About the Soil Health Institute
The Soil Health Institute is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.
C. Wayne Honeycutt, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Dr. Wayne Honeycutt leads the Institute’s programs to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soils. He previously served for 5 years as the Deputy Chief for Science and Technology with USDA-NRCS in Washington, DC, where he led programs in technology acquisition, development, and transfer to ensure NRCS conservation practices reflect the latest scientific advances for conserving our nation’s soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources. He served as a Research Soil Scientist for 14 years and a Research Leader for 10 years with the USDA-ARS New England Plant, Soil, and Water Laboratory, where he led and conducted interdisciplinary research on carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling and sustainable cropping systems development. In those roles he led national research teams for predicting nutrient availability, developed procedures adopted by ARS for enhancing national research coordination, and received regional and national awards for technology transfer.
He is a graduate of the “Mastering the Art of Public Leadership” executive development program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC and USDA’s “Performance Excellence and Knowledge” executive development program. He has served on assignments to the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, USDA-ARS National Program Staff, and USDA-ARS Area Office Staff.
Dr. Honeycutt’s commitment to agriculture is rooted in his experiences with raising tobacco, corn, and other crops on his family’s 120-acre farm in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Forestry and Master's degree in Soil Science from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. in Soil Genesis from Colorado State University. He was the 2018 recipient of the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award, the highest honor bestowed on an individual by the Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Cristine Morgan, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Cristine Morgan is responsible for developing and establishing the scientific direction, strategy and implementation plan for Institute research programs and establishing the research priorities for the Institute. Her duties include leading the scientific research and coordinating projects carried out at various institutions that advance soil health science and result in useful and reportable results.
Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Morgan was Professor of Soil Science at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, where she was recognized for outstanding collaboration, teaching, research, and mentoring. Her emphasis was in soil hydrology, pedometrics, and global soil security. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Morgan conducted ground-breaking research on how management practices influence soil-plant-water relations. She also developed methods that were adopted by USDA for easily measuring soil carbon. She has a history of applying her knowledge for addressing real-world problems experienced by farmers and ranchers and is passionate about educating others.
Dr. Morgan serves on the board of directors for the Soil Science Society of America, is an editor in chief at the global soil science journal, Geoderma, and participates in committees for the International Union of Soil Sciences.
Dr. Morgan earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Soil Science Department (2000 and, 2003 respectively). Her B.S. degree is in Plant and Environmental Soil Sciences from Texas A&M University, magna cum laude (1998).
Chief Operating Officer
Sheldon Jones brings over 30 years of experience to the Institute, including a balance of private sector, non-profit and public service experience. Prior to joining SHI Mr. Jones served as Vice President at the Farm Foundation, NFP, from 2008 to 2016, where he oversaw the Foundation’s financial operations and project management activities. Mr. Jones's public service experience involved service as deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, 2004-2008. From 2002 until 2004, Mr. Jones was executive vice president of the Agri-Business Council of Arizona, the agricultural water and power membership organization. From 1997 until 2002, Mr. Jones was director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture. During his term, Mr. Jones was active in the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, serving as president of the organization in 2002. Mr. Jones worked in the banking industry for 14 years before beginning his career in government service. Mr. Jones earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Arizona State University.
Byron Rath is the Sustainability Specialist for the Soil Health Institute. Mr. Rath's duties include working with the Institute’s partners and stakeholders to help them achieve their goals through soil health. Prior to joining the Soil Health Institute, Mr. Rath taught Geography at the American Community School at Beirut in Lebanon, and worked for CCS, a global fundraising consulting and management firm that provides development services and strategic consulting to nonprofit organizations worldwide. Mr. Rath graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in English and Geography. He is proficient in written and spoken Arabic.
Archie Flanders, Ph.D.
Dr. Archie Flanders assesses the economics of soil health-promoting practices and land management systems using data from long-term agricultural experimental sites across North America and integrating that information with local on-farm data collected in strategic coordination with soil health partners. He works with producers and agricultural researchers to develop decision support tools that farmers and ranchers can use to make informed decisions about production practices on a field-by-field basis, optimizing soil health while realizing economic efficiencies.
Previously, Dr. Flanders served as a faculty member at the University of Georgia and the University of Arkansas with research and extension responsibilities in production economics, farm management, and economic development. He developed interactive economic decision tools for crop and livestock commodities, agricultural policy programs, and whole-farm analysis, which helped producers customize enterprise budgets to represent unique production situations.
Dr. Flanders is a member of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association as well as the Southern Agricultural Economics Association. He received his B.S.A. in General Agriculture, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia.
John Shanahan, Ph.D.
Dr John Shanahan manages the day-to-day activities of the Soil Health Institute’s Economic Assessment of Soil Health practices, a project made possible by the generosity of Cargill.
Dr. Shanahan’s 37-year career in the Agronomy field has spanned both public and private sectors with roles as Director of Agronomy at Fortigen fertilizer company, Agronomy Research Manager at DuPont Pioneer (now Corteva Agriscience), Research Agronomist at USDA-ARS, and Professor at Colorado State University. Dr. Shanahan has served the tri-societies (American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society and Soil Science Society) as elected division chair, ASA board rep, and chair of the ASA finance committee. He has also been named an ASA fellow and received the ASA Werner L. Nelson Award for Diagnosis of Yield-Limiting Factors. Dr. Shanahan received his B.S. in Agronomy from University of Nebraska, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Agronomy from Colorado State University.
Dianna Bagnall, Ph.D.
Research Soil Scientist
Dr. Dianna Bagnall serves as Research Soil Scientist for SHI. From 2014 to 2016, she served as a project manager for AgriLife Research's Corporate Relations Office, developing proposals and managing projects. She managed sponsored research projects in soil and crop science, renewable energy, and agricultural engineering. In 2016, she joined the newly established Soil Security Team at Texas A&M University composed of soil scientists, economists, and sociologists. Her Ph.D. research received departmental and international recognition and included on-farm soil health assessments, qualitative analysis of farmer interviews, and development of novel soil structure scanning methodology.
Dr. Bagnall received an M.S. in Soil Science at Texas A&M University in 2014 working on a National Science Foundation project. The research used both modeling and field experiments to investigate water movement on shrink-swell clay soils in Texas.
Communications and Administrative Specialist
Ms. Camille Hesterberg is a content strategist and social and public health advocate serving as the Communications and Administrative Specialist to promote conversations about soil health and the Soil Health Institute’s work. Prior to joining the team, Ms. Hesterberg served in a communications role for a private sector consulting firm. She has prior experience working in non-profits, think tanks, and educational institutions. Ms. Hesterberg has a master’s degree from Central European University, where she received a fellowship to study International Public Policy. Her bachelor’s degree is in Global Studies with minors in Spanish and Economics.
This project assesses 31 indicators of soil health, partnering with teams from long-term research sites and scientific laboratories across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements is supported through the generosity of grants from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and General Mills.
Paul Tracy, Ph.D.
Project Manager – Soil Science/Agronomy
Dr. Paul Tracy manages the day-to-day activities of the Soil Health Institute’s North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements. Dr. Tracy also leads SHI’s soil health indicators assessment project in Mexico.
Dr. Tracy’s 32-year career has spanned both public and private sectors with roles as the Director of Agronomy, Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies; Professional Agronomist, Pacific Northwest WinField Solutions; Director of Agronomy Services, MFA Incorporated; and Assistant/Associate Professor, University of Missouri. Dr. Tracy was elected Chairman to both the Missouri and International Certified Crop Advisor Boards and received the 2015 American Society of Agronomy, Agronomic Achievement/Agronomic Industrial Award. He has a B.S. in Agriculture (Soils Option) from Montana State University, an M.S. in Soil Chemistry from the University of Idaho, and a Ph.D. in Agronomy/Soil Science from Colorado State University.
Michael Cope, Ph.D.
Statistician and Database Manager
Dr. Michael Cope serves as the project’s statistician and database manager. Most recently, Dr. Cope served as a statistical and research analyst at Clemson University. His expertise includes analysis of large and assorted data. He is skilled in Python Programming, Soil Science, Geographic Information Systems, Ecological Modeling, and Cloud Computing.
Dr. Cope received his B.S. in Environmental Studies from Brevard College and his Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Clemson University.
G. Mac Bean, Ph.D.
Dr. G. Mac Bean serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. He also leads the team for soil health in soil pedology and genesis. Most recently, Dr. Bean focused on improving nitrogen fertilizer management as a graduate student at the University of Missouri.
Dr. Bean is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, the Soil Science Society of America, and the International Society of Precision Agriculture. He received his B.S. in Agricultural Science, Systems, and Technology from Brigham Young University-Idaho, his M.S. in Plant Science and his Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Missouri.
Shannon Cappellazzi, Ph.D.
Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the western United States and also leads the team for soil health in pastures and rangeland for SHI. Dr. Cappellazzi most recently served as Manager at the Oregon State University Central Analytical Laboratory. Earlier in her career, she was the Equestrian Manager for Wheelbarrow Creek Ranch and an agricultural commodities trader for Wilbur-Ellis Company.
Dr. Cappellazzi is a member of the Soil Science Society of America and serves as a board member of the Oregon Society of Soil Scientists. She received her B.S. in Animal Science and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Science from Oregon State University.
Kelsey L.H. Greub, Ph.D.
Dr. Kelsey Hoegenauer serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the southern United States. Most recently, Dr. Hoegenauer was a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas conducting research on recycling nutrients using cover crops in row crop systems. She also has served as a graduate research assistant at Auburn University conducting research on the long- and short-term effects of cover cropping on physical and chemical soil properties in a peanut-cotton rotation. As a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture (Noble Foundation), she conducted research on blackberry management in rangelands. Dr. Hoegenauer has certification as an Associate Professional Soil Scientist.
Dr. Hoegenauer is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, the Soil Science Society of America, and the Soil and Water Conservation Society. She received her B.S. in Agronomy from Texas A&M University, her M.S. in Plant Science from Auburn University, and her Ph.D. in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (Soil Fertility emphasis) from the University of Arkansas.
Daniel Liptzin, Ph.D.
Dr. Daniel Liptzin serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the High Plains. Dr. Liptzin recently served as a Senior Instructor at the University of Colorado, Denver, where he taught courses in biogeochemistry, environmental science, and climate. His research interests include exploring human effects on the nitrogen cycle, interactions among elemental cycles, redox-sensitive biogeochemistry, and ecosystem processes in seasonally snow-covered ecosystems. Dr. Liptzin is a member of the American Geophysical Union and an investigator at the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research Site in Colorado. He received his B.S. from Yale University, MES from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Charlotte Norris, Ph.D., P.Ag.
Dr. Charlotte Norris serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for Canada. Dr. Norris has collaborated on research determining best management practices for intensive vegetable production, assessing the effects of agricultural crops on soil health, and evaluating the effects of forest harvesting practices on soil quality. She also has investigated indicators of soil quality in reclaimed forest ecosystems.
Dr. Norris holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Victoria and received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Alberta. She is a registered Professional Agrologist.
Elizabeth (Liz) Rieke, Ph.D.
Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Rieke serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the northern Midwest and northeastern United States. She also leads the assessment of microbial population dynamics using genomic tools to identify microbial soil health indicators. Most recently, Dr. Rieke served as a postdoctoral research associate, Iowa State University Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Dr. Rieke is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. She received her B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, her M.S. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from Iowa State University.
Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton is a continuous engagement project to help U.S. cotton farmers increase soil health on their farms. The project seeks to quantify and expand the productivity, economic, and environmental benefits of soil health systems for participating farmers.
Project Manager - Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton
David Lamm spearheads soil health training and education programs for the Soil Health Institute’s Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton.
For 40 years, Mr. Lamm served in various positions within USDA-NRCS, including District Conservationist for the Ft. Wayne Field Office, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in Georgia, and Team Leader for the National Soil Health and Sustainability Team. He assisted with the USDA-NRCS Organic Agriculture and Sustainable Ag effort and worked with program policy, particularly for the Conservation Security Program. Mr. Lamm earned his B.S. in Natural Resources from Ball State University in 1978.
Mrs. Katie Harrigan is a graduate student pursuing a Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Policy through the Agriculture, Food and Environment program at Tufts University in Boston, MA. Her focus is on natural resource conservation in the U.S. food system. She is working with Dr. Wayne Honeycutt at the Soil Health Institute to research federal policies, assess their impact on soil health, and suggest ways to improve these policies. Mrs. Harrigan has a B.S. in Biology from Northeastern University. She worked in the biotechnology field in Boston for five years before seeking a degree to help secure the future of our food and environment.
Mrs. Janel Ohletz is a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Needs Ph.D. Fellow in the Crop and Soil Science Department at North Carolina State University. She is researching nutrient management in field corn using machine learning and remote sensing technology to gain a better understanding of dynamics in soil fertility. Mrs. Ohletz has B.S in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and an M.S. in Agricultural Science from the University of New Hampshire. She is committed to working toward a more sustainable and equitable food system. Mrs. Ohletz is also a classically trained chef and, prior to returning to school, worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. She believes in making an impact by being part of the conversation for changing our food and agricultural systems.
Ms. Janeva Williams is an undergraduate student attending North Carolina A&T State University. Majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Land Management, Ms. Williams aspires to work with soil conservationists and scientists on an international level to improve soil health. She joined two major organizations called MANRRS (Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences) and the Climate Justice League, each of them is about improving the environment and creating self-awareness. Ms. Williams is a student intern for the summer working at SHI in data collection and interpretation.
Soil Health Institute Board of Directors (L-R): Steven Rhines, Noble Research Institute; Robert Foster, Foster Brothers Farm, Inc.; Neal Martin; Bruce Knight, Strategic Conservation Solutions, LLC; Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute; Klaas Martens, Lakeview Organic Grain; Diana Jerkins, Organic Farming Research Foundation; C. Wesley Wood, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences West Florida Research and Education Center; Lara Beal Moody, P.E., The Fertilizer Institute; Earl Garber; Andrew LaVigne, American Seed Trade Association; William Buckner; Jay Vroom, Vroom•Leigh•Agriculture, LLC; V. Larkin Martin, Martin Farm; Wayne Honeycutt, Soil Health Institute
Not Pictured: William G. Flory; Clare Lindahl, Soil and Water Conservation Society; Greg Ruehle, Servi-Tech, Inc.; Jason Weller, Land O'Lakes
William (Bill) Buckner
Bill Buckner is the past President/CEO of the Noble Research Institute, LLC, and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. The Noble Research Institute, an Agricultural Research Organization, conducts research, education and consultation activities, with its mission being “to deliver solutions to great agricultural challenges.” Philanthropic activities, including grant making and scholarship programs, take place in the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Mr. Buckner joined Noble in January 2012.
After obtaining his BS degree in Agricultural Economics from the Univ. of Missouri-Columbia in 1980, Mr. Buckner gained experience in the agricultural industry in areas of agriculture retail, agriculture lending and animal health.
In 1993, Mr. Buckner joined Bayer AG as a Marketing Executive in their Animal Health business unit located in Shawnee Mission, KS. He moved to Monheim, Germany, in 1996 where he worked for the Animal Health Business Group as a Business Development Mgr. He became VP/General Mgr. of Bayer's Canadian Agricultural business in Toronto in 1998. Mr. Buckner was appointed President/CEO of Bayer CropScience, Inc., in Calgary, Alberta in 2002. He relocated to Research Triangle Park, NC, as Sr. VP of Commercial Operations for Bayer CropScience LP in 2004 and was appointed Country Head for the U.S. Crop Protection business in 2005. He was elected President/CEO of Bayer CropScience, LP in April 2006 and retired in December 2011.
Mr. Buckner currently serves on the boards of the Soil Health Institute (board chair), Wilbur-Ellis Company, and Mercy Hospital Ardmore. Mr. Buckner also serves as an industry advisor to the board of Trace Genomics, Inc. He had previously served on the boards of the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Liberty Foundation, Farm Foundation, CropLife Canada and CropLife America, where he served a term as Board Chair.
William G. (Bill) Flory
Since 1904, Bill Flory is the fourth generation family member to farm the fertile soils of the rolling Camas Prairie in north central Idaho, just adjacent to the Washington, Oregon, Idaho border intersection. The diversified operation’s continuous crops include four classes of wheat, bluegrass seed, canola, lentils, garbanzos, malt barley, and hay.
Soil health and plant health are a primary focus in the operation that has been utilizing direct seed and leading technologies for the past 25 years. Some of these include site specific soil and tissue testing; soil amendments; field zoning; and detailed micronutrient and growth regulator utilization.
Mr. Flory currently is president of Flory Farms; board chairman of the wheat industry’s Wheat Marketing Center in Portland; a commissioner and past chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission; a member of the Farm Foundation Roundtable; a member of US Bank’s advisory board; and a director of the Lewiston Roundup.
Mr. Flory’s past involvement includes board member, committee chair, and president of both the Idaho Grain Producers and the National Association of Wheat Growers; and commissioner and chairman of the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission. In 1977 Mr. Flory earned a B.S. in finance from the University of Idaho.
Foster Brothers Farm, Inc.
Bob Foster and his family run a thriving 1,800 acre farm located in Middlebury, Vermont. In 2018, Foster was inducted into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame, recognized for Lifetime Achievement: 30+ years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture. Mr. Foster is a fourth-generation farmer who received his undergraduate and Masters degrees from University of Vermont in Agricultural Engineering and Agriculture Economics. The Fosters were one of the pioneers of "Cow Power" with Mr. Foster actually coining the term. A proponent of bioenergy, the Fosters were among the earliest to install an anaerobic digester on their farm.
The Fosters have developed one of the largest compost companies in New England. They gather residual nutrients from their own and neighbors' farms, process manure for use as fertilizer, blend the different formulas together, and distribute the resulting product (through their company, Vermont Natural Ag Products, as MOO™ Doo) throughout New England as fertilizer and soil amendments.
Mr. Foster served 37 years as a director on the Agrimark Board of Directors. He chairs the Board of Advisors of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont.
Earl Garber, former President of the National Association of Conservation Districts, is a licensed crop sconsultant and rice, soybean and hay producer from Louisiana. He started his involvement in conservation as a Soil Scientist, Soil Conservationist and District Conservationist with the USDA. He has been active on the Acadia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors in Southwestern Louisiana since 1981. Mr. Garber recently served as the President of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts. He also held the position of Louisiana Board Member for the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Mr. Garber has his own farming operation, which includes 670 acres of rice, soybeans, grain sorghum, timber and commercial hay production. Mr. Garber also provides daily service to area producers as a Louisiana licensed crop consultant and field services manager for Sanders, Inc., Seed Company. Mr. Garber and his wife, Janis Landry, live and farm in the northwestern portion of Acadia Parish, Louisiana.
Organic Farming Research Foundation
Dr. Diana Jerkins has been involved in multiple roles with educational institutions, state and federal governments and non-profit organizations in supporting the advancement of sustainable agriculture in the US and internationally. Currently, she is the Research Director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation in California leading their efforts to provide direct funding to researchers, farmers and ranchers to conduct scientific research and educational advancements for organic producers.
For eleven years, Dr. Jerkins was a National Program Leader and Division Director for Integrated Programs with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). She managed competitive programs in the areas of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, managed ecosystems, invasive species, small and mid-sized farm prosperity, rural development, and Native American outreach. She had leadership responsibilities for development and management of NIFA competitive Climate Change and Food Systems Integrated Programs. As co-leader of the Science for Sustainability working group, she led agency-wide activities supporting sustainable and organic agriculture programs. Interagency activities were in the areas of Long Term Agricultural Research programs (LTAR), chairing the NIFA Ecosystem Services Working Group, and NIFA liaison to the NASULGC Board on Natural Resources, USA National Phenology Network, and OSTP Ecosystem Service Task Team. She has lead efforts in the development of new programs within NIFA such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) and an interagency program with EPA on Enhancing Ecosystem Services for Agricultural Lands.
Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Jerkins directed the Center for Regenerative Studies (CSRS) at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona California. CSRS is an educational and residential intentional community where students learn and live in a sustainable environment based on passive-solar building, energy, water, and food systems. She was also a teaching and research faculty member with the College of Agriculture. Her graduate work was at the University of Georgia with degrees in Agronomy and Entomology. She consults internationally on sustainable agriculture issues. Professional activities and professional associations have include the Agronomy, Crop, and Soil Science Societies; Ecological Society of America; Federal Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability working group; and USDA Sustainable Development Council.
Bruce I. Knight
Principal and Founder
Strategic Conservation Solutions, LLC
Bruce Knight is a nationally recognized expert on conservation, agriculture and the environment. With a long track record of bringing strategic workable solutions to complex and controversial issues, he understands the workings of farm and conservation policy from the grassroots to the national level. Coupled with his national policymaking experience is a pragmatic approach to issues harvested from his personal farming enterprise.
Today, as a consultant focused on conservation and environmental issues related to agriculture, Mr. Knight provides a visionary and unique perspective on the future of conservation policies. He understands the potential value to his clients in agriculture, environment, wildlife and food systems of cutting-edge ideas and strategies such as carbon markets and other ecosystem services. Drawing on his experience as a former association executive, lobbyist, regulator and Capitol Hill staffer, Mr. Knight has a broad understanding of how Washington works. But he also brings firsthand knowledge of farming to his national policymaking credentials. Mr. Knight was the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 2006-2009. In this post, he provided leadership and oversight for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration. These agencies protect animals and plants and promote fair, open and orderly markets for U.S. agricultural products. Safeguarding America’s flocks, fields and forests from pests and diseases is worth billions of dollars in losses avoided by farmers and ranchers.
From 2002 to 2006, Mr. Knight served as Chief of Natural Resources Conservation Service, the lead USDA agency for conservation on private working agricultural lands. During the nearly five years under his leadership, the agency assisted 1 million farmers and ranchers in applying conservation on more than 130 million acres of working farm and ranchlands. Mr. Knight provided the strategic vision for the development, implementation and management of the largest expansion of working lands conservation programs in the agency’s history.
A third-generation rancher and farmer and lifelong conservationist, Mr. Knight operates a diversified grain and cattle operation using no-till and rest rotation grazing systems. His farming and ranching background gives him the opportunity to practice stewardship and husbandry, providing firsthand knowledge of the interdependency of animal, plant and human health with the environment. Mr. Knight attended South Dakota University. He is married and has two children. He is a member of the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Virginia and is an avid sportsman.
Andrew (Andy) W. LaVigne
President and CEO
American Seed Trade Association
Andrew W. LaVigne is currently the President and CEO of the American Seed Trade Association. He joined ASTA in February, 2006. Mr. LaVigne has had a 25-year career in government relations, industry representation, public affairs advocacy, and management. His core areas of expertise include agriculture, food policy and international trade.
Prior to joining ASTA, Mr. LaVigne was Executive Vice President/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, representing citrus growers on issues affecting their business. Previous to joining Florida Citrus Mutual, Mr. LaVigne spent four years as Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association’s (FFAA) President and Executive Director. FFAA is a non-profit, agricultural trade organization representing companies that specialize in crop protection and plant nutrition products.
Before his position at FFAA, Mr. LaVigne spent eight years in Washington, D.C. working in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He served as Legislative Director for Congressman Charles Canady and as Agriculture Committee staffer for Congressman Tom Lewis.
Mr. LaVigne is a native of Florida with a BA degree in Political Science from the University of Florida and a Minor in Economics.
Soil and Water Conservation Society
Clare Lindahl is chief executive officer of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. Ms. Lindahl is in charge of public affairs, program development, governance, and special projects.
She previously served as the executive director for Conservation Districts of Iowa and as natural resources program manager with River Action, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering the environmental, economic, and cultural vitality of the Mississippi River and its riverfront in the Quad Cities. Ms. Lindahl has worked with communities and farmers through the Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District and Partners of Scott County Watersheds in Davenport to improve water quality in Duck Creek and other local streams that flow into the Mississippi River.
Ms. Lindahl holds a degree in landscape architecture from Iowa State and received her post-baccalaureate certificate in environmental geographic systems from Western Illinois University. A native of Moline, Illinois, she currently works and resides in Des Moines, Iowa.
Lakeview Organic Grain
Klaas Martens has been farming for over 45 years. He and his partner, Mary Howell, spent their first 20 years farming conventionally and began transitioning to organic in 1993. Together, with their son Peter, they farm 1600 acres of a wide diversity of certified organic crops, and own and operate Lakeview Organic Grain, a certified organic animal feed and seed business.
They double crop a substantial acreage and cover crop all of our land each year. Mr. Martens works closely with researchers at Cornell who study soil health and organic farming systems, and has reviewed three SARE grants for on-farm research. In addition to the SARE projects, Mr. Martens published papers on organic fertility management. He and Mary-Howell have written many articles on organic farm management for publications including New Farm, Acres USA, and Organic Broadcaster. Mr. Martens is on the Soil Health Institute Board of Directors, the Organic Farming Research Foundation Board of Directors, the Farm Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Yates County conservation district Board of Directors (20 years).
V. Larkin Martin
V. Larkin Martin manages her family’s row crop farming operation in Lawrence County, Alabama. Ms. Martin currently is a director of Rayonier Inc., a timberland REIT, and Chair of The Farm Foundation Board of Directors. She is Vice Chair of the Alabama Ethics Commission and a member of the Board of Directors of multiple organizations, including The Public Research Affairs Council of Alabama; Africa Harvest, a Kenyan based NGO; and the Vanderbilt Alumni Association. She has served as director and past Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as well as The Cotton Board, and has been a director of The Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and Leadership Alabama. Ms. Martin was named an Eisenhower Fellow in 2012.
After graduating from Vanderbilt with a BA degree and prior to returning to the farm Ms. Martin lived in Washington, DC and held jobs in at the US Treasury Department and with Arthur Andersen. She is married to John Thornton and they have 4 children.
Dr. Neal Martin, retired Director of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, USDA-ARS in Madison, Wisc. has broad experience in communications and outreach in extension; respected knowledge of forage and dairy management as well as environmental stewardship, experience in management and leadership of a major research organization; and extensive personal connections to dairy producers and small-farm communities.
Dr. Martin and his wife currently operate a small highbush blueberry farm in northern Ohio. He was reared on a dairy farm in northern Ohio. He obtained a Ph.D. in agronomy and animal science and pursued interests in forage and grassland science at Iowa State University. Dr. Martin was a forage extension specialist at the University of Minnesota from 1974 to 1999 prior to joining USDA-ARS in 1999.
Lara Beal Moody, P.E.
Vice President, Stewardship and Sustainability
The Fertilizer Institute
Lara Moody, Vice President of Stewardship and Sustainability Programs at The Fertilizer Institute (TFI). She joined TFI in 2004 and is responsible for directing development and implementation of the Institute’s programs to increase the use and adoption of fertilizer best management practices and for leading development and delivery of an industry sustainability initiative addressing fertilizer production, fertilizer use, and the food supply chain.
Since 2005, Ms. Moody has served on the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) Board of Directors, currently in the role Chair. She also serves on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Air Quality Task Force. Within the fertilizer industry, she oversees the 4R Research Fund Management Committee and manages the TFI’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship Committee.
Prior to joining TFI, she performed research and extension efforts in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department at Iowa State University in the area of manure and wastewater handling and treatment and nutrient management planning. Ms. Moody served as the program manager for the Agricultural Waste Management Laboratory at Iowa State University where she managed projects and coordinated regional and national research and extension efforts.
Ms. Moody is a Registered Professional Engineer who received a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering and Master of Science degree in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Jeff Moyer, Executive Director of Rodale Institute, is a world renowned authority in organic agriculture. His expertise includes organic crop production systems with a focus on weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. Mr. Moyer is perhaps most well-known for conceptualizing and popularizing the No Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture. In 2011, he wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.
Mr. Moyer brings a farmer’s perspective and approach to issues in organic agriculture. He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board, a founding board member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, the Chairman of the Board of Director of The Seed Farm, part of the Green America Non-GMO Working Group, a Project Member of The Noble Foundation’s Soil Renaissance project, and a Board Member of PA Farm Link.
In September 2015, Mr. Moyer was appointed as Executive Director of Rodale Institute after spending the last four decades at the Institute, helping countless farmers make the transition from conventional, chemical-based farming to organic methods.
President & CEO
Noble Research Institute
Steven Rhines serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Noble Research Institute, LLC. Prior to assuming this position, he served as Vice President, General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs for the Institute for almost two decades. Prior to the Institute, he practiced patent law at the international law firm of Sidley & Austin. Mr. Rhines received a bachelor in science in mechanical engineering at the University of Oklahoma and a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University. The Institute is a nonprofit institution conducting US-focused research, agriculture consultation and educational programs to advance land stewardship in livestock production with producer profitability.
Mr. Rhines is member of the Oklahoma Science and Technology Research and Development Board and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Committee for Conflicts of Interest. He is also a director of the Glen Foundation and Kingery Drilling Co., Inc.
President & CEO
Greg Ruehle serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer for Servi-Tech, the nation’s largest independent agronomic firm. In this role, Mr. Ruehle manages a diverse staff of nearly 200 agronomists, laboratory technicians, information technology, sales and communication staff members across the company’s 8-state footprint. Annually, Servi-Tech agronomists consult on nearly 1 million acres of agricultural land for growers and the cooperative-owners of the company. Additionally, Servi-Tech has three laboratory locations (Dodge City, KS; Hastings, NE: and Amarillo, TX) that evaluate nearly a half-million agricultural samples (soils, feeds, environmental samples, etc.) annually. Servi-Tech is headquartered in Dodge City in southwestern Kansas.
Mr. Ruehle also served as Chief Executive Officer for the Independent Professional Seed Association, based in Omaha, NE. In this capacity, Mr. Ruehle managed the day-to-day administrative and fiduciary responsibilities for a national trade association representing nearly 100 independently-owned seed companies throughout the US and Canada. Mr. Ruehle served in this position from November 2005 through January 2015. Mr. Ruehle also served for 10 years as the Executive Vice President of the Nebraska Cattlemen, with primary association management and government affairs responsibilities for the nearly 5,000-member statewide group. In addition to managing a staff of twelve, Mr. Ruehle managed state and federal government relations and represented the Association as a speaker before numerous statewide, national and international audiences.
Mr. Ruehle’s association career began with the National Cattlemen’s Association (now National Cattlemen’s Beef Association), where he served in various positions, including Director of Private Lands, Water and Environment in the Washington, DC government affairs office. Mr. Ruehle represented the Association before Congress, Federal agencies and the Administration on a range of environmental and natural resource policy areas.
Mr. Ruehle has a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Agriculture from Oklahoma State University, as well as having graduated from the Ranch Management Program at Texas Christian University. Mr. Ruehle and his wife, along with their two children have relocated to Dodge City from eastern Nebraska. The family also maintains a diversified, family-owned livestock operation in eastern Ford County near Dodge City.
Jay Vroom is Chief Innovation Officer of Vroom ∙ Leigh ∙ Agriculture, LLC. where he oversees strategic consulting services and entrepreneurial investments in modern agriculture platforms and related technology sectors.
From 1989-2018, Mr. Vroom served as president and chief executive officer of CropLife America (CLA), the leading U.S. trade group for the crop protection industry in the United States. He also served as a founding member and chairman of CropLife Foundation. Earlier in his career, Mr. Vroom held executive positions in the National Fertilizer Solutions Association (now the Ag Retailers Association), The Fertilizer Institute, and the Merchants Exchange of St. Louis. Currently, Mr. Vroom partners with three consultancy groups: The Context Network (strategic global business consulting practice); DC Legislative and Regulatory Services (Washington government affairs practice); and FLM Harvest (communications and marketing practice). He serves as the Chairman of the Trust In Food™ advisory board. He volunteers as a member of the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees (and is the FFA individual giving chair for 2017-19); the Board of CropLife Foundation; and the National Wheat Foundation Board.
Mr. Vroom graduated with honors from the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Mr. Vroom was reared on a grain and livestock farm in north-central Illinois and continues to own the farming operation.
Senior Director of Sustainability
Jason Weller joined Land O’Lakes, Inc., in 2017 as senior director of sustainability where he will lead providing environmental sustainability and agricultural production solutions for the cooperative’s members and owners.
Mr. Weller previously served as Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the nation’s largest working lands conservation organization, where he led a staff of 10,500 employees across the country that works one-on-one with farmers and ranchers to deliver assistance to protect and improve the quality of their operations’ natural resources. While at NRCS, Mr. Weller led the effort to significantly expand the agency’s new partnerships with public and private organizations—including agricultural retailers, agricultural supply chain companies, and food companies—to provide innovative and effective services for agricultural producers. Mr. Weller also provided the strategic leadership for NRCS’s expanded focus on and investment into soil health, including providing significant financial and technical assistance for public-private partnerships to launch on-the-ground soil health demonstration and education projects, as well leading the creation of NRCS’s new Soil Health Division that is helping to advance the agricultural and conservation communities’ understanding of soil health management.
Prior to serving as Chief, Mr. Weller held various agriculture and natural resource conservation leadership positions, including on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture where he provided oversight and crafted legislation to fund USDA programs and activities; on the U.S. House Budget Committee where he helped construct the annual congressional budget for agriculture, environment and energy programs; and in the White House Office of Management and Budget where he assisted with the development and implementation of the president’s budget for USDA conservation programs.
Mr. Weller earned a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and a master of public policy degree from the University of Michigan.
C. Wesley (Wes) Wood
Professor | Center Director
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences West Florida Research and Education Center
Dr. C. Wesley (Wes) Wood is Professor of Soil and Water Science and Center Director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences West Florida Research and Education Center located on two campuses (Milton and Jay). Dr. Wood provides administrative leadership and support for teaching, research and extension programs essential to the agricultural, natural resource conservation, environmental and consumer interests of the Florida Panhandle.
Prior to joining the University of Florida in 2014, Dr. Wood was a Professor of Soil Science at Auburn University where he taught and conducted research on carbon and nutrient cycling in managed and natural ecosystems. He has published more than 140 refereed journal articles on those topics.
Dr. Wood has conducted research in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Tanzania, Ecuador, India, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, Peru, Thailand, Honduras, Mexico, The Philippines, Haiti, and New Zealand. He served as Associate Editor and later as the Soil Science Technical Editor for the Agronomy Journal. He has received awards for his research, is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, and is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America.