Sustainable Agriculture Fellows' Biographies
Each year, four Extension agents are selected to participate in the SARE/NACAA Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program.
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.