2018 SPEAKERS, PANELISTS, AND MODERATORS
Note: Updated as additional bios are received. To register for the 2018 Virginia Farm-to-Table Conference, please visit Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Program Registration site at https://tinyurl.com/VAFT2018
WELCOMING AND OPENING REMARKS – Wednesday Morning, December 5
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY BETTINA RING, MBA
Governor Ralph S. Northam appointed Bettina Ring in 2018 to serve as the fourth Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In this capacity, she supports the Governor’s mission of building a strong Virginia economy in agriculture and forestry, two of Virginia’s largest private industries, while also protecting the environment.
Prior to her appointment as Secretary, Ring was appointed by former Governor Terry McAuliffe to serve as the seventh State Forester of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). During her term leading the agency, Ring secured $27 million in funding for emergency response equipment used to fight forest fires and to assist localities and other state agencies. A Virginia native, Ring began her career with VDOF and held a number of leadership positions, including deputy state forester, during her 18 years with the agency.
Prior to VDOF, Bettina was the senior vice president of family forests at the American Forest Foundation, a position responsible for overseeing the American Tree Farm System – the largest and oldest sustainable woodland program in America. She served on the federal Forest Resource Coordinating Committee, which provides direction within the U.S. Department of Agriculture and with the private sector to effectively address national priorities for private forest management.
Bettina has also served as executive director of the Bay Area Open Space Council in San Francisco and was the executive director of the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts. She holds a B.S. Degree in Forestry and Wildlife from Virginia Tech and a Masters of Business Administration from James Madison University.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER – DR. MIKE ROSMANN – Wednesday, December 5
Michael Rosmann is a clinical psychologist/farmer who is dedicated to improving the behavioral health of people engaged in agriculture. He and his wife, Marilyn, reside on their western Iowa farm since they left the University of Virginia in 1979 when Dr. Rosmann gave up his professorship in Psychology. Besides operating an organic crop and livestock farm, his professional work has contributed to the understanding of why people farm, their unique behavioral health issues, and why suicide is unusually common among farmers. He has published widely in national and international scientific journals as well as in popular farm and general magazines. He writes a weekly column, “Farm and Ranch Life,” which is syndicated in 31 agricultural and rural newspapers. He is a frequent guest on national and international radio and television programs, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa, and is almost as passionate about fly-fishing as he is about agricultural behavioral health.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER – REVEREND DR. HEBER BROWN III – Wednesday, December 5
Rev. Dr. Heber M. Brown, III is a community organizer, social entrepreneur and Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2015, he founded the Black Church Food Security Network which helps congregations grow food on church-owned land and connects them with African American farmers in order to further Black food and land sovereignty.
He earned his B.S. degree in Psychology from Morgan State University, a Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Union University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary. (Washington, D.C.)
WELCOMING AND OPENING REMARKS – Thursday Morning, December 6
JOHN A. “JACK” BRICKER, STATE CONSERVATIONIST, VIRGINIA
John A. “Jack” Bricker earned a Bachelor of Science in geology and natural resources and a master’s degree in engineering from Ohio State University as well as a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University. He began his NRCS career in 1984 as a Soil Conservationist in Wayne County, Ohio, and subsequently worked in Delaware and Madison counties before his selection as State Contracting Officer in 1987.
In 1991, Jack moved to New York to serve as Supervisory Contracting Officer in Syracuse and later District Conservationist/
Program Manager in New York City where he established the first NRCS soil survey and field office. In 1995, Jack made his way to NRCS headquarters in Washington, DC, to take a position as National Urban Program Manager and American Indian Liaison, helping to create 12 Tribal Conservation Districts. Jack then served as Acting Director for the Civil Rights Division before moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2002.
For the next two years, Jack directed Farm Bill program, administrative, and field office operations as Deputy State Conservationist in New Mexico, and was a member of the 2002 National Farm Bill Team. In 2004, he was named Michigan State Conservationist and directed all NRCS operations within that state for three years before his selection for the top slot in Virginia. Under his leadership, Virginia remains technically, programmatically, and administratively strong with a balanced budget, enhanced program delivery through innovative partnerships, and a rigorous QA/QC process that is one of the best in the nation.
DR. EDWIN JONES, DIRECTOR, VIRGINIA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
Dr. Edwin Jones is the Director of Virginia Cooperative Extension and Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has served in that role since April 2011. Prior to that he has served as Associate Director and State Program Leader for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community and Rural Development, Associate State Program Leader for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community and Rural Development, Assistant Department Head and Department Extension Leader in Forestry, and an Extension Wildlife Specialist and Professor of Forestry at NC State University. He has also served as Extension Wildlife Specialist at Mississippi State University. Dr. Jones has a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Washington and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech in Fisheries and Wildlife Science. He has held leadership positions in a variety of regional and national organizations, including the Extension Disaster Education Network, the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals, Southern Region Program Leader Network, and ECOP National 4-H Leadership Committee.
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS – DR. DAVID MONTGOMERY AND ANNE BIKLE – Thursday, December 6
David R. Montgomery is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He is an internationally recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, and on a wide variety of TV and radio programs.
David has written several popular books including Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (2007), which chronicles the role of soil in the evolution of ancient and modern societies. His most recent book is Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life (2017). David’s work combines the rigor of science with narrative to share his unique perspective on Earth with readers. David holds a Bachelors’ degree in geology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in geomorphology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Anne Biklé is an author, biologist, and gardener whose wide-ranging interests have led her into salmon restoration, environmental planning, and public health. She uses her broad background and endless fascination with the natural world to investigate and write about connections between people, plants, food, health, and the environment. She finds the botanical world particularly enthralling whether coaxing plants into rambunctious growth or nursing them back from the edge of death. She particularly likes sharing the inner workings of plants and the human body with audiences. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and radio and her soil-building practices have been featured in independent and documentary films.
Anne holds Bachelors’ degrees in Biology and Natural History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. David Montgomery and Anne are married and live in Seattle. They collaborated to write The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health after buying a house and encountering the dead dirt that came with it. They undertook a yard makeover and soon found themselves with more questions than answers about their fixer-upper soil. The book blends memoir, history, and science, to explore humanity’s tangled relationship with the microbial world and how it influences the way we practice agriculture and medicine.
Session Speakers and Panelists – Wednesday, December 5
Rachel Armistead is co-owner of The Sweet Farm, a Frederick-based farm, food truck, and fermented foods company that sells a variety of naturally-fermented, probiotic krauts, pickles, mustard, and ginger beer. She also loves teaching people how to make fermented veggies and sodas at home for themselves. Through product sales and workshops, Rachel hopes to once again make fermentation part of our common food culture.
Kirk Ballin has been the Program Coordinator for AgrAbility Virginia (Virginia Tech and Easter Seals NC/VA) since 2005. The USDA funded program strives to assist farmers, farmworkers, and ranchers who have illnesses, injuries, or disabilities that impede their ability to work safely, effectively, and productively. Kirk has also served two terms on the Virginia Rural Health Association (once as President), Executive Director of the National Conference for Community and Justice (Roanoke Region), part-time Trauma Unit Chaplain for Carilion Health System, and mental health counselor with Life issues. He is also an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister, having served congregations in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Patryk Battle is the Director of Living Web Farms a network of educational and research farms dedicated to the widespread adoption of regenerative farming practices and the elimination of food insecurity. His the focus of life’s work has been and remains the production processing and delivery of food to his community. Although the locus of his efforts has changed over the decades his dedication to making these endeavors more socially just and environmentally regenerative has not.
Catherine Bukowski is a researcher, author, and educator. She is also a consultant with Kindred Roots Design focusing on creating abundant landscapes and growing connected communities. She continues to pursue her doctoral degree in the College of Natural Resources and the Environment at Virginia Tech, where her research on the design and management of community food forests across the United States began.
She also holds a graduate certificate in Collaborative Community Leadership which focused on the social dimensions of community food forests by applying the Community Capitals Framework to her data analysis. Catherine has worked internationally and domestically in sustainable land use and natural resource management, agroforestry, permaculture and project planning to strengthen communities. She previously co-coordinated a forest farming virtual community for the online Cooperative Extension network and now sits on the Board of Directors for the Association of Temperate Agroforestry. In response to the gap in the literature on urban food forestry, Catherine and her advisor have translated her dissertation research into The Community Food Forest Handbook: How to Plan, Organize, and Nurture Edible Gathering Places published by Chelsea Green Publishing in July 2018. More information on community food forests, consulting, and book orders are available on Catherine’s website: www.communityfoodforests.com/handbook
As Farm Services Coordinator at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), Mark provides a variety of services related to improving on-farm conservation and organic certification, including conservation planning and education, and assists with CFSA’s Organic Research program. As an educator and researcher, his focus is on soil and cover crop management to support healthy crops. Prior to his work at CFSA, he worked as a researcher in Pennsylvania on organic no-till grain production, and the management of weeds, cover crops and soil.
Kathy Holm is currently the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations for Area I in Virginia with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Ms. Holm has a diverse background in natural resources project management, implementation, grant writing, education, and outreach. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and political science and a master’s degree in forest resources all from the University of Minnesota.
She has worked at NRCS for almost 15 years holding positions as Assistant State Conservationist, Resource Conservationist, and Coordinator for the Shenandoah Resource Conservation & Development Council. Prior to her work at NRCS, she served as the Director of Public Policy for the Valley Conservation Council, a Shenandoah Valley land trust, in Staunton, VA, at Eastern Mennonite University, the University of Minnesota, BRW Inc., Minneapolis, MN, and Youth New Service in Washington, DC. She served as an intern in sustainable agriculture at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. Volunteer work includes serving on the Stormwater Advisory Committee for the City of Harrisonburg, VA, and administrative work for the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota and The Nature Conservancy, Charlottesville, VA, chapter. She has professional communications experience in public relations, writing, editing, and marketing.
Michael Reilly is co-founder and executive director of Slow Money Central Virginia, a non-profit whose mission is to support the financial needs of Virginia farms through 0% loans, land acquisition, and financial education. Michael started his career in banking and then worked for 15 years as an executive in the broadcast TV business. In 2010 he turned his attention to entrepreneurship and local food advocacy. He launched Foodwaze.com, an online and mobile platform to help consumers understand more about the source of their food.
The combination of his business experience and local food advocacy made for a natural progression into Slow Money, which is a nationwide movement to encourage investors and philanthropists to invest as if “food, farms, and fertility mattered.” Slow Money is ushering in a new era of “nurture capital,” built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place, diversity and nonviolence. Michael partnered with Hunter Hopcroft, who is active in local food in the Richmond area. Together they launched Slow Money Central Virginia in 2018, with long-term plans to serve the entire state.
Michael is active in several other local food advocacy groups. He serves on the board of Market Central, a nonprofit that administers the SNAP program and other functions for the Charlottesville farmers markets. He is on the planning team for the Charlottesville Food Justice Network, and he serves on an advisory committee for the Virginia Association of Biological Farming. He is also active in the effort against global warming and serves on the steering committee for Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, a collaborative of faith communities dedicated to advancing climate justice. Michael earned an undergraduate degree in history from Yale University and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. He lives in Charlottesville with his wife and four children.
Kelli Scott is an Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension Agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Montgomery County. She stresses the importance of having good and devoted collaborators and also building a critical mass within the community. She sees relationships as the key to success. Kelli is working towards strengthening the regional food system for enhanced access and affordability. She champions the importance of supporting local farmers while creating a healthier and stronger community for the future.
Beth is currently an associate with Skeo Solutions, INC. Beth’s approach to planning is based on her experiences as an urban farmer, community organizer, and ecological landscape designer. For over 10 years, she has worked with a wide range of community stakeholders, including people experiencing homelessness, immigrants and refugees, formerly incarcerated individuals and historically marginalized farmers, to find land-based strategies that create opportunities to overcome systemic obstacles. Beth is a community planner and designer with a passion for environmental and social justice. As a leader in the Harrisonburg EATs (Everyone at the Table) project, Beth worked to gain a better understanding of Harrisonburg, Virginia’s health, hunger, and local food system by conducting a broad-based food assessment in order to strategically plan solutions that improve food security, individual and family health, and the overall local food economy. Beth strives to create long-term solutions that bring communities closer to the visions they have for the places where they live, play and work.
Session Speakers and Panelists – Thursday, December 6
Daniel Austin is a fifth-generation farmer from Rocky Mount in Franklin County, VA. He is also a leading innovator, expert, and educator on forage, crop, and soil management in his region.
Raised on a dairy, by the age of 18 Daniel was overseeing the production of corn silage and other forages for two confined dairy operations. At one point in his career, Daniel was farming more than 500 acres of forages and grain crops annually. Committed to finding ways to stay profitable in the face of milk and commodity crop prices that are currently devastating his community, Daniel has shifted his focus to value-added production and marketing. Currently managing 170 acres, Daniel’s motto is “Everything we sell leaves the farm in a bag 50 pounds or smaller.” Daniel’s operation called Green Sprig Ag grows and sells forage and cover crop seed. He specializes in providing expert advice as well as customized seed mixes for his clients. Daniel offers custom no-till planting and forage harvesting services as well as equipment rental. Daniel also runs a feed mill called Little Red Hen that processes his non-GMO corn, soybeans, and small grains into feed for small-scale poultry and swine growers. Daniel is also growing food-grade small grains for specialty markets.
Daniel is deeply committed to taking care of the soil on his farm and beyond. He has been a major agent for change in how farmers across Franklin County and Southside Virginia manage their land, leading by example with his adoption of continuous no-till and aggressive cover cropping. Daniel was the original founder of the Franklin County chapter of the Virginia No-till Alliance, which held its first planter clinic meeting in 2011. An indispensable ally to Virginia Cooperative Extension and local conservation agencies, he has since organized, promoted, hosted, sponsored, invited fellow farmers to attend, and spoken at dozens of educational events for both growers and agency personnel in Franklin County and beyond.
Patrick Banks, Farm Manager, AMI Farm at Augusta Health – Originally from Pardeeville, Wisconsin, Pat found his passion in farming and followed it to Allegheny Mountain Institute, where he now serves as Farm Manager at Allegheny Mountain Institute Farm at Augusta Health. When not on the farm, Pat enjoys making music, the great outdoors, and cooking, preserving and fermenting the food he grows.
Sue Erhardt, Executive Director, Allegheny Mountain Institute, brings over 20 years of experience in education and urban agriculture to AMI. Prior to joining AMI, Sue served as Director of Education with Casey Trees in Washington DC, and held leadership roles with The Greening of Detroit and the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. Sue has created and implemented environmental education programs for adults and K-12 students and has extensive experience in training and directing staff and volunteers to get the most out of their time and talents.
Dr. Barbara A. Fenton, MD, FACP
Having practiced primary care internal medicine in both academic and private practice over many years, Dr. Fenton came to Augusta Health in 2012. She currently serves as Medical Director for Augusta Care Partners, a clinically integrated network of providers who together with Augusta Hospital work together to coordinate and improve quality and efficiency of care for the greater Augusta area.
Before completing medical school and an internal medicine residency at George Washington University in Washington DC, Dr. Fenton worked as a licensed physical therapist for five years. Perhaps that is why attention to physical fitness and optimizing functional capacity have remained so important to her in practice over the years. Dr. Fenton was thrilled to be included in the planning of the Food Farmacy program, a collaboration of Allegheny Mountain Institute and Augusta Health. This and other programs have afforded opportunities to teach, which she also enjoys.
After her residency program, she worked for the National Health Service in West Virginia and has held medical faculty positions at the University of Virginia and prior to that, at George Washington University Hospital, where she was Director for the Primary Care Medical Student Clerkship Program and received an Innovations in Teaching award. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians.
She has served in several humanitarian missions including Project Hope in Indonesia after the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina Relief in New Orleans, and three missions in Corumba, Brazil with the Brazil Project. Dr. Fenton enjoys outdoor activities such as leading Walk with a Doc walks in Staunton and Waynesboro, and non-competitive biking in Nelson County, where she currently resides with her husband and dog.
Jessa Fowler, Education Director, Allegheny Mountain Institute – After studying ancient agriculture in college and co-teaching fifth grade, Jessa followed her passion for building healthy communities as an AMI Fellow in 2012. In her subsequent work at the AMI partner organization, The Highland Center, Jessa worked to build local food systems in the region. Jessa earned a Master’s in Education from the University of Washington, where she studied and worked in the fields of nutrition and garden education, outdoor education, non-profit management, and curriculum development.
Steve Gabriel is an ecologist, forest farmer, and educator living in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State in the US. Throughout his career, Steve has taught thousands of farmers and land managers about the ways farming and forestry can be combined to both benefit the ecology and the bottom line of the farm.
He is Agroforestry Extension Specialist for the Cornell Small Farm Program and has served as guest faculty at Cornell University, Sterling College, Paul Smiths College, and the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. Alongside his wife, Elizabeth, he co-stewards Wellspring Forest Farm, where they produce mushrooms, maple syrup, duck eggs, pastured lamb, and elderberry extract, all from forest-based systems.
Steve co-authored Farming the Woods with Ken Mudge in 2014 and is the author of the new book Silvopasture, released in 2018. He passionately pursues work to reconnect people to the forested landscape and see the value of trees and forests as an essential part of a regenerative future.
Dr. Beth Gugino
Beth K. Gugino is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology at Penn State. Her extension and research program focuses on the identification, epidemiology, and management of vegetable diseases important to Pennsylvania as well as the mid-Atlantic and northeast regions. She disseminates timely disease monitoring and forecasting information to diverse grower audiences so enable them to make informed in-season disease management recommendations. She received her B.S. in Horticulture and M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Penn State. She was a post-doc at Cornell University working with diseases of vegetable crops and soil health for four years before returning to Penn State in June 2008.
Hana Newcomb, 58, grew up working on her family farm in Northern Virginia and is responsible for most strategizing, logistics, field preparation, and general big picture thinking. She likes picking beans on a nice October afternoon to gather her thoughts. Hana understands that resilience comes from the good relationships that develop between everyone on the farm: workers, employers, customers, and fellow farmers. Potomac Vegetable Farms has been in business for 55 years, evolving and changing, currently selling vegetables through two roadside stands, six farmers markets and a multi-farm CSA, and is now becoming a four-season operation. The farm is owned by Hana, her mother Hiu Newcomb and Carrie Nemec, who is not a family member but who is young enough to keep going for many more years.
Bill came to work with NRCS in the Pearisburg, Va office, (which is in Giles County) in 1974. He retired in 2008 with 33 years of service and returned in Dec. 2010 as an ACES employee. He works out of the USDA Service Center in Harrisonburg. He is an avid gardener and soil health advocate as a former District Conservationist. Bill and his wife live in Northern Augusta County.
Jenna Clarke Piersol
Jenna Clarke Piersol is a farmer, fundraiser, and executive director of Project GROWS educational farm in Augusta County, Virginia. She came to Project GROWS following an 18-month fellowship position with the Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) in 2012/2013. Prior to AMI, she served as Director of Development at Rx Partnership, a statewide nonprofit helping low-income Virginians access needed prescription medication. Jenna received her bachelor’s degree in communication from Virginia Tech and lives on an organic fruit farm in Augusta County, Virginia with her husband and 4-month old son, Afton.
Dr. Elsa Sanchez
Elsa Sánchez is a Professor of Horticulture in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State University. Her responsibilities are 60% extension and 40% undergraduate teaching. Current extension projects focus on sustainable and organic production of vegetable crops. She earned a BS in Horticulture and an MS in Agricultural Biology at New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. in Horticulture at Washington State University. Elsa and her husband, Chris, live in State College, PA with their daughters Laurel and Lilly.
2018 PANEL MODERATORS
Kevin is unique in his position with Virginia Cooperative Extension as his primary Extension responsibilities are split into two roles. Kevin manages an impressive group of trained Extension Master Gardeners who, since his arrival in Lynchburg, have contributed over 160,000 hours of volunteer time to the Lynchburg area which are averaged out to benefit Lynchburg by over $3 million. He organizes pest management, certification, and recertification programs as well as provides educational programs to nearly all of Lynchburg’s eleven elementary schools. Locally, he serves as Past President on the Lynchburg Area Food Council and is Vice-President of the Lynchburg Grows Board of Directors. Kevin is extremely passionate about Urban Agriculture and the benefits of it and has helped spearhead several agricultural projects to highlight and promote agriculture in the region and in the Commonwealth. He lives in Forest, VA with his wife Aimee and boys, Zack and Ethan.
Steve Cooke has been the General Manager of Friendly City Food Co-op since August of 2010. He came back to the Shenandoah Valley to be part of the start-up team there and apply all of the experience, skills and local food system building tools he acquired as GM of Sevananda Natural Foods Market in Atlanta, GA, where he worked for 16 years. Passionate about co-ops and creating start-ups that last, he currently serves on the board of Food Co-op Initiative. Steve previously served on the Risk Management Committee and Steering Committee of the Eastern Corridor of the National Co-op Grocers. He has been part of the planning committees of the Virginia Farm to Table Conference, as well as a credit union board.
Steve has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Journalism from James Madison University in Harrisonburg. He likes to say that he “has a degree in Political Science and Communications, and that’s why he runs a food co-op,” tying the politics of food, and the building of strong community relationships.
Jason Cooper is an Horticulture Extension agent housed in Rockingham county and also covering the counties of Augusta, Rockbridge, Bath and Highland. Jason has served in this role for the past 4 and ½ years. Prior to being an Extension Agent, Jason worked as a landscape designer for Fort Valley Nursery in Woodstock, VA for 15 years. Jason earned a degree in Horticulture from Virginia Tech in 1999. He resides in Woodstock, VA with his wife Rebecca and their three sons.
JB Daniel has worked with farmers and livestock producers across Virginia for the past 19 years. For the past 9 years, JB has served as the USDA-NRCS Forage and Grassland Agronomist and Grazing Specialist in Virginia. He serves as the Technical Leader for the grassland conservation practices planned and designed by NRCS and implemented as part of conservation plans on farms across Virginia. He provides concurrent training to field staff on changing technologies and methods for establishing and managing forages on private lands throughout the state. He strategically partners with other agencies, non-profits, and regional/local associations on grassland related outreach events and he helped develop and continues to be a lead trainer on the Statewide Grazing Schools hosted by the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council. JB is a frequent contributor to the quarterly publication the Virginia Forager and the popular VA Graziers’ Planner published each December.
Since 2001 Adam has worked as the Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent serving Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Northern District, a 28 county area from the Shenandoah Valley to Northern Virginia to Fredericksburg and Charlottesville. His professional expertise is in providing informal education regarding forestry and natural resources to address current issues in rural, urban, and rural/urban interface areas to home & landowners, professionals, decision-makers, and the general public. His mission is to enable people to make best decisions regarding the forest & natural resources, within their realm of influence, resulting in environmentally sustainable management, growth, and quality of life for that person and that community.
Before his appointment with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Adam served Northwest Pennsylvania as an extension forester with Penn State. Prior to joining the “extension family,” Adam volunteered with the United States Peace Corps in Kenya as an agroforestry extension agent. He has also worked as an Assistant Service Forester in Indiana with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Adam holds a B.S. Degree in Forestry from Purdue University and an M.S. Degree in Forest Resources from Penn State University.
Chris Lawrence has served as State Cropland Agronomist covering cropland issues for USDA-NRCS in Virginia since March 2004. He is the lead technical contact for NRCS in Virginia in the areas of cropland agronomy; soil health/soil quality; erosion prediction; and nutrient management. He has a degree in Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences from Virginia Tech and also has five years of experience as an agricultural Extension Agent in northeast and northwest Virginia.
Kayla MacLachlan was born and raised in the rolling countryside of Upstate New York, just outside of Syracuse. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Education and English literature, but has a passion for land-based learning and regenerative agriculture. After graduating from the State University of New York, College at Fredonia, she served with AmeriCorps NCCC before becoming an Allegheny Mountain School (now Allegheny Mountain Institute) Fellow in 2012. Falling in love with Highland County and the work of AMI, she worked as AMI’s Program and Fellowship Director for several years, before pursuing work as an Adolescent Lead Teacher at the Staunton Montessori School. She continues to support the work of AMI by serving on the Board of Directors. Kayla is a graduate of the Association Montessori Internationale Orientation to Adolescent Studies and completed her coursework at the Hershey-Montessori Farm School in Huntsburg, Ohio. No matter where her professional journey leads her, Kayla strives to find work that bridges her joy of teaching and mentorship with her love of plants, music, food, community, and the great outdoors.
Jonathan McRay is a farmer, facilitator, and writer from Central Appalachia. He has an MA in Conflict Transformation with extensive experience and education in restorative justice, mediation, group decision-making, ecological design, agroecology, and agroforestry. Jonathan was a founding member of Vine and Fig, a neighborhood homestead and education center, therapeutic community, and organizing hub, and currently serves as a resident mediator. He has worked on diversified farms, wrote an introduction to watershed restoration and stream health for an action research initiative in a rural farming community, and co-facilitated the first Uprooting Racism Farmer Immersion program at Soul Fire Farm in New York. Jonathan grew up in East Tennessee and lives in the Shenandoah Valley, where he is co-founder and caretaker of Blacks Run Forest Farm.
Krystal Diehl Moyers, M.Ed, BA, CHES – Krystal is a health educator and serves as the Director of the Community Outreach Department at Augusta health. She graduated from James Madison University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. In 2009, she received a Master of Health and Physical Education degree from Virginia Tech. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. As the Director of Community Outreach. Krystal oversees Augusta’s Health Community Health Needs Assessment, the corresponding Implementation Strategy and the major programs implemented to address the top health priorities of Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro. The programs include the AMI Farm at Augusta Health and corresponding Food Farmacy. Krystal is also responsible for tracking the outcome measures of the initiatives in order to measure the impact on the health of the community. She is passionate about creating systemic change in the health of our community to ultimately improve population health.
Krystal and her husband live in Mount Crawford on a farmette with their goats, chickens, dogs and cats. Krystal enjoys being physically active, especially in the outdoors, flower and vegetable gardening and completing home renovation projects.
Dr. Kim Niewolny
Dr. Kim Niewolny is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. Her scholarship centers on the role of power and equity in community education and development with a specific focus on the participatory praxis and cultural resilience. Her work is grounded in cultural and participatory community development; critical pedagogy; action research; and sociocultural, transformative, and social movement frameworks for food systems change. Dr. Niewolny holds research training and experience in qualitative research methods; special interest in discourse analysis and narrative inquiry. Current funded initiatives emphasize the political praxis of community food work, Appalachian community food security, new farmer sustainability, and farmworker care/dignity. Most recently, Kim launched the “Stories of Community Food Work in Appalachia” project to create and share stories that illustrate the lived experiences of activists, educators, and practitioners who are connected to the broader issues of social justice and food systems change in the Appalachian region.
Before moving from Mexico to the U.S. in 1999, Beth graduated from Universidad Autonoma Agraria Antonio Narro (UAAAN-UL), where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agronomy. After graduating, Beth worked at Chapingo’s Phytotechnology lab and for two nationwide government programs in Mexico, which focused on supporting marginalized farmers. Beth decided to pursue her Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Postharvest Physiology at the Food and Development Research Center (CIAD) in Hermosillo, Mexico. Upon graduating she worked at the center, conducting research and agricultural education for five years.
Her work experience includes horticulture, propagation, entomology, fungi microbiology, postharvest physiology, Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Pesticide Education, Research and Extension activities. Beth joined the VCE Loudoun Office to assist Loudoun Growers in finding joint solutions to locally-identified problems related to agriculture. Her mission is to help Loudoun’s agricultural community become stronger, unified and sustainable.
Mark is a life-long resident of the Winchester/Frederick County community. He received a B.S. in Horticulture from Virginia Tech and, following undergraduate school, returned to the Winchester area to work for Blue Ridge Landscape & Design, Inc. for 10 years. Mark joined Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) as an Agriculture and Natural Resources Associate Extension Agent in November of 2011. His focus is on serving the horticulture needs of the Northern Shenandoah Valley. This involves working with homeowners regarding home lawn, garden, and landscape items as well as assisting commercial growers producing horticulture crops: tree fruit, vegetables, and ornamentals, to name a few. Mark works out of the VCE-Frederick County office but also serves Clarke, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties.