with the University of Wyoming in Somalia for three years. Paul served in the Peace Corps in Zaire. He is currently a member of the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership Board of Directors.

Greg Reynolds
Greg and his wife Mary bought an 80 acre farm just west of Delano in 1992. Greg raises about 10 acres of organic vegetables and markets them to co-ops and restaurants in the twin cities. He is currently trying to develop a crop rotation that will build organic matter, eliminate weeds, and raise enough vegetables to make a living. Greg is involved in the Crow River Chapter of the SFA of Minnesota.

Julie Ristau

Julie is the Co-director of On the Commons and is Co-chair of Homegrown Minneapolis. She helped launch the Utne Reader magazine and was the executive director of the National League of Rural Voters.

Mark Ritchie
Mark has served as the president of the IATP since the founding of the organization in 1986. IATP is a non-profit and non-partisan research organization, internationally recognized as a leader in the development of innovative trade policy, especially in the fields of environment and agriculture. He has spent the last twenty years working to address a wide range of economic, social and environmental issues facing family farms and small towns. Mark is a regular columnist for farm and trade publications in the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada, appears regularly on radio and T.V. worldwide, and has written numerous books and articles on sustainable agriculture and development.

Alvaro Rivera
Born and raised in Colombia, Alvaro is currently working with Latino Economic Development Center, a non profit organization that was founded by Latino leaders in all fields of community development who share the same mission: "To transform our community by creating economic opportunity for Latinos; " and the same vision: "A thriving multicultural enriched Latino leadership, culture and economic influence." Alvaro completed his Master's program at the U of MN and then worked for seven years with the Minnesota Food Association as a director for the New Immigrant Agriculture Project, where he previously served as a Latino/Hispanic Outreach worker. The NIAP is aimed at helping farmers return to their agrarian culture by teaching them the business of sustainable farming in Minnesota in the hopes that graduates of the program will be able to participate in farm programs that are available from the USDA and other government agencies, as well as private and non-profit organizations working on behalf of underserved and minority communities.

Ramona Robinson-O'Brien

Ramona currently works in public health research at the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, affiliated with Hennepin County Medical Center. She also works as a program associate assisting with the coordination of Renewing the Countryside’s farm-to-childcare and farm-to-school programming. Previously she was an Assistant Professor at the College of St. Benedict & St. John's University, teaching nutrition science and courses examining connections between the food system, environment, and human health. She has a PhD in Nutrition with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Minnesota.

William Rois
William is an "In home family practitioner" with Lac qui Parle county. He's managing the family's 400ac. certified organic farm of 20 years. These acres are now, 300 ac. in CRP (15 species planting with wetlands and trees)and 100 ac. rented out land. He grew up on the old style multi-animal conventional style farm. After college and a metropoliten experience of ten years, Bill returned and developed and managed a 1000 head cattle operation, 1000 farrow to finish hog setup, with 2000 acres supporting it. This operation was reduced to 500 acres after two years. He's now involved with the Western Mn. Workforce Council (WIA member),RDC(GIS advisory group), MOU, Ambush Environmental Learning Park and Heartland Organic Processing. None of Bill's efforts can be accomplished without his wife, Janet, seven children and families, and 47 foster children. These involvements bring together Bill's concern and interest in family and community as the future of agriculture.

Michael Russelle

Vernon Ruttan (1924 - 2008)

Molly Schaus
Molly is the Farm Director of the Minnesota Food Association's Big River Farm in Marine on St Croix. In this capacity she manages all of the farm operations including organic certification, record keeping, facility and equipment maintenance, annual operations budget, greenhouse production and employee supervision. Prior to her work at MFA she was employed at Gardens of Eagan in Northfield, MN, as well as at farms in South Dakota and Colorado.

Charles Schmidt
Charles is a lifetime farmer, operating a 320 acre grain farm in Blue Earth County. His primary crop is waxy corn and soybeans grown for tofu manufacturing. Charles is a graduate of the University's School of Agriculture and Mankato State University. He is an active conservationist and a member of the Winona Diocesan Catholic Rural Life Commission.

Greg Schweser
Greg is the associate director for local foods and sustainable agriculture with the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. He focuses on connecting agricultural and local food innovators in Greater Minnesota with University of Minnesota resources and expertise. His projects help drive community resiliency with focuses on issues like passive solar greenhouses, permaculture design, perennial agriculture and strengthening rural grocery stores.

Dave Serfling (1956 - 2006)

Lisa Smiley
Lisa is on the staff of the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at Iowa State University. She served on the Minnesota Grape Growers Association Board of Directors and was the director for their “Cold Climate Grape and Wine Conference”. Lisa also helped re-write the book, “Growing Grapes in Minnesota”. She and her husband own a farm and vineyard in Cannon Falls, MN.

Jim Stordahl (1955-2017)
Jim was an Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota and had a BS and MS in agronomy and ruminant nutrition from the University of Minnesota. Jim worked extensively with organic and conventional producers in finding sustainable practices on crop and livestock farms in East Polk and Clearwater Counties in northwest Minnesota. Jim was raised on a farm near McIntosh MN, where he and his family resided. They grazed sheep and maintained a small flock of chickens and a small apiary.

Deon Stuthman (1940-2010)
Deon was a professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota, where he led the oat breeding and genetics research project. He shifted some of the project emphasis to more sustainable agriculture related activities including the variety release of Pal, a semi-dwarf oat that is well-suited for companion cropping. He served on the Board of the American Oat Association, and was treasurer as well. He also served as President of the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). Deon grew up on mixed crop and livestock farms in northeastern Nebraska.

Mary M. Tacheny (1924-2023)
Sister Mary worked as a resource person, educational consultant, and activity coordinator on rural concerns for the Diocesan Rural Life directors and the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota. During ten of those years she served as a lobbyist for them. In the process she got to know, work with, and become an advocate for farmers and other rural people. One of Mary's interests was the practice of a more sustainable model of farming than the industrial model. Mary had masters degrees in American Literature and Educational Administration, and did post-graduate work in theology and ethics.

Aimee Talbot
Aimee grew up on a small hobby farm in northern Minnesota, cultivating her fascination with the natural world. She was also strongly drawn to the humanities through the many books that she devoured as a child, and she earned a B.A. in English and a minor in French at the University of Minnesota - Duluth in 2012. Her love of diversity, learning, and the natural world has steered her interdisciplinary education, and now she is a graduate student in Applied Plant Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

Mark Thell
Mark and his family operate a 230-acre beef and vegetable farm in Carlton County, which they purchased in 1987. Through direct market, roadside stand, and u-pick sales they are able to market most of their beef, sweet corn, chickens, eggs, raspberries, peas and barley themselves. All of the components of their operation are tied together as much as possible. They use rotational grazing practices with their 50-head herd of cows and calves. Mark serves on the Sustainable Farming Association Northeast Chapter Board of Directors, is Vice President of Carlton County Farmers Union, is President of Lake Superior Meats Cooperative, and also works off the farm.

Tony Thompson
Tony farms corn, soybeans and native plants for seeds on the Willow Lake Farm in Jackson and Cottonwood counties in southwest Minnesota. Tony has been the recipient of an Energy and Sustainable Agriculture grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and has hosted or cooperated in many agriculture or ecological projects. In 2003 the Willow Lake Farm hosted of over 1300 student days of research and education. Tony has made a commitment to making the Willow Lake Farm ecologically and economically sustainable while also providing a high quality agriculture product to the marketplace.

Okechukwu Ukaga
As a program director and extension professor, his "goal has been to create 'free spaces' and 'grounds for innovation and experimentation' that facilitate a richer and more vibrant reciprocal partnership between the University of Minnesota and the citizens of Minnesota based on the concept of empowering people to define and meet their own needs". Okey is Executive Director for the Northeast Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (NE RSDP) and a full Extension Professor.

Terry VanDerPol
Terry raises natural beef and replacement dairy heifers on her farm in Western Minnesota, marketing the meat with Pastures A'Plenty. She has a wide range of interest and expertise in diverse arenas such as: whole farm planning; on-farm research; sustainable livestock systems; and promotion of local food initiatives. Currently she is a staff member of the Western office of the Land Stewardship Project in Montevideo.

Bruce Vondracek
Bruce is the Assistant Unit Leader of the MN Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. His areas of research include stream quality, fish habitats and restoration, and biological indicators in aquatic ecosystems. Bruce is a member of the Monitoring Team funded by MISA.

Marcia Ward
Marcia is active in 4-H, Experiment for Rural Cooperation (SE RSDP), various state and local government committees. Marcia raises sheep on her small acreage and uses them to teach kids about animal agriculture. She is a Winona County Commissioner. "We as a society have an obligation to keep our land productive and protected for future generations"

Michael White
Michael is a Professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota. He holds a Research and teaching appointment at the University. His primary research interests are in the investigation of the cellular and molecular regulation of muscle growth and development in meat-producing animals, with a specific focus on the role of the Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGFs) and their Binding Proteins. He utilizes molecular biology methods in combination with cell culture and biochemistry to investigate the regulation of muscle growth in swine and other meat animals. He currently co-teaches two courses, one entitled "Principles of Animal Growth and Development" and the other entitled "Environment, Global Food Production and the Citizen." He is a strong believer in collaborative efforts and the resulting synergistic outcomes. He is serving his second term as a University Senator, and has served as the Chair of the COAFES Faculty Consultative Committee as well as on a number of other college, departmental and professional committees.

Jared Walhowe
Jared Walhowe serves as Program Coordinator for the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute and the Minnesota Food Charter Network. He focuses on promoting healthy food access by supporting communications for the statewide Network as well as sustainability efforts. Previously, Jared served as the Produce Specialist with The Food Group, where he coordinated Minnesota apple producers, residential fruit tree owners, gardeners, farmer’s markets, and volunteer gleaners in an effort to support Minnesota food shelves with increased access to fresh, healthy, and local foods. As a member of the MISA Board, he is committed to promoting collaborative efforts at the intersection of rural and urban communities that support local growers while increasing access to local foods for all Minnesotans.

Bill Wilcke (1954-2013)
Bill retired from the University of Minnesota where he was an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. His interests were in crop drying and storage, alternative energy sources, and sustainable agriculture. He had Extension programs on crop drying and storage and on produce cooling and storage; and conducted research on grain drying and storage. Bill was Co-Chair of the Leadership Team for the Extension faculty in the Crop Systems Specialization and was the Coordinator for Extension's Sustainable Agriculture Programs.

Aimee Witteman
Aimee Witteman is the Program Officer in the Environment Program at the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis. She was formerly the Executive Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, D.C. and was extensively involved in the 2008 Farm Bill reauthorization, working with an alliance of organizations to identify and promote policies that are equitable, encourage environmental stewardship, foster new markets, and increase access to healthy foods. She is a former W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow and has a master's of science in agriculture, food, environmental policy from Tufts University.

Dale Woodbeck
Dale has been General Manager of Lakewinds Food Co-op since 2010. Lakewinds is a consumer-owned grocery cooperative with stores in Minnetonka, Chanhassen and Richfield. We buy from many local, smaller scale producers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We also operate Lakewinds Organic Field Fund, a grant program for small scale farms that are certified organic or transitioning to organic. Lakewinds also operates our Maker to Market program in partnership with The Good Acre. Maker to Market provides commercial kitchen time, storage capacity, marketing efforts, and technical assistance for producers that want to sell at wholesale to the co-op.

Vince Xiong
Vince Xiong is a beginning farmer who is enrolled in the Minnesota Food Association’s Big River Farms Training Program. As a member of the Hmong American community, he is concerned about the steep rise in diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease as immigrants begin to adopt an American diet. He believes that practicing sustainability calls us to share knowledge and challenge barriers that hold people back from the goals of caring for our food, our physical health, and the health of the community.