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Tilth Conference: Presenter Bios

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Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons

As the founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons, Rachel Armstrong has led dozens of webinars and workshops for thousands of farmers nationwide and created the organization’s innovative approach to farm law risk reduction. Her vision for changing the way consumers experience business law been awarded with two fellowships: a 2012 Echoing Green Global Fellowship and a 2018 Ashoka Fellowship. As leading authority on direct to consumer farm law she has authored dozens of publications on farm law matters for farmers, alongside several academic and trade publications for attorneys. Ms. Armstrong instructs continuing legal education classes for the American Bar Association, teaches farm law for the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is a co-author of "Farmers' Guide to Business Structures," published by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. A graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the University of Wisconsin Madison, she lives in Northern Minnesota. She is licensed to practice law in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Allison Browne, Washington State Department of Health

Allison Browne has a public health background in health promotion and health behavior. She is the Agricultural Suicide Prevention Specialist for the Injury and Violence Prevention Program at the Washington State Department of Health.

Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, Washington State University

Dr. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs is a soil scientist and professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at WSU. She teaches courses on sustainable soil management and organic agriculture. Her research includes carbon footprints of agriculture, nitrogen fixation, compost teas, crop-livestock integration, and other aspects of bio-intensive agriculture.

Doug Collins, Washington State University

Doug Collins is an Extension Faculty and Soil Scientist with WSU’s Food Systems Program. Doug has a Ph.D. in soil science from Washington State University and an M.S. in Plant Pathology from Montana State University. He focuses on managing and monitoring soil fertility on diverse organic vegetable farms and evaluating soil quality in different vegetable cropping systems - including organic reduced tillage. Doug is also interested in soil variability across landscapes and biological indicators of soil quality.

Matt Davis, Oregon State University

Matt Davis is a research assistant in the Department of Horticulture at OSU. He coordinates research projects on dry farmed tomato production and analyzes and summarizes project data. Matt is particularly interested in how plants respond to stressful environments and what sort of environmental factors induce stress. His family has been farming in the Willamette Valley since the 1950's and he makes time to help on their walnut orchard whenever possible. 

Dr. Katherine Dentzman, University of Idaho

Dr. Dentzman is a sociologist studying how groups of people interact with agriculture and the natural environment. Her work spans ideologies of technology adoption, conservation practices, and more recently barriers faced by women, people of color, and queer people in farming.

Amy Garrett, Oregon State University

Amy has more than 20 years of experience in the horticulture industry ranging from landscape design, installation and maintenance to organic farming, research, and education. Drought mitigation tools and strategies for growing with little or no irrigation have become a focus in her work in recent years. She has been working with OSU Extension Small Farms Program in the Southern Willamette Valley since 2011, initiated the OSU Dry Farming Project in 2014, and founded the Dry Farming Collaborative in 2016 which has blossomed into a multifaceted participatory climate adaptation research project engaging growers globally.

Jessica Gigot, Harmony Fields & Western Washington University

Jessica Gigot, PhD, is a farmer, teacher, and writer. She has a small farm in Bow, WA called Harmony Fields that makes artisan sheep cheese and grows organic herbs.

Samara Gonzalez, Bastyr University

Samara recently graduated with a Master of Science in Nutrition degree with a focus on research in the field of food equity and access. They are interested in creating food networks that emphasize the importance of small farms and culturally appropriate food for all communities. Samara is presenting on the challenges of accessibility and awareness of farmers markets from the consumer and market manager perspectives. They hope to impact these known challenges by working to improve access to fresh, whole, produce for everyone especially marginalised communities.

Lily Gottlieb-McHale, Washington Farmland Trust

Lily is a vegetable farmer and landowner in Enumclaw, WA who has served on all sides of the land access spectrum – searching, buying, leasing, navigating resources, and matching farmers and landowners. Lily’s passion for sharing resources and working within a community of farmers led her to start her own farm business, Shared Soil. Shared Soil addresses issues of land access by renting farmland to beginner and new American farmers, working side-by-side and sharing infrastructure. Lily continues supporting farmers and landowners in her work for Washington Farmland Trust where she is the Farm to Farmer Coordinator in King County and the Coordinator of the Working Farmland Partnership. 

Martin Guerena, NCAT/ATTRA

Martin Guerena is a sustainable agriculture specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology where he provides information to farmers, ranchers and agricultural educators on sustainable farming practices and pest control methods. Most recently, he served as the Integrated Pest Management Specialist for the City of Davis, California. He is a licensed Pest Control Advisor and has experience as a teacher, farm manager and extension agent with the University of Arizona.

Dr. Scot Hulburt, Washington State University

Dr. Scot Hulbert has been the Cook Endowed Chair in the Department of Plant Pathology since 2006, and, in 2018, he was named Interim Associate Dean for Research and Interim Agricultural Research Center Director. In his new roles, he’ll supervise the research being done in Pullman, as well as in CAHNRS research centers and field stations across the state. Dr. Hulbert received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from WSU and completed a Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of California-Davis. Before coming to WSU as endowed chair, Hulbert worked, taught and held leadership roles at Purdue University and Kansas State University. In 2002, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Phytopathology, and in 2005, as a Fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science. For the past 12 years, Dr. Hulbert has worked alongside fellow CAHNRS scientists to find solutions to global and local threats facing farms, food, and the environment. As Interim Director of the Agricultural Research Center, Dr. Hulbert will preside over one of the leading drivers of research at WSU. CAHNRS and the Agricultural Research Center contribute more than 40 percent of the University’s extramural funding budget–$83 million in 2016.

Erika Lindholm, Craft3

Erika Lindholm joined Craft3 in 2014 and is a Senior Business Lender. She is responsible for generating new commercial loans in the Olympic Peninsula Region. Erika uses her more than 14 years’ experience in the CDFI industry to oversee Craft3 lenders in other rural markets while bringing best practices learned in these other markets back to her lending and leadership role on the Peninsula. Erika’s experience in community development lending have honed her skills in tackling the financing needs of non-bankable borrowers and problem solving for complex community challenges that require multi-party collaboration. Prior to joining the Craft3 team, Erika spearheaded a pilot enterprise loan fund for the NeighborWorks America network. Her other CDFI experience includes Senior Loan Officer for Mercy Loan Fund and Loan Programs Director at Mile High Community Loan Fund. For 10 years before joining the CDFI industry, Erika work experience included real estate development, urban renewal and small business counseling.

Dr. Vicki McCracken, Washington State University

Dr. Vicki A. McCracken is a Professor in the School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University and is the previous Chair of the Department of Apparel Merchandising Design and Textiles. She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University with dual majors in Economics and Home Economics (Human Nutrition track) and completed her MS and PhD degrees at the rival Purdue University in Agricultural Economics. She has spent her entire career since 1984 at WSU, serving as a faculty member and in various administrative leadership positions. She has taught courses in quantitative methods, intermediate micro, and applied marketing and price analysis. Her research and extension interests are broad-based ranging from analyzing social and economic issues of importance in agricultural production contexts to alternative agricultural markets and human health to identifying determinants of student academic success. Dr. McCracken has a steady stream of external grant funding that has supported her research resulting in a steady flow of conference presentations and publications. Dr. McCracken has been active in service throughout her career. She has wide-ranging committee service at WSU and for the agricultural economics profession. She has been honored with awards and leadership positions from numerous organizations including: National Research Initiative: Markets and Trade Panel Manager; W.K. Kellogg Foundation Collaborative Efforts – Partnership 2020; ESCOP/ACOP Leadership Program; Outstanding Teaching and Leadership awards at Washington State University; and Fellow of the Western Agricultural Economics Association.

Michael Parker, National Young Farmers Coalition

Mike helps beginning farmers understand farm marketing and land access strategies. He has varied professional experience in agriculture, including as a first-generation farmer, a farm viability program coordinator, a food hub marketing associate, and a farmers market manager. Mike holds a degree in accounting from Georgetown University.

Dr. Ryanne Pilgeram, University of Idaho

Ryanne Pilgeram, PhD, is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Idaho where she has worked since 2010. Her research focuses on the intersection of race, class, and gender in rural communities and has studied women’s involvement in farming since 2005. She is the lead-PI and Project Manager on a USDA-AFRI Grant, “Women Farmers on the Rise in the US & Idaho.” 

Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers LLC

Debra Prinzing is a Seattle-based writer, speaker and leading advocate for American Grown Flowers. Through her many Slow Flowers-branded projects, she has convened a national conversation that stimulates consumers and professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases. Debra is the producer of SlowFlowers.com, the online directory to American grown farms, florists, shops and studios who supply domestic and local flowers. Each Wednesday, approximately 2,500 listeners tune into Debra's "Slow Flowers Podcast," available for free downloads at her website, debraprinzing.com, or on iTunes and via other podcast services. She is the creator of American Flowers Week, launched during the July 4th week in 2015 with more than 5.0 million social media impressions in 2017. Debra is a Florists' Review Contributing Editor for which produces the "Slow Flowers Journal'' section. In 2016, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farm-to-florist cooperative, honored Debra with the first Growers Choice Award for her "outstanding contributions to revitalizing the local floral community." She is a 2016 inductee to the Garden Writers Association Hall of Fame and the author of 10 books, including Slow Flowers and The 50 Mile Bouquet.

Gabrielle Roesch-McNally, American Farmland Trust

Gabrielle leads AFT’s national initiative to ensure women landowners have access to resources, technical advice, and policy facilitators to ensure they lead in conservation and building resilient agrifood systems. Before joining AFT, she worked as a fellow with the USDA Northwest Climate Hub where she conducted social science research to better understand producer decision making in sustainable agrifood systems, particularly in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation. She has written or contributed to many reports, assessments, and other publications on climate change. Gabrielle earned a Master of Science from the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forestry Science, where she focused on environmental economics and a Doctorate in sociology and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University where she worked as one of the lead social scientists on a large-scale interdisciplinary USDA-NIFA project as part of her dissertation research.

Kate Seymour, Washington State University Skagit County Extension

Kate Seymour has worked with WSU Skagit County on a number of programs related to farmer health and safety. She is the grants manager for the  Washington State AgrAbility Program, the Agricultural Suicide Prevention Pilot Program and the Western Regional Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.

Ada Snyder, High Mowing Seeds

Ada Snyder joined High Mowing in 2014 and has over a decade of experience in the seed industry working both in sales and in the field doing product development. Her current work includes visiting farms, meeting with growers and learning their farming systems to help find varieties that thrive in their unique conditions. Ada seeks to help growers overcome some of the diverse challenges of farming by offering the best possible organic seeds, service and resources. Ada is located in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Nathan Stacey, Washington State University, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources

Nathan Stacey is a postdoctoral research associate at Washington State University's, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. Nate has a background in soil science and his research focuses on the use of recycled organic materials as a soil amendment.  He is particularly interested in the effects these amendments have on nutrient cycling.

Alex Stone, Oregon State University

Alex is the vegetable specialist at OSU. Alex conducts research and extension programs with organic farmers to improve their cropping systems, and teaches organic farming courses through OSU's new online Organic Farming Systems Certificate program . Alex was an organic farmer in Massachusetts from 1987-1992 and currently has an organic farm in Albany OR, growing Brussels sprouts and dry beans. Alex has been working on dry farming of organic vegetables for about 5 years with colleagues Amy Garrett and Matt Davis. Alex worked on dry farm winter squash production from 2015-2017 and, in 2018 and 2019, they evaluated dry farm site suitability on more than 30 farms in Oregon. Starting in 2020, Alex is working on dry farm tomato production.

Cheryl Thornton, Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Cheryl began working in agriculture as Co-Owner and Operator of Cloud Mountain Farm 1985-2011.  She co-managed all operations of the farm including retail nursery, landscaping and fruit and vegetable production specializing in finance, marketing and education.  In 2011 she and her husband Tom Helped form a 501c3 non-profit agriculture education center at Cloud Mountain Farm.  She has been very involved in education and the community coordinating education programs through Western Washington University Continuing Education program, developed curriculum for K-12 students  called “Soil to Nutrition Program”, developed farm to restaurant program connecting farmers to restaurant owners, worked with local restaurants and institutions (WWU, PeaceHealth Bellingham Technical College, Bellingham Food Bank, Haggen) to create opportunities for local farm to table sales and offerings, as well as a vendor at the Bellingham Farmers Market and a farm member of Puget Sound Food Hub (a farmers cooperative) that aggregates and distributes local food products to buyers throughout the Puget Sound region. 

Jeff Voltz, Northwest Agriculture Business Center

With 25 years of retail grocery management and 10 years of farm-business development experience, Jeff is pleased to be working on the development of food systems that are values-driven and honor all stakeholders (including the earth, water, sky and wildlife). Jeff has served in executive positions with the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley, Community Food Co-op, and PCC Community Markets; He supported the start-ups of a number of farmer-owned cooperatives including Okanogan Producer Marketing Association, Puget Sound Food Hub, Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Co-op, and Southwest Washington Growers Cooperative.  Jeff has successfully presented more than 50 business, market  development, and planning workshops to agricultural producers throughout the Puget Sound region.

Dr. Rachel Wieme, Washington State University

Dr. Rachel Wieme is a soil scientist and postdoctoral research associate at WSU. Her research is focused on sustainable agriculture, particularly on measuring and promoting soil health. Recent work includes a study of organic crop rotations with quinoa for eastern Washington, along with an interdisciplinary fellowship on improving communication of scientific research for public policy. 

Hannah Wilson, Black Farmers Collective

Hannah is a Black, queer, deaf disabled woman who is the farm manager at Yes Farm under the Black Farmers Collective in Seattle. The Black Farmers Collective is a mutual aid network of Black-led, regenerative farms in partnership with other BIPOC farmers, organizers, and leaders creating a food system for healthier communities. We believe the key to a more sustainable, equitable future for communities of color requires addressing food insecurity and fighting for food sovereignty. Our two sites include Yes Farm and 4 acres located out in Woodinville, both of which are part of our efforts for land acquisition, BIPOC farmer development, community building, educational programs, and growing food.

Henry Wong, Business Insider NW

Henry Wong is the Director of the Food Business Resource Center (FBRC) & Special Projects at Business Impact NW. Henry is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Systems and Information Engineering. Prior to joining the Business Impact NW team, he spent 7 years working in the Strategy group at CarMax developing and implementing inventory and buying strategies. Following his time at CarMax, he spent 3 years running his own mobile food truck business and consulting other mobile food start-ups in Tennessee. After selling his food truck, he moved to Seattle where he worked briefly with a food delivery tech startup. He did contract work for some local nonprofit organizations, including Business Impact NW, before joining the organization full-time.

André-Denis Wright, Washington State University

Dr. Wright began his tenure as Dean of CAHNRS in June 2018. He comes to WSU from the University of Arizona, where he was an endowed Professor and Director of the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. Before joining the faculty at UA, he served as Chair of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Vermont, and Director of the Vermont Dairy Center of Excellence. For nearly two decades, Dr. Wright has been developing strategies to increase the efficiency of nutrient utilization in livestock and to raise the level of production of food in an ecologically sustainable way (i.e., decrease enteric methane). Several years ago, his research interests expanded to also include human gut microbiology. Dr. Wright’s internationally recognized research uses next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics to examine the gut microbiome of animals, including humans, to better understand the interactions between host genetics and immune responses with their gut microbiota. Dr. Wright received his Ph.D. from the University of Guelph in Canada and holds several professional accreditations, including Member of the American College of Gastroenterology. He has published 110 peer-reviewed papers, contributed 18 book chapters, presented 100 conference papers, and delivered 34 plenary lectures in 10 countries. Dr. Wright currently serves on several national boards and has served on review panels for the USDA, NSF, and NASA. He has also served as an external scientific reviewer for the governments of Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, Scotland, and Switzerland, and in 2008, he had a ciliated protozoan named after him, Apokeronopsis wrightii, in recognition of his contributions to microbiology.

Dorcas Young, Lesedi Farm

Lesedi Farm is a small, woman-owned, family farm founded on Whidbey Island, WA in 2008 by Dorcas Young along with her five children. Her family moved to the United States from Botswana in 1996. One of Dorcas’ priorities as a mother was to teach her children about healthy eating and sustainable farming practices. When she moved to the states, she looked for opportunities to start a farm and, because of the experience she had growing up on a farm in Botswana, she wanted to come back to it when she came to the United States. She is passionate about farming organically. In 2007, she started by leasing a few parcels at Green Bank Farm and an organic P-Patch garden. She quickly learned how to adjust her growing practices for the Northwest climate and within a year they were producing much more than their family could consume. This propelled them to start selling at two local farmers markets—the Bayview Farmers Market and the Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market. In 2009, she had the opportunity to attend an Organic Seed Alliance workshop at Green Bank Farm and learned even more about organic soil management, composting, and the importance of crop rotation. They implement all these practices on their farm today. One of her main farming goals was to learn about organic production of dry beans including some of the varieties she had saved from subsistence farming in Africa. During the Organic Seed Alliance workshop, she was gifted some heirloom, non-GMO dry beans and planted them along with the African Zebra beans. She saves seeds each year. Her current farm business has been in operation since 2009. In 2015, she received training through WSU School of Food Science, where she learned about farm value-added products. She is a WSDA licensed food processor for products such as dehydrated vegetables and sauces and an FDA approved acidified food processor. Finally, she sits on the board of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, which provides training to farmers and food businesses in the area. She is self-employed, and as a woman in agriculture, as well as an ethnic minority, she has come up against so many challenges to obtain a farm and be able to make this experience a reality.

Dr. Rich Zack, Washington State University

Dr. Rich Zack comes from the Department of Entomology at Washington State University where he serves as a professor and curator of the M. T. James Entomological Collection. Dr. Zack received his PhD degree in Entomology from WSU. Dr. Zack has taught numerous courses at WSU, but most of his efforts have been directed toward undergraduate, University Common Requirements (UCORE) courses designed for non-science students. Dr. Zack’s research interests include insect taxonomy and systematics, biological diversity, and pest management. He is interested in “rare” and unusual environments such as Palouse Prairie remnants, as well as habitats provided by the national parks and federal reserves. He has conducted extensive studies on the insects of the Hanford Nuclear Site, and his studies were instrumental in the naming of parts of the Site as a national monument. He also has ongoing biological diversity and invasive species studies in Guatemala and Micronesia. Dr. Zack has received numerous recognitions and awards including distinguished teaching awards from CAHNRS, the University, and his professional society. He was also named one of the Top Five Instructors as WSU as chosen by the students. Dr. Zack is very involved in outreach activities designed for K-12 students.

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