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MOA Board Nominations


MOA's 16th Annual Conference and Member Meeting
December 6-8, 2018, Mansfield Center, Great Falls, Montana

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Jess Alger
, MOA Board Member, graduated from MSU in 1971 with a B.S. degree in Animal Science. He returned to the Alger family ranch near Stanford where he worked for his Dad until 1981, after which he bought the place. He first certified his cropland in 2000 and his cattle were certified organic in 2007. The entire operation is 100% certified organic. He raised purple barley, lentils, KAMUT® wheat, millet, and cover crop. Next year he will calve 50 Red Angus cross cows and have 30 yearlings to fatten up. Jess has 260 acres of sainfoin and over 600 acres of pasture. He grazes smaller pastures and moves the cattle every few days except at summer pasture for the pairs. He sells his crops to Timeless Seed, Montana Milling, Montana Flour and Grain, and the National Farmers Organization. Jess is a long-time MOA board member, a member of Montana Organic Production CO-OP, selling organic grass-fed yearlings and the National Farmers Organization, a collective bargaining organization for producers.

Jim Auer - While a couple of generations removed from the family farm, Jim found his way to the Department of Agriculture in January 2015 managing the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. In 2016, Jim took the lead on creating and overseeing the Department’s mediation program. Since working to build the program, Jim has completed his basic mediation and has been an active member of the Coalition of Agriculture Mediation Programs (CAMP). Prior to entering into state government, Jim spent two years working with cut flower peony growers in Alaska examining the economics of selling late season flowers to international markets.

Casey Bailey is an organic farmer and rancher from Fort Benton. He has never missed a summer of work on his family’s farm since elementary school. He studied music at the University of Montana and drove back and forth to Missoula on weekends while in school. He transitioned 50 acres to organic when he contracted to grow French green lentils for Timeless Foods. Bailey grows perennial alfalfa in response to weed and fertility issues; it has deep taproots that aerate and out compete perennial noxious weeds (or at least give them a run for their money) as well as provide a slow release nitrogen. His first 50 organic acres was his “aha” moment. The winter wheat from it yielded better than his conventional winter wheat, was weed and disease free, and had higher protein. He now has alfalfa growing on at least 1000 acres at all times. He frequently seeds it at the same time as cash crops like barley so then it comes up after harvest and serves as a cover crop living root going into the next winter. The alfalfa is hayed for 2 years, then incorporated at bloom the following year in order to feed the next crop like winter wheat, spelt, spring wheat, emmer, oats, or whatever.

Jim Barngrover is a co-founder of Timeless Seeds and serves as Manager of Grower Contracting and Crop Procurement. Jim grew up on an irrigated farm in northern Wyoming. He has over four decades of experience in organic farming, gardening and marketing. Barngrover’s principal responsibilities for Timeless Seeds is to have his “pulse” on the weather, soil conditions, timing of field operations and harvesting of crops from about four dozen organic contracted Montana pulse crop growers. As a lobbyist for the Alternative Energy Resources Organization at the Montana legislature, Jim was instrumental in the passage of the Montana Organic Definition Act, 1989, and the establishment of a Weed Ecologist position at Montana State University in 1991. A founding board member of Helena Community Gardens, Jim has focused on the organization’s mission of developing gardens within walking distance of every neighborhood in Helena.

David Baumbauer has been kicking around greenhouses and nurseries for over 35 years, and has degrees in forestry from Purdue (BSF) and University of Montana (MSF). Since 1987, David has managed the Plant Growth Center at Montana State University. He also teaches Commercial Plant Production and Market Gardening courses for the Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology department and manages the MSU Horticulture farm. In January of 2015, he suffered a mid-life crisis and started a PhD program with Dr. Mac Burgess investigating cool season vegetable production in high tunnels. He hopes to graduate before retirement.

Dr. Eric Belasco is an associate professor of Agricultural Economics and a research fellow at the Initiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis, both at Montana State University. He has received numerous research awards and has published over 30 peer-reviewed journal articles in the areas of crop insurance, farm policy, risk management and livestock marketing. Currently, he teaches courses at Montana State University in agribusiness management and financial engineering. He has made speaking and extension presentations and workshops throughout the state of Montana to speak to producer and commodity groups and was recently awarded, along with colleagues in his department, the Outstanding Extension Program Award by the Western Agricultural Economics Association.

Chandee Bomgardner is the Owner of Bomgardner Catering, specializing in local and organic catering. Chandee and her team provide outstanding service for memorable events, both large and small. From a buffet reception with specialty cheese selection to Missouri River bank picnics, Chandee’s delicious food brings people together. Her thoughtfulness, creativity, professionalism, and careful planning take the worries out of your next event. Bomgardner Catering provides freezer meals to make hectic times, including harvest dinners, a whole lot easier and healthier. Bomgardner Catering, Loma, MT, (406) 788-7246.

Dr. Darrin Boss received two Bachelor’s degrees from Ohio State University; Zoology (Wildlife Ecology) and Animal Science (Animal Nutrition). He then attended Montana State University where he earned his Master’s degree in Animal Science, specializing in Ruminant Nutrition. He was employed at NARC in 1994 as a Research Associate, managing all day-to-day activities of the beef cattle herd, including collecting research data. He earned his PhD from MSU conducting research on annual forages. Shortly after completing his PhD he was hired into a faculty position and later was promoted to Superintendent. Current research interests include: beef cattle breeding projects exploring maternal efficiency on the mixed grass prairie, establishing correlations with individual intakes and long term reproduction; novel and alternative feedstuffs for inclusion in pre and post-weaning beef cattle diets; and investigating how to assimilate cover crops into crop-fallow environments by integrating livestock or haying practices to increase soil health and to increase profitability of the agricultural operations.

Eric Bergman, along with his wife, Audra, founded and operate Groundworks Farm in Fort Shaw, Montana. Groundworks grows certified organic vegetables and grass fed beef. Eric also offers organizing and development services for cooperatives and community food system efforts.
Wayne Burleson has Masters Degree in Rangeland Science. He completed 20 trips to nine Third World countries teaching organic growing methods. He published a book and DVD on these methods. They include sample results from carbon loading soils that produced 50 nice size carrots in one square foot. He has made presentations at Mother Earth Fairs and a large Expo with Baker Creek Heirloom in Santa Rosa. He was awarded the Volunteer of the Year for CNFA Farmer to Farmer.

Patrick Carr, PhD has conducted research on organic farming methods for 20+ years. He was at North Dakota State University from 1989 through 2015 and returned to MSU in 2016. The research center presently has roughly 25 acres undergoing organic certification and will begin organic farming research (finally!) in 2019.

Rick Caquelin has spent the past 30 years with his wife, raising kids, working for NRCS across Montana. He also has a cow/calf operation in Stanford, Montana.

Alyssa Charney is a Senior Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) in Washington, DC. She leads the coalition’s work on federal conservation policy as well as the annual appropriations process and organic agriculture. She holds an M.S. in Agriculture and Food Policy and an M.P.H from Tufts University, as well as a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Vassar College. Alyssa served as a FoodCorps member in Red Lodge, Montana, for two years and has worked on food and agriculture policy at the Center for Rural Affairs, New England Farmers Union, and the National Farm to School Network.

Dr. Chengci Chen is the Professor of Agronomy and Superintendent of the Eastern Agricultural Research Center. He has served as the President of the Western Society of Crop Science, and Chair of the Agronomic Production Systems of American Society of Agronomy. His Research interest includes pulse crops (pea, lentil, and chickpea) variety selection and testing. System development and management strategies for including specialty crops, such as dry peas, forage and energy crops, in dryland cereal grain rotations and crop-livestock systems; cropping systems for cellulosic and oilseed bioenergy feedstock productions; and nutrient management, water quality and water use efficiency. Currently, he is also working on cereal and sugar beets at the Eastern Agricultural Research Center in Sidney, Montana.

Jill Clapperton is an internationally recognised lecturer on how to create and manage the long-term health and productivity of soils. Jill was the Rhizosphere Ecologist at Agriculture and Agri Food Canada Lethbridge Research Centre studying the interaction between soils, plants and soil organisms. She also developed and implemented the Worm Watch program for Environment Canada. After moving to the USA with her family, Jill founded Rhizoterra Inc. a consulting company that connects nutrient density in food with healthy soil. Rhizoterra Inc. is a purveyor of information and independent research that supports food growers and consumers around the world in making informed decisions based on science.

Jacob Cowgill and his wife Courtney own and operate Prairie Heritage Farm, a certified organic, diversified farm near Power, Montana, on the short-grass prairie where the Rocky Mountains meet the plains. They grow a variety of crops, including heritage and ancient grains. They’ve recently added a micro-bakery called Blue Truck Bread, where Jacob is milling flour and baking sourdough bread. Over the past 10 years, Jacob has been trialing many different varieties of ancient and heritage wheat and barley. The trials have migrated from the field to the bakery and opened the door to the notion of terroir, or taste of place.

Doug Crabtree, MOA Chairman, and his wife Anna Jones-Crabtree own and operate Vilicus Farms, a 8,700-acre certified organic dry-land farm in northern Hill County, growing 12 to 15 grain, pulse, broadleaf, and oilseed crops annually. Having started the farm “from scratch,” they share a passion for beginning farmers. Prior to launching the farm, Doug managed the State of Montana’s Organic Certification Program. Growing up on a conventional managed farm in Ohio, Doug never imagined he’d be anything else than a farmer. Doug and Anna established a mentoring apprenticeship program to actively engage new farmers in growing organically, giving them hands on skills needed to farm successfully. Doug also sits on the Organic Trade Association Board.

Jennifer Dees has worked for Northwest Farm Credit Services for over 12 years in a variety of roles, from lending to crop insurance. She has been a crop insurance agent for the past 4 years. Dees also runs a small grain and pulse crop operation with her husband in Kremlin. Through her role as crop insurance agent, she has had the opportunity to work with many organic producers and help them utilize crop insurance to protect their operations.

Heather Estrada, PhD, MOA Treasurer, received her PhD in Plant Science while studying in the wheat breeding program at the University of Alberta and is an Associate Professor and the Agriculture program director at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana. She teaches a range of classes in plant and soil science, agronomy, and food systems, and oversees the operation of the Campus Farm. Her background and interest in wheat have led to the development of an emerging small grains program at the College, where students learn about breeding, cultivation, milling, baking, distributing, and eating grain-based food.

Brianna Ewert is the Cooperative Development Center Director for Lake County Community Development, a nonprofit organization that has helped establish several cooperatives to develop the regional food and agricultural economy, including the Western Montana Growers Cooperative, the Montana Poultry Growers Cooperative and poultry processing facility, and Triple Divide Organic Seed Cooperative. Trained as a Cooperative Development Specialist through Cooperation Works!, Brianna assists groups organizing cooperative businesses to meet the needs of their rural communities. With her partner, Brianna also runs a certified organic farm producing vegetables, vegetable seed, and industrial hemp.

Mason Gordon is an Agronomist/PCC, and Manager in Washington State, for Soilcraft, Inc. The company works as independent consultants for both organic and conventional crops, as well as distributes products for 45+ Companies. Over the years they have continued to study and research, to keep up with the latest technology, chemistry, and biology. They specialize in the subjects of soil biology, plant nutrition, and how they relate to crop quality, health and production. They have worked over the years to research and trial many different products to find ones that are of the highest quality, and efficacy, for the different crops and soils.

Neva Hassanein is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana. Author of Changing the Way America Farms (University of Nebraska Press, 1999), Neva has also published articles agricultural policy and on sustainable, democratic food systems. An activist scholar, Neva and her students have been involved in many efforts to strengthen Montana’s food system through civic engagement and community-based action research – covering a range of topics, such as farmland protection, institutional markets, and regional food distribution. Neva co-founded the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition of Missoula County, and was a founding partner in Grow Montana, a statewide policy coalition. In 2011, she served as President of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society, an international organization of scholars and practitioners. Neva enjoys gardening, sharing food with friends, hunting wild mushrooms, and exploring the natural world.

Bonnie Hawthorne is the director, cinematographer, editor, writer and narrator of “Dreaming of a Vetter World.” As a film student at NYU in the 1980s, her documentary film teacher said there would come a day when one woman could go AWOL from her day job cutting television shows, take off in a tiny camper, and make a film with cameras small enough to fit in a purse. That day finally arrived. This film, her first, is the result.

Lee-Ann Hill is Special Programs Director of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance and oversees the Rocky Mountain Heritage Grain Trials program. Lee-Ann holds an MA in Cultural Ecology from Prescott College. She presented a paper on RMSA’s grain trials this past summer at the First International Conference of Wheat Landraces in Bologna, Italy. She currently resides in southwest Colorado where she farms at Laughing Wolf Farm.

Tammy Howard works as a Sustainable Agricultural Specialist with National Center for Appropriate Technology, emphasizing farmers market nutrition programs, beginning farm business planning, market gardening, and other horticultural topics. She works extensively setting up farmers market SNAP programs in Montana and with beginning farmers throughout the country providing technical assistance on business planning, marketing, and goal setting.

Kiki Hubbard is the director of advocacy and communications for Organic Seed Alliance. Kiki has worked on seed policy issues in the areas of antitrust, biotechnology, intellectual property, and organic regulation for 15 years. She currently leads efforts to promote policies and actions that support organic seed systems, including managing OSA’s State of Organic Seed project. Kiki lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and son.

Darrold Hutchinson and his wife Mary have just finished their seventh year as certified organic farmers. They farm 1,600 acres of small grains, eighteen miles north of Hingham, Montana. Darrold’s professional education background is in Vocational Agriculture Education from the University of Wyoming, Laramie. Darrold spent 25 years in the aerial spray business solving weed problems along with other plant pest problems. Understanding the plant, the plant culture along with environmental factors, can help us in the organic control of weed problems. Darrold is looking forward to visiting with you.

Cort Jensen was born in Circle, Montana, and obtained his Bachelor’s degrees (Psychology, Political Science, History) from Concordia College (MN). He obtained his JD from University of Montana Law School. Prior to working for the Department of Agriculture, Cort was the chief consumer attorney for the State of Montana in both the Department of Administration and Department of Justice. He is the former president of the Public Law Section of the State Bar and serves on the Bar’s Technology Committee. He currently is an adjunct professor at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law teaching Agricultural Law.

Stephen Jones has a PhD in Genetics/Molecular Cytogenetics. He is a wheat breeder and Professor at Washington State University and is the founder of the Bread Lab in Skagit Valley, north of Seattle. In 2018, Stephen was awarded the Clif Bar and King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation. Training PhD Students is critical to the mission of the lab and over 40 graduate students have completed their degrees through his program.

Anna Jones-Crabtree, PhD, is an owner/farmer of Vilicus Farms and Executive Director of Vilicus Training Institute. Vilicus Farms is a 7400 acre, first generation, organic, dryland crop farm in Northern Hill County, Montana. Owned and operated by Anna and her husband, Doug Crabtree, Vilicus Farms grows a diverse array of organic heirloom and specialty grain, pulse, oilseed and broadleaf crops under five and seven-year rotations. Vilicus Training Institute is a non-profit project of the farm with the purpose of bringing the next generation of land stewards to the Northern Great Plains through formal apprenticeships. Anna is a Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow and a recipient of the White House Greening Government Sustainability Hero Award. She holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a minor in Sustainable Systems from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Nikos Kavanya comes from a long lineage of farmers and has always had dirt under her fingernails: as an herbalist, as a market grower, and as the seed maven of Fedco Seeds, where she has worked for four decades during many changes in the seed marketplace.

Joseph Kibiwott obtained a BS in soil and water science from the University of Florida. Between 2013 and 2015, he worked at the University of Illinois and USDA_ARS laboratories in Urbana, IL as a research technician. There, he evaluated the Optimum Plant Population Density in Sh2 Processing Sweet Corn for On-Farm Production. Joseph has been working on his MS research project with a focus on soil fertility in organic systems at MSU in Bozeman. In 2018, Joseph joined Timeless Seeds Inc. as an agronomist and grower liaison and lives in Great Falls with his wife and three sons.

Michael Kilpatrick with In the Field Consultants, LLC., is a farmer, presenter, inventor and blogger who lives to help farmers apply business principles and practical, proven solutions to grow their businesses and simplify their lives. He has managed large certified organic farms and businesses, consulted for industry experts, and spoken at dozens of conferences.

Renée Gebault King, PhD, is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialist at the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development, part of Montana State University Extension. As part of the Montana 4-H Center team, she develops research-based curriculum that gives youth hands-on learning experiences, building knowledge and skills that contribute to lifelong success. She is an advocate of sustainable, healthy foods and has a diverse background, having worked as an organic inspector, farmers’ market director, meat laboratory manager and agriculture science educator in the Rocky Mountain West. Prior to joining the Montana 4-H Center, Renée served as the Chief of Staff and an Accreditation Manager at the USDA’s National Organic Program. She holds a M.S. in Meat Science and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Wyoming.

Daryl Lassila lives and farms 10 miles east of Great Falls. He was raised fourth generation on the family grain farm. He spent three years gathering experience at Western Montana Co-op and eight years at what is now Mountain View Coop. In 1988, He returned to the farm. In 2000, Daryl started transitioning to organic.

Sasha Loewen is a farmer from Steinbach, southeast Manitoba, farming 500 acres and recently transitioned the family farm to organic. They farm wheat, oats, hemp, clover, and have experimented with various cover crop cocktails. Sasha has a Masters degree in biology from the University of Manitoba, and has just started a PhD under Bruce Maxwell at MSU exploring precision farming techniques in organic grain production.

Bill McDorman is the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. He is the former Executive Director of Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson, Arizona. He was a co-founder of the Down Home Project and Garden City Seeds in Missoula, Montana. Bill McDorman is a seed saver, writer, and educator based in Cornville, Arizona. He is author of the book, Basic Seed Saving.

Fabian Menalled, PhD is a Professor in Weed Ecology and Management at Montana State University. His research and outreach activities focus on improving the sustainability of agricultural systems by developing management approaches that are based on ecological principles. Fabian was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he obtained his B.S. in Biology. He obtained a PhD in forestry at the University of Massachusetts while working at the Biological Station La Selva in Costa Rica. Prior to Montana, Fabian conducted research on ecology and natural resource management at Michigan State University and Iowa State University.

Perry Miller, PhD is a Professor of Sustainable Cropping Systems in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University, conducting diversified dryland cropping systems research there since 1998. His dryland research focuses on carbon, nitrogen, and water budgets in diversified wheat-based systems. Research interests include no-till and organic cropping systems, pulse crop agronomy, winter dicot crops, cover crops (since 1999), and best management practices for soil.

Dr. Zach Miller is an assistant professor and superintendent of MSU’s Western Ag Research Center (WARC), located in Corvallis, Montana. WARC’s focus is on high-value specialty crops including fruits and vegetables. Dr. Miller’s expertise is in plant and pest ecology and integrated pest management. He’s conducted research around the globe, from the rain forests of Central and South America to the high plains of the Highline. He received his doctorate from the University of Michigan. At Montana State University, Dr. Miller has used this approach to address a variety of challenges facing farmers in the region. He’s collaborating with scientists at MSU and across the country to improve integrated pest management of weeds and disease in a variety of crops. In horticultural crops, Dr. Miller’s is researching a variety fruit and vegetable production topics, including vegetable varieties suited for organic projection, maximizing yields and returns for high tunnels, cold-hardy fruit, and cider apples.

Johanna (Jo) Mirenda is the Farm Policy Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), where she develops policy strategy through producer engagement, and serves as the lead technical expert on regulatory issues related to crops and livestock. Johanna is an expert in the USDA organic regulations for production and processing, having nearly a decade of experience working in organic certification. Prior to joining OTA, Johanna served as the Technical Director of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), where she was responsible for overseeing OMRI’s research and education programs. Prior to OMRI, she served as the Policy Director of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, a USDA-accredited organic certification agency. Johanna holds a bachelor’s degree in Horticultural Science from the Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College.

Paul Neubauer is a first generation agrarian. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, his first immersion into agricultural work was as a summer intern on the Warren Wilson College Farm in Swannanoa, NC. Since then his experience and growth in agriculture have relied heavily on the leadership and knowledge of mentors through internship and apprenticeship. He has worked on several different farms and ranches as an apprentice and an educator both. His passions are growing food for lots of people, practicing regenerative grazing, improving soil health, operating large machinery, and teaching others to do the same.

Ole Norgaard currently leases an organic farm (650 acres) 13 miles west of Lewistown, Montana, where he grows peas, barley, wheat, sanfoin seed, triticale, alfalfa and grass hay and a special black/purple Indian corn. Ole is also working on his own value-added product line with a pancake and cornbread mix. He has been involved in farming all his life and holds a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science and a Specialized Degree in Agricultural Economy and Management. He has served on the Montana Organic Association board as Chair and Treasurer and is currently the Chairman of the Organic Advisory and Education Council.

Tessa Peters is Organic Seed Alliance’s Research and Outreach Associate for the Intermountain West region. She develops research and educational opportunities for those in the Intermountain West who are interested in growing and promoting organic seed systems. She received her PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2018 and worked with Dr. Bill Tracy to breed sweet corn for organic producers in the Upper Midwest. She was also a recipient of a Clif Bar Family Foundation Seed Matters fellowship. She currently serves as the co-chair of the board of directors of the Society for Organic Seed Professionals, which supports the professional development of people involved in the organic seed industry. She lives, hikes, and backpacks in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and son.

Nathaniel Powell-Palm currently owns and operates Cold Springs Organics, a certified organic cattle and grain farm located outside of Bozeman, Montana. First certified organic by the Montana Department of Agriculture in 2008, Cold Springs Organics focuses on integrated livestock and crop production in the heart of the Gallatin Valley. Since 2012 Nathaniel has worked as an independent organic farm, livestock and processing inspector, contracting with certification agencies from California to Pennsylvania and 22 states in between. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Montana State University, Bozeman.

Dave Prather has been the General Manager for Western Montana Growers Coop (WMGC) since the beginning of the 2010 growing season. He first joined WMGC as a member/producer in 2007 in order to find a market for his root vegetables and joined the staff in 2008 as the Assistant Manager/ Delivery Driver. Once at WMGC, he quickly found a venue for his training in agriculture and relationship building to promote the growth of small farms in the area. Dave holds a BS in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana and has been pursuing interests in agriculture and resource management for over 15 years. He has completed HAACP training as well as On Farm Food Safety/GAP training. Dave hopes to continue using his experience to help promote a regionalized food system in Montana that focuses on collaborative relationships in order to benefit the rural economies of Montana.

Bob Quinn planted his first certified organic crop in 1986 on his farm near Big Sandy. The entire farm was certified organic by 1991. He introduced an ancient wheat to the organic market in 1986 and now it is sold under the Kamut trademark throughout the world. In April of 2018 he leased out his farm to two employees who are continuing to farm it organically. He helped organize the conference that is the subject of his presentation at this year’s MOA conference. His first book, Grain by Grain, A quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs and Healthy Food, which he wrote with co-author, Liz Carlisle, will be published in March of 2019.

Shelly Rolando is a Chief Agricultural Program Specialist with USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Bozeman, Montana. FSA assists farmers and ranchers with stabilizing income, conserving land and recovering from natural disasters. Shelly oversees the Risk Management Division for the Montana FSA, which administers ARC-PLC disaster and compliance programs through a network of 48 local FSA offices across Montana. Shelly began her career with FSA in 1999 as an administrative program technician in the state office; an office clerk in the Gallatin County FSA Office in Bozeman where she was promoted to program technician; served as a part-time certified milk and cream tester with Darigold Farms of Montana; promoted to Agricultural Program Specialist in the state office managing several risk management programs; and in 2011, promoted to her current position as chief program specialist. Shelly previously served as a farm worker, research aide, and laboratory technician at the MSU Agricultural Experiment Station. She graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. 

Matthew H. Romsa is a fifth generation farmer/rancher of Laramie County, Wyoming, where his ancestors homesteaded in 1906. Romsa’s farming/ranching operations consist of dryland organic hard red winter wheat, proso millet, and yearlings. Romsa holds degrees in diesel mechanics, business administration, accounting and law. His favorite activities are enjoying the great outdoors with his wife and children.

Dave Sands and coworkers have had success in biocontrol of one of the worst weeds in Africa, witchweed (Striga), (the toothpickproject). He is able to raise the virulence (effectiveness) of pathogens by selecting for their heightened amino acid excretion, a safe and effective technology. He is now working on bindweed and thistle. Dave is author of over 150 reviewed publications and teaches Intro to Biotech at MSU, as well as in a few courses in Plant Pathology. He has received a Gates grant for his work in Africa. David receives funding from OAEC for his research efforts.

Jim Sargent is an Auctioneer and the News and Sports Director with STARadio, Great Falls.
Jim “Sarge” Sargent can be heard on KINX 102.7 FM and midmorning and early afternoons on 1049, the Wolf. Sarge grew up on a farm south of Chester. He worked in production agriculture growing wheat and barley and raising cattle. He also worked with Cargill elevators, buying and shipping grain. Sarge has been in the radio business at all levels for more than 25 years. He has received a number of awards for sports broadcasting in addition to being recognized by the FFA Foundation and the 4-H Foundation for his work supporting the Future of Agriculture. Sarge has been married to his lovely wife of 34 years, Sue Sargent, who is a retired teacher that educated kids for over 34 years.

Jeff Schahczenski is an agricultural and natural resource economist with NCAT and he has over 30 years of experience working on issues related to sustainable and organic agriculture, with a recent interest in risk management and federal policy. He wrote and help developed an OREI grant project entitled, Is Organic Farming Risky? : Overcoming and Understanding Crop Insurance Barriers to Expanding Organic Food Production and Markets. He previously worked on a four-year national research project to develop a Microsoft Windows-based and a Web-based interactive decision support tool for farmers and ranchers. This tool helped motivate use of a whole farm revenue crop and livestock insurance product called Adjusted Gross Revenue Lite (AGR-Lite). Schahczenski has presented research results from this project at dozens of state and regional conferences. He was the project director for a 10-partner national project, which examined the limitations of conservation programs as they relate to sustainable and organic production systems. He was also the recipient of the Montana Organic Association’s 2013 Leadership in Organics Award.

Margaret Scoles serves as Executive Director of the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), maintaining the IOIA office in Broadus since January 1999. IOIA is a global nonprofit membership association of organic inspectors with primary activities of inspector training and promoting integrity in the organic certification process. She has 29 years of organic inspection experience for different certifiers, including inspection of farms, livestock, and processors. She served on the Steering Committee of IFOAM- North America, a regional affiliate of IFOAM Organics International. She holds a B.S. in Agriculture (Agronomy Major) from the University of Arizona. Margaret and her husband manage a cow/calf operation in southeastern Montana.

Christina Skonberg is a Senior Sustainability Analyst at General Mills, were she leads the sustainable ingredient sourcing strategy for Annie’s, Cascadian Farm, Epic Provisions and Muir Glen. Focusing on farm-level impact in the supply chain, Christina works to measure and drive continuous improvement in soil health, biodiversity, and farmer economic resilience. Prior to joining General Mills, Christina worked with the Good Food Foundation and SCS Global Services, where she coordinated the Starbucks responsible coffee sourcing verification program across Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Christina received bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural Science and Brazilian Studies from Brown University, and an MS in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from Tufts University.

Dr. Jane Smith, MD and her husband, Mark Smith, established their certified organic grass-fed beef operation, Aspen Island Ranch, 12 years ago after rebuilding their health from the devastating effects of toxic mold. Now retired from Pediatric and Integrative Medicine, Dr. Smith weaves her decades of experience into her speaking, writing, and coaching.

Janet Smith is a Montana State Farm Loan Program Specialist with USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) based in Great Falls. Montana FSA assists farmers and ranchers with farm programs and loans across the state. Janet began her career as an Assistant County Supervisor for Farmers Home Administration. She was transferred to Havre, then promoted to County Supervisor in Helena. She currently works as a Farm Loan Manager in Great Falls, assisting people across the state with loan making and servicing agricultural loans. She has 33 years of lending experience and is a graduate of MSU with an Ag Business degree and a minor in Animal Science. She grew up on a ranch near Livingston, Montana. She and her husband, Grant, have two children.

Claudia Stephens began working for the Montana Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Council in 1987. Her present role includes grant writing, assisting in program management, and outreach. MMSFC provides capacity to address the needs of migrant and seasonal agricultural farmworkers. She was part of the team that was nationally recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance in achievement of MMSFC’s patient centered care method and has also been recognized by the USDA Self-Help program for her work to keep families in their own homes. She has provided expert testimony at the federal level for the Health Care Plan Task Force. The purpose of her work is to increase access to health care and other services necessary for migrant and seasonal agricultural farmworkers and other rural families living in poverty, to reach their individual potential. She has served on a number of community, state and national boards, supporting access to basic human needs. She graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of Montana, Missoula.

Jan Tusick has a strong background in agriculture, finance and capitalization, networking and marketing. She received her certification as a Cooperative Development Specialist through Cooperation Works and completed the National Development Council Economic Development Finance Professional training. She has effectively facilitated cooperative groups in their business development and assisted emerging cooperatives with business and market planning, capitalization, and feasibility analysis. In previous positions, Jan worked with entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in acquiring venture capital for their companies.

Georgana Webster has a BS degree in Animal Science from Cal Poly University. She has been deeply involved in her work and private life with agriculture, livestock production, livestock judging, 4H, FFA, and agriculture extension. This includes commercial livestock production management in swine, dairy, and sheep. Georgana has conducted clinical and research activities as a Staff Research Associate with the U.C. Davis Veterinary Teaching and Research Center. Georgana came from the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Organic program where she worked for eight years as their Organic Livestock Field Specialist in two states.

Becky Weed, MOA Board Member, owns and operates Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company alongside her husband Dave Tyler. Sheep/grass/lamb have been the main enterprise since they started Thirteen Mile 30 years ago but the business has included grass-fed beef, wool products, and custom wool processing since 2003. Becky and Dave are in the process of selling the wool mill to one of the mill employees. In 2016-17 Becky worked with Bruce Maxwell at MSU on the Agriculture Chapter of the Montana Climate Assessment. Becky has served on the boards of the Wild Farm Alliance, the Montana Board of Livestock, Lava Lake Land & Livestock, and Predator Conservation Alliance. Becky is originally from Maine, but also spent formative years in several states and the arctic through various assignments as a geologist. Her degrees in Geology are from Harvard University (BA) and University of Maine (MS).

David Wise is an Independent Contractor, GAP Internal Auditor/On Farm Food Safety Specialist with Montana Farmers Union/National Farmers Union Food Safety Collaborative. He is a certified food safety trainer and has worked with many farms throughout Montana on food safety plans and has conducted numerous internal audits.


If you’d like more conference information or would like to volunteer or make a scholarship donation, call Patti Gregerson at (406) 333-1054 or email her here.

Vendor spaces are going very quickly this year. Please contact Patti Gregerson at (406) 333-1054 or email her here.

If you'd like to make a donation for the silent auction, call Cliff Merriman at (406) 654-4391 or email him here.

Sunset photo by Amaltheia Organic Dairy

©2018 Montana Organic Association