Meet the Fellows

Every year since 2007, SARE has supported the Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program, providing a two-year educational experience in sustainable agriculture for four stellar Extension workers.


Ñawi K. Flores, Soil Health Institute

Ñawi is a Soil Health Educator at the Soil Health Institute and a passionate advocate of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (DEIJ) in the agricultural sector. With extensive experience developing and implementing technical support activities that engage Northeast and Southeast farmers, ranchers, First Nation, and BIPOC growers, Ñawi is eager to broaden his knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture by participating in the SARE Fellows program. Ñawi’s experiences include leading multiple collaboration projects aimed at improving soil health, reducing environmental impacts, and enhancing the livelihoods of urban and rural communities. Through participating in the SARE Fellows program, Ñawi hopes to gain valuable insights, resources, and connections to strengthen sustainable agriculture programs, benefiting agricultural professionals and underserved clientele in the Northeast and Southeast. In addition, he is committed to advancing DEIJ within the agriculture industry and mentoring emerging BIPOC regional agricultural professionals to create a more equitable and just agroecosystem.

Molly Sowash, Rural Action

Molly understands that local, sustainable agriculture is the answer to many pressing issues that we face as a global community today. As Sustainable Agriculture Director for Rural Action and as a beginning farmer, she works from 9-5 supporting farmers in Appalachian Ohio to launch and sustain their farm businesses and from 5-9 raising grass-fed beef and pastured pork at her and her husband's operation, MoSo Farm. Since joining Rural Action in 2019, Sowash has grown their Whole Farm Project which supports small, diversified producers through providing wraparound support, including access to capital, land, mentorship, professional services, site visits, and management plans. On her farm she practices regenerative methods such as management-intensive grazing and silvopasture. Through participating in the SARE Fellows program Sowash hopes to expand her literacy of sustainable agriculture practices and improve her outreach to fellow farmers as a peer educator. She plans to bring her learning back to her team to replicate a “reading the farm” approach in Rural Action’s work.

Dr. Trey Malone, University of Arkansas

Dr. Malone is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. His research focuses on the intersection of agricultural economics and sustainable food systems, leading to more than 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals. His past activities include researching sustainable agriculture practices and presenting his research at conferences and workshops. As an extension economist, he also has experience working with local farmers and agricultural professionals to develop and implement sustainable agriculture programs.

Participating in the SARE Fellows Program will allow Dr. Malone to enhance his understanding of sustainable agriculture through immersive education and build professional relationships with other agricultural professionals. He hopes this experience will enable him to develop more effective and targeted outreach programs to better serve his local agricultural community while strengthening his leadership and technology transfer skills in sustainable agriculture.

Daniel Elisara Helsham, American Samoa Community College

Daniel is a Media Specialist at the American Samoa Community College – Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources Division. For the past ten years, he has served the people of American Samoa by developing media and communications strategies to raise awareness of, promote, and educate the community on the importance of agriculture and natural resources. By participating in the SARE Fellows Program, he aims to improve his professional skills, connect with other agricultural professionals, and collaborate on addressing issues in sustainable agriculture. In the end, he also hopes to increase his knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture practices to help improve food security in American Samoa by developing outreach programs and resources that will focus on increasing local food production and decreasing the reliance on imported food items.


Romina Gazis, University of Florida

Romina Gazis is an Extension Specialist in Southern Florida. She runs a variety of educational programs aimed at helping clients increase production and improve sustainability. She hopes that participating in the SARE Fellowship program will help to broaden her pool of knowledge so that she will be able to better help her clients. Romina is excited to integrate the knowledge that she gains into her educational programs and assist her clients in adopting more sustainable practices.

Gabrielle Rodriguez

Gabrielle Rodriguez worked at the sustainable agriculture science center at New Mexico State University for two and half years. In this position she worked with American Indian populations involved in agricultural production. Currently, she teaches middle school science and Agriculture in Northern New Mexico. By working with the SARE Fellowship program, she hopes to bring sustainable agriculture strategies back to her community so that she can teach them how to better manage their crops. 

Marissa Schuh, University of Minnesota

Marissa Schuh is a horticulture Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Extension Educator with University of Minnesota Extension. In this role, she works with produce growers, horticulture professionals, and gardeners to troubleshoot issues, as well as develop relevant, timely educational content and programming. She has experience working with specialty crop growers on insect, disease, nutritional, weed, food safety, and regulatory issues. Through the fellows program, she hopes to better integrate both whole-farm and sustainable agriculture considerations into her technical assistance and teaching related to IPM.

Thomas Wheet, Daily Harvest

Thomas Wheet has a background in controlled environment agriculture, urban farming, and localized food systems both in the for-profit and public sectors. He currently works as the Senior Sustainability Associate at Daily Harvest--an innovative food/tech startup working directly with growers to build a more sustainable agricultural system by increasing organic/regenerative crop production.

Thomas hopes that by participating in the SARE Fellows program, he can learn more about sustainable farming best practices to better understand how companies can support growers, policymakers, and consumers committed to making our agricultural system better for people and the planet.


Tom Buller, Kansas Rural Center

Tom has a strong passion for sustainable agriculture. His interest began in graduate school at the University of Minnesota where he pursued a minor in sustainable agriculture. Following graduate school, he received a SARE Farmer/Rancher grant to study several no-till organic methods to produce sweet potatoes (FNC16-1029). His research for the grant coincided with specialty crop education and outreach that he was doing for the Kansas Rural Center, for which he now serves as the Executive Director. By participating in the Fellows program, Buller hopes to achieve two goals. The first goal is to add richness and breadth to his educational programming in order to help producers in his region increase production and improve sustainability. The second goal is to incorporate what he learns through the Fellows program into his work with regional partners, thereby expanding the local networks’ understanding of sustainability and its role in building local food systems.

Tipton D. Hudson, Washington State University

Tipton D. Hudson has spent the last twenty years promoting sustainable agriculture: two years advocating for ranchers and the next eighteen years pushing the art and science of sound rangeland management. In his eighteen years as an Extension range and livestock specialist, Hudson has taught regenerative rangeland grazing principles and practices, riparian management for stream function and water quality, ecosystem monitoring for adaptive management, and intensive irrigated pastured beef and sheep production. Most recently, he has begun promoting these concepts nationally and internationally through a state-of-the-art, first-of-its-kind podcast in partnership with the Society of Range Management: the “Art of Range.” Hudson is currently engaged in several projects into which he plans to integrate Fellows program learning. Hudson recently produced short film documentaries, with funding from the USDA Climate Hubs, that showcase ranchers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon who manage rangelands and dry forest types for high resilience to climate uncertainty. Hudson plans to promote sustainable agricultural principles learned in the Fellows program through the outreach phase of this project, which will be 2019–2021.

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Extension

Dan Severson has been an agriculture Extension agent serving New Castle County, Delaware, for the past five years. Severson has broad experience with SARE programs and grants. His first SARE grant focused on estate planning and farm succession, and his second grant was used to develop a workshop geared towards beginning farmers interested in small fruit and vegetable production. He has extensive experience in assisting, setting up and participating in workshops and lectures. He also serves as the secretary of the New Castle County Soil Conservation District board of directors. Severson plans to use the Fellows program information to bring Reading the Farm back to Delaware so he can better assist his producers and train his Extension colleagues on how to “read a farm.” He also plans to use what he learns through the Fellows program to promote SARE programs that are offered and to provide examples from across the United States.

Dr. Mary Love Tagert, Mississippi State University Extension

As an assistant Extension professor, Dr. Mary Love Tagert’s research and Extension efforts have focused on the environmental stewardship component of sustainable agriculture. She has served as a PI or co-PI on projects funded by USDA-NIFA (surface water storage and tailwater recovery), USDA-FAS (irrigation and drainage) and the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board (surface water storage and tailwater recovery; using sensors to understand in-field soil moisture variability). She has also given numerous presentations at the county level and through field days on topics related to the use of high tunnels, irrigation in high tunnels, small-scale irrigation for forage producers, and the use of soil moisture sensors for irrigation. Dr. Tagert has referenced Extension publications from other states when asked questions about small-scale irrigation in high tunnels and forages, but she would like to develop a new Extension program that is more specific to small agricultural operations in Mississippi. She plans to form a new statewide Extension program on sustainable agricultural practices for small-scale agricultural systems using the knowledge gained from the Fellows program.


Jessica A. Kelton, Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Jessica Kelton serves as an Alabama Cooperative Extension System regional extension agent. Throughout her career, Kelton has developed an understanding of the benefits of sustainable agriculture from a production perspective. The Auburn University graduate's experience in conservation system research and IPM weed management practices yielded a better understanding of how sustainable agriculture promotes successful, profitable crop production. Kelton has also explored how to illustrate profit trends to stimulate producers' interest in sustainable practices. Kelton hopes to explore how sustainable practices have been successfully implemented in other regions of the country and to facilitate adoption of appropriate practices in Alabama.

Kathleen Painter, University of Idaho Extension

As an agricultural extension educator for the University of Idaho, Kathleen Painter works broadly in the areas of commercial and small-scale agriculture. Painter has been interested in sustainable agriculture for most of her professional life. For her dissertation research, Painter studied the economic and environmental trade-offs of conventional and alternative agricultural systems in the inland Pacific Northwest and the North Carolina Coastal Plain. As part of her master’s thesis, she conducted a mail survey of farm women in Yakima County to study their choices and motivations when working both on and off the farm. For several years, Painter worked as an agricultural economist at Washington State University and at the University of Idaho, participating in several large organic grant projects and two large climate projects in the area of costs and returns analysis. Through the Fellows program, Painter hopes to learn from other experienced educators and farmers and use her skills as an agricultural economist to adapt and implement sustainable practices in Idaho.

Nicole Santangelo, Penn State Extension

Nicole Santangelo is an extension educator for the Penn State Extension Field and Forage Crops Team. Prior to joining Penn State Extension, she worked briefly with Cornell Cooperative Extension to assist in the development and implementation of numerous youth summer programs exploring careers in agriculture and reviewing best management practices carried out on dairy farms in Western New York. In college, she worked for numerous dairy farms (including a 200-cow robotic dairy) and at Alfred State’s Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture. With Penn State Extension, Santangelo conducted programming in alternative forage production and manure management, worked with on-farm cover crop research and assisted on-farm demonstration plots of the Penn State Cover Crop Interseeder and Applicator. She has also been involved in the coordination and delivery of the 21 Manure Management Education and Cover Crop Use program. By furthering her education in sustainable agriculture through the SARE Fellows program, Santangelo plans to incorporate sustainable practices used across the country into current programming and research occurring in northern Pennsylvania.

Claire Strader, University of Wisconsin Extension

Claire Strader has worked as a small-scale and organic produce educator for the University of Wisconsin (UW) Extension in Dane County since 2013. Before joining UW Extension, Strader worked as an organic vegetable farmer in New Hampshire and California. She was also an owner/partner on an established organic vegetable farm in Wisconsin before being hired to start Troy Community Farm. At Troy Community Farm, she sold organic produce, herbs, sprouts and bedding plants through a 150-member CSA, onsite sales and local grocery accounts. Strader also established an internship program, teaching interns through formal classes, weekly field classes, weekly field walks, field trips and field work. Her responsibilities at UW Extension include on-farm trials focused on cover crops and no-till techniques for organic vegetable farmers, four of which have been funded through SARE Partnership grants. Strader is working with farmers, Extension colleagues, and the WI Department of Workforce Development to establish the first registered Organic Vegetable Farm Manager Apprenticeship in the county. Strader plans to use her experience with the Fellows program to inform and expand her work with organic vegetable farmers to explore no-till and reduced-tillage techniques and farm labor solutions.


Anthony Bly, South Dakota State University Extension

As a soils specialist, much of Anthony Bly’s programming as a SDSU Extension field specialist involves soil health. In partnership with USDA-NRCS, SARE, the South Dakota No-till Association and the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, Bly worked with other colleagues in planning and hosting nine “South Dakota Soil Health Challenge” meetings, 10 soil health and cover crop field events, a cover crop conference, and a soil health school. Attendance at these events demonstrated a dire need for cutting-edge soil health information in South Dakota. Bly has also served as an instructor of the soil health session component for Integrated Pest Management Field Schools and Short Courses, responding to a wide range of questions about soil health. Bly designs and conducts on-farm research experiments, writes articles to share findings that bring awareness to soil health issues, and participates on radio programming. He believes the experiences gained in the SARE Fellows Program will provide him with new knowledge and an improved capacity to lead cropping systems in South Dakota and the region toward greater sustainability and food security.

Kurt Jones, Colorado State University Extension

Kurt Jones has been a county extension agent for nearly 20 years. His programming areas emphasize agriculture, natural management, home horticulture, clean and renewable energy, and 4-H youth development. Jones has served as a leader not only in his state association, Colorado County Agents Association, but also in NACAA through several leadership roles including Extension development council chair, communications committee vice chair, 4-H committee vice chair, and national chair. Last fall, Jones initiated a pilot project to teach local beekeepers more advanced beekeeping concepts and “soft-skills” to aid in mentoring novice beekeepers. Jones hopes to use his Fellows experience to strengthen his own beekeeping skills, support the professional and hobby beekeepers in Colorado's Chafee County and aid his work with beginning farmers.

FNU Naveen Kumar, University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension

Naveen Kumar recently joined the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) as an assistant professor of horticulture and as an extension specialist. He joined UMES Extension after earning his masters, doctorate and postdoc in stress physiology. Kumar’s academic experience has prepared him to cultivate plants using limited resources. He has worked on multiple crops and evaluated their survival during abiotic and biotic stresses to provide sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions to address these farming challenges. Kumar works on multiple aspects of green agriculture including phosphorus phytoremediation, nanotechnology for sustainable agriculture, promotion of local food for local people and rejuvenation of the lost fruit industry on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He is also promoting the cultivation of strawberries to diversify crop cultivation beyond dominant row crops. Kumar hopes the Fellows program will help him to understand problems inherent to the Eastern Shore region and to facilitate communication with regional growers, farmers and educators to further strengthen his research and extension program.

Amanda Sears, University of Kentucky Extension Service

Amanda Sears has been with the University of Kentucky Extension Service for more than 11 years. She currently serves as the Madison County horticulture agent after working for several years as an Extension associate at the University of Kentucky research farm. As the horticulture agent, she serves a diverse population and utilizes the principles of sustainability in many ways. Her areas of interest include fruit and vegetable production and entomology, although she also assists clients with information and helps with lawns and shrubs, and animal control. For commercial producers, Sears primarily offers diagnostic assistance and training. Upon completion of the Fellows program, Sears hopes to become an advocate for sustainability in the state of Kentucky. She would like to work with the sustainability chair of the Kentucky Association of County Agricultural Agents (KACAA) in assessing the needs of the state while disseminating currently available information and educational materials.


Laura M. Miller, County Extension Agent-Commercial Horticulture

Laura Miller serves as a Texas A&M AgriLife Commercial Horticulture Extension agent in Tarrant County. After graduating from Texas A&M with degrees in horticulture and agricultural education, Miller worked with schools and land trusts before accepting a job as a horticulture Extension agent with the University of Florida/IFAS in 2001. Miller was happy to return to her home state of Texas in 2008 to broaden her experiences in landscape management and urban agricultural production. Miller collaborates with the North Central Texas Farmers Market Association (NCTFMA) to provide a variety of educational programs for regional farmers. In 2014 and 2015, Miller worked with growers and a statewide team to increase strawberry production. Using funding from the Wal-Mart Foundation, they provided plants for variety trials and developed a Texas Strawberry Production Guide. In May 2015, Miller collaborated with colleagues to coordinate a program dedicated to strengthening women’s roles in modern farm and ranch enterprises. Miller welcomes the opportunity to participate in the SARE Fellows program to learn more about environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable agriculture. As a member of the statewide Small Acreage Horticultural Crops planning team, she plans to share lessons learned with other agents in Texas using webinars on a variety of topics.

Michael O'Donnell, Purdue Extension

Michael O’Donnell has served as a Purdue Extension educator in Delaware County, Indiana, for nearly four years. O’Donnell’s interest in sustainable agriculture developed while attending the University of Texas at Austin and participating in an interdisciplinary research group focused on the intersection of sustainable energy technology and policy. While studying the life cycles of commodity crops and examining land use, water consumption, emissions and greenhouse gas emissions, he became concerned about the sustainability of these systems. Upon completion of his degree, O’Donnell returned to Indiana to work as a farm assistant on a family owned, vertically integrated, diversified livestock and grain farm, and eventually moved to a family farm in Delaware County. O’Donnell hopes to use his experiences in the SARE Fellows program to develop his knowledge of sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and in turn share this knowledge with Extension professionals, farmers and other stakeholders in Indiana agriculture.

Olivia Saunders, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

Olivia Saunders is a University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension field specialist with a passion for cover crops. She joined the Extension system in 2013 after working on a number of diversified farms throughout New England, and serves as the Carroll County field specialist. Saunders is a board member with the New Hampshire Association of County Agriculture Agents, serves on the strategy team of the New Hampshire Food Alliance and participated as an invited delegate at two New England Food Summits. Saunders serves as the vice president of her county Farm Bureau chapter and is a member of the New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference steering committee. As a member of the UNH Fruit and Vegetable Team, she has developed research programs and trials, including a SARE-funded partnership grant focused on weed control in lowbush blueberries. She plans to apply the training she receives through the SARE Fellows to develop programming for producers in New Hampshire and the surrounding states to help them “read the farm” and adopt a whole-farm approach to sustainability.

Seth Swanson, Montana State University Extension

Seth Swanson has been a Montana State University Horticulture Extension agent in Missoula County for nearly five years. In this time, he has worked with producers, nonprofits, and various other agencies and stakeholders to develop comprehensive resources for beginning farmers. Through a partnership with the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition (CFAC), he has developed a curriculum and workshops to guide beginning farmers through the process of business planning. In addition to Swanson’s work developing beginning farmer resources, he has initiated some on-farm research trials to investigate opportunities for regional specialty crop producers. Through a Specialty Crop Block Grant, Swanson is investigating methods regional strawberry growers can use to increase production. His role as a board member of the Montana Organic Association helps him stay in tune with some of the greater challenges faced by Montana’s organic farmers. Swanson views the SARE/NACAA Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program as a valuable opportunity to strengthen his understanding of sustainable agriculture, to network with leaders in agricultural research and education, and be exposed to new ideas.


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.

Watch the video below of Marlin as he describes his experience in the program.

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.

Read about Hunter's Fellows experience in her own words.

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.

Read about Mills-Wasniak's Fellows experience in her own words.

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.