Sustainable Agriculture Fellows
Every year since 2007, USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents have collaborated to support the Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program, providing a two-year educational experience in sustainable agriculture for four stellar Extension workers.
Troy Salzer, University of Minnesota Extension
Troy Salzer is an Agricultural Production Systems Extension Agent in Carlton County, Minnesota. Throughout his 17-year career as an extension agent, Troy has spent his time leading workshops, tutoring and mentoring producers, and sharing other farmers’ stories to demonstrate how science can be implemented on a farm, while striking a balance with stewardship, lifestyle, and profitability. He also works with community food system development, food hubs, and farm-to-school programs in his area. Troy has been involved in several SARE grants, including The Economic Comparisons of Raising Grass-fed Beef vs Grain Fed and How to Implement the Use of Cover Crops in a Short Season, and continued advisement on Farm Beginning’s. Troy is excited to be in the Fellows program because he has found that offering real life “farmer” stories to demonstrate a specific concept has a major impact on producers. He plans to use his Fellows experience to develop an advanced grazing workshop for Minnesota, as there are currently none available in the state.
Crystal Stewart, Cornell University Cooperative Extension
For over ten years, Crystal Stewart has worked with Cornell University Cooperative Extension. She currently serves as a Regional Vegetable Specialist in 17 counties, within the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program. Crystal primarily works with small, beginning, and organic vegetable operations, and most of her research has focused on integrated management of fertility, weed control and post-harvest handling in garlic production to maximize both profitability and environmental stewardship. She has also been involved in two other SARE grants related to building and expanding a local food cooperative. With a six-year background in agricultural education, Crystal plans to use her Fellows experience to reach an additional 1,000 growers through her sustainable agriculture programming over the next two years.
James “JJ” Jones, Oklahoma State University
James “JJ” Jones is an area Agricultural Economics Specialist serving 19 counties in Southeast Oklahoma. Since receiving his master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University, he has been involved with many different sustainable agriculture groups and projects, including the Oklahoma SARE Advisory Committee and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. JJ also obtained a SARE Producer Grant to research goat breeding in the summer to meet market demands. He plans to use his experience in the Fellows program to work with local county educators to offer educational programs and workshops for producers interested in alternative agricultural practices. He will also create multiple videos on sustainable agriculture production practices for the Oklahoma SARE YouTube channel.
Stacey Bealmear-Jones, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
Working as an Associate Extension Agent in Yuma County, Arizona, Stacey Belmear-Jones is passionate about improving access to locally grown food in her community. In order to reduce the number of food deserts in her county, she has worked tirelessly to establish community gardens and farmer’s markets that sell local produce. Stacy is currently collaborating with the Yuma County Health Department to start community gardens and conduct the city’s first Health Impact Assessment on community gardens. Since the Fellows program will help her learn more about evaluating sustainable agriculture, she will use her new skills to assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to these gardens as they grow. She will also teach students at the University of Arizona how to evaluate and improve their school’s garden.
Patrick Byers, University of Missouri Extension
For over six years, Patrick has been a regional horticulture specialist at the University of Missouri Extension where he provides a range of programming to commercial and home horticulture interests in 17 counties in Southwest Missouri. His areas of expertise include commercial and consumer fruit and vegetable production, food safety for small-scale horticultural producers and urban agricultural issues. His focus on projects in recent years has included outreach to Hmong farmers, sustainable practices for home gardeners, development of alternative fruit crops, international agricultural volunteer opportunities and participation in an active Master Gardener chapter. Patrick has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and a Master’s degree from the University of Arkansas, both in horticulture. He believes that his participation in the Fellows program will help him develop a more cohesive approach to sustainable agriculture in his current programming.
Yvette Goodiel, University of Florida Extension
Yvette has worked in Martin County, Fla., since December 2011 as the county’s Sustainability and Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator. Yvette provides educational programming to fertilizer and pesticide applicators and helps answer horticultural questions from commercial growers and landscapers. She trains and coordinates the Martin County Master Gardeners, a group of approximately 100 volunteers who offer gardening information and educational programs to the public. Through the Fellows program, she would like to learn how landowners can maintain their lands in profitable yet low-impact agricultural production. Yvette has a Bachelor’s degree from University of Miami and a Master’s degree from the University of Kansas.
Mark Hutchinson, University of Maine
Since 2000 Mark has been an Extension Professor at University of Maine, which is also his alma mater. He brings 30 years in education—where sustainability has been part of his teaching philosophy—to the program. Mark currently works with commercial vegetable and small fruit growers on production issues. His research and educational programming focus on soil health and the utilization of compost as a soil amendment for food production systems. Mark is a member of the Maine Compost Team and a director of the Maine Compost School. At the national level, he is active in the development of compost procedures and policy for large-animal mortality management. Mark also provides compost education to an international audience.
Susan Kerr, Washington State University
Susan Kerr works at Washington State University as the Northwest Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist. Much of her outreach is directed towards small ruminant producers, particularly regarding non-chemical means of parasite control. Prior to her current position, she worked as the director of rural Klickitat County Extension for 17 years. She holds degrees from Cornell University in Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine and a Doctorate in Education from Kansas State University. As a result of her time in the Fellows program, she would like to develop a sustainable livestock production curriculum.
Jennifer Blazek, University of Wisconsin Extension
As a University of Wisconsin Extension agent, Jennifer takes a non-traditional, holistic approach to sustainable agriculture. Currently working to build value-added and local food industries in Polk County, Jennifer hopes to expand educational programming to include production and local foods market development. She received a Master of Science from University of Wisconsin-Madison in Agroecology.
Tianna DuPont, Penn State University
Tianna is a sustainable agriculture educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension. Tianna’s extension programs focus on organic crop production, cover crops, soil health and educating new farmers in Northampton and Lehigh counties. She also organizes an annual intensive training on organic vegetable production for experienced certified organic growers. In 2012 she helped farmers to conserve resources and increase farm profitability using biodegradable mulches. Tianna has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from Whitman College of Washington and a Master of Science in Integrated Pest Management from the University of California at Davis.
Matt Palmer, Utah State University
For over 12 years, Matt has been an Agriculture Extension Agent in Sanpete County for Utah State University. He also manages a family farm that has transitioned from the commodity market to direct marketing of hay and beef. Matt’s educational efforts cover a wide range of topics including weed control with sheep and goats, oilseed crops for biodiesel, biological control of Tamarisk, and in-house chicken manure composting. Matt has conducted three Western-SARE funded projects on backyard chicken production and rangeland forage production.
Laura Anne Sanagorski, Ed. D., University of Florida
Laura is a University of Florida horticulture extension faculty member who has focused her career on increasing environmental sustainability and food security through improved agricultural and landscaping practices. She has written about sustainable agriculture for a number of publications including an article titled “Managing for Higher Yields,” featured in the Spring 2012 edition of Farming Matters. Laura received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Environmental Horticulture from the University of Florida, and a Doctorate in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications from Texas A&M University.
John Porter, West Virginia University
John is the Ag and Natural Resources Extension agent for West Virginia University in Kanawha County, home of the state capital, Charleston. His areas of concentration include developing opportunities for farming and agriculture in the city's urban area through community gardens and urban farms, and developing resources to encourage agricultural and horticultural literacy in the public education system. He also teaches many in public gardening and production classes, and through 4-H and other camps through the summer. He also gardeners to practice edible landscaping and encourages incorporating novel fruits and vegetables in the home garden and farm. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in botany from Marshall University and a Master of Science in horticulture from West Virginia University.
Maud Powell, Oregon State University
Maud Powell has worked as an instructor in Oregon State University’s Small Farms program for six years. She and her husband also own and operate a small, organic vegetable and seed farm in the Applegate Valley of Southwestern Oregon. In the Small Farms program, Powell’s work is focused on beginning farmer education and niche marketing for established growers. She helped to start two farmer networks in Southern Oregon, and is currently running trainings for agricultural professionals on starting farmer networks around the Pacific Northwest. In addition, Powell runs educational programs for established and beginning farmers in enterprise diversification, including winter produce, organic seed and grains.
Nathan Winter, University of Minnesota
Nathan Winter has been an Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota in McLeod and Meeker Counties for eight years. His areas of expertise include commodity crops and forages. He also has expertise in commercial and consumer fruit and vegetable production. In his work, Nathan focuses on providing education to producers and providing technical assistance with all areas of crop production. Nathan has been the co-leader for the University of Minnesota Extension Small Farms team and is in charge of the University of Minnesota Extension Small Farms Website. This website provides helpful information to small farms and sustainable producers. His leadership brought the Living on the Land Workshop to Minnesota and numerous other educational programs for small farms and sustainable farmers. He received a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a Master’s degree in agricultural education, respectively, from the University of Minnesota.
Lara Worden, North Carolina State University
Lara Worden has served as an area-specialized agriculture agent covering North Carolina's Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties since January 2005. Her responsibilities include working with livestock producers, horticulture producers, direct farm marketers, farmer entrepreneurs, business planning and alternative agriculture enterprises. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Animal Science from Michigan State University, and has a strong personal interest in farm business management, record keeping for farmers, livestock production/management and local foods.
Marlin Bates, University of Missouri
Marlin Bates has been a Horticulture Specialist with University of Missouri Extension for four years. In his work, Marlin focuses on increasing the local food supply by working with new and existing producers of specialty crops in and around the Kansas City Metropolitan area. He also works intensively with community and neighborhood groups interested in food production. Marlin leads several Master Gardener projects that are focused on demonstrating best practices in Midwest food production, including several summer-long youth gardening programs. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in greenhouse management and vegetable production, respectively, from Kansas State University.
Brad Burbaugh, University of Florida
Brad serves as the agricultural and natural resources agent for Duval County, Florida. His areas of expertise include forage management, direct marketing and small-scale poultry production. Brad is a former vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. He received a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree in public policy from the University of North Florida.
Aaron Esser, Washington State University
Aaron Esser is a Lincoln-Adams Area Extension Agronomist with Washington State University. His program is focused on assisting grower in the adaptation of minimum tillage and no-till systems and more intensive crop rotations that improve overall economic profitability. He grew up on a farm near Genesee, Idaho, and he received his Bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and Master’s degree in plant science at the University of Idaho.
Thomas R. Maloney, Cornell University
Tom Maloney is a Senior Extension Associate in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. He began his career as a Cooperative Extension Agent working in Cortland County New York. Tom then joined Cornell University, and since 1985 he has been responsible for Extension programs in human resource management, Hispanic workforce issues and agricultural labor policy.
Jack C. Boles, Jr., University of Arkansas
Jack began his career with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in 1987 as the agriculture agent for Independence County. He has since worked in a variety of positions during his time with Extension. Jack has spent the last 14 years as County Agent in Newton County. Jack left Newton County in November 2011 to become a member of Arkansas 4-H Faculty, overseeing the Arkansas 4-H ATV Safety Program. Jack is a lifelong resident or Arkansas. He was born in Little Rock and graduated high school in Cabot. He is a graduate of Arkansas State University having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Agriculture.
Lauren Hunter, University of Idaho
Lauren Hunter is the Crops Extension Educator for county and district-wide programming for University of Idaho’s Extension. Hunter has been with the University of Idaho since 2009. Her educational programs focus on sustainable and organic farming, with a focus on sustainable soil management. Hunter is a primary investigator and collaborator on a number of research projects in southern Idaho. These include dairy compost use for organic soil management, dairy compost soil mineralization, cover crop and green manure variety trials, developing an Idaho Cover Crop Calculator and geospatial water management. Her programs include a Hay and Cereal School, Small Farm Conference, Sustainable Soil Management Workshop, and Geospatial Technology Workshops. Before her time with the University of Idaho, Lauren worked as the Assistant Director of the Appalachian Center for Mountain Winegrowing with Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.
Suzanne Mills-Wasniak, Ohio State University
Suzanne Mills-Wasniak is an Ohio State University Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, in Montgomery County. Her current Extension specialization is sustainable agriculture with an emphasis on urban agriculture, small farms and local food systems. She is presently working with the City of Dayton on their “Welcome Dayton, Immigrant Friendly” initiative. Her Master’s degree is in Biological Sciences from Wright State University with a major concentration in Environmental Sciences. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Agriculture from Ohio State University with a major in Animal Science. Prior to Extension she was a licensed grade 7 through 12 science teacher, worked on a swine CAFO and was an elected local public official. She is still actively involved with the family farms.
Jim Ochterski, Cornell University
Jim Ochterski has been an Extension agent in the Finger Lakes region of New York for more than 15 years and currently leads the Agriculture Team at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County. Jim‘s academic background includes a BS in Cell Biology from the University of Rochester and a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan. Although Jim assists farms in many areas of production and sales, his areas of expertise include farm marketing, business development, sustainable farming and community relations. Jim lives in Farmington, NY, and serves on the Town of Farmington Agriculture Advisory Committee; he also volunteers at Sonnenberg Gardens, at the Finger Lakes Wine Center, and at various athletic events in the region.