SAEA Steering Council
The Steering Council is charged with overall governance of the Association, with oversight of the Association’s finances and management, and with ensuring that the membership is fairly represented in the committees and activities of the Association.
Sarah Berquist || University of Massachusetts, Amherst
I am currently full-time lecturer and advisor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in our Sustainable Food and Farming program. I offer contemplative and participatory courses in farm-based agriculture education, social justice, food systems, and personal sustainability. Experiential learning is at the heart of my teaching philosophy and I love getting my hands dirty with my students in the field. I strive to equip my students with practical life skills: the ability to grow their own food, confidence in leading others, community organizing, and critical systems thinking to solve real-world problems. The SAEA has seen me grow from an undergraduate student to full-time faculty and provided incredible support in this transition through conferences, collaborations, and resources. In addition to teaching and advising full-time, I manage the Food for All Garden, a ¾ acre plot at the UMass Agricultural Learning Center where students grow food for local relief organizations and study food security. I am excited to serve as a member SAEA Steering Council to share my organizational and facilitation skills and continue to learn from the experience and wisdom present in the network.
Maywa Montenegro || University of California, Davis
Maywa Montenegro, a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California-Davis, draws on political ecology, science and technology studies, and rural sociology to address issues of seed diversity and access to it. Her research spans the development of gene editing technologies to the emergence of social movement-scientist partnerships advancing agroecology, food and seed sovereignty, and alternatives to intellectual property. She holds a BA from Williams College, an MS from M.I.T., and a PhD from UC Berkeley.
Will Valley || University of British Columbia
Since 2014, I have been an instructor
in the Applied Biology program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. I am also the academic director of the Land, Food and Community (LFC) Series, a set of courses, from 1st through 4th year, that form the core curricula of the faculty, which bring students from the diverse set of disciplines in the faculty to work on issues of food system sustainability, food security, and food sovereignty. Prior to entering graduate school, I taught elementary and secondary sciences as well as conducted farmer outreach for management of species-at-risk in agricultural settings. My current research focus is on identifying common curricular and pedagogical themes within sustainable food system education programs in order to analyze, collaboratively evaluate, and improve stakeholder experiences and outcomes (e.g. students, community members, and instructors). I am also involved in research that analyzes urban agriculture and municipal policy, and the design, development, and assessment of K-12 school food systems, from growing, preparing, sharing, and managing “waste”, to policy, procurement, school food environment assessments, and curricular design. I am also co-director/owner of an urban farming business in Vancouver, Inner City Farms
We grow food in multiple residential spaces within the city (roughly 3/4 of an acre) and distribute our produce
through a CSA model to 13 restaurants and 50 households.
Colin Dring || Ph.D. Student at University of British Columbia
Colin Dring is an advocate for ecological sustainability built through a collaborative network of intercultural change agents. He is a community developer, a change facilitator, a researcher, a connector, and a lover of the outdoors. He has over ten years of experience in the field of community food security, agricultural planning, community development, and agri-food policy.
Before pursuing his doctoral studies, Colin completed an undergraduate degree in Soil Science (University of British Columbia, 2009) and a Master’s of Science in Rural Planning (University of Guelph, 2012). Colin has worked with multiple levels of federal government including Environment Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as part of the Research Affiliate Program. He currently serves as Chair of the BC Food Systems Network, Secretary of the Sustainable Agricultural Education Association, and on the Working Group for Food Justice with the Vancouver Food Policy Council.
Colin Dring is now pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. His research project is titled: “(In)Visible Minority Farmers & Canadian Food Systems in Transition: Governance & Representation.” This work inspires Colin’s studies in the advancement of equitable food systems and greater civic engagement through food and agricultural planning. In his spare time, he climbs rocks, hikes BC’s rugged landscapes, and samples Vancouver’s cuisine and microbreweries.
Krista Jacobsen || Assistant Professor- University of Kentucky
Krista is an Assistant Professor, she teaches and advises in UK’s Sustainable Agriculture Undergraduate Degree Program. Her courses include Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture (SAG 101), Plant Production Systems (PLS 386, co-taught with Dr. Mark Williams), Agroecology (SAG 390) and a summer study abroad to Indonesia in Tropical Agroecology and Sustainable Development.
Dr. Jacobsen’s research focuses on evaluating the effects of sustainable agricultural systems on soil quality and fertility in sustainable and organic farming systems, with an emphasis on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling. An agroecologist
by training, Krista and the members of her lab work from an interdisciplinary, systems perspective. This includes understanding not only the functioning of alternative horticultural systems but also considering the social and economic fabric within which these systems are woven.
Jennifer Nicklay || University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Jennifer is a second-year Ph.D. student in Land and Atmospheric Science at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where she also received her B.S. in Biology (with minors in Social Justice and Global Studies). Before returning to graduate school, she worked as a Quality Assurance Specialist at Epic (a software company) and then as Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, a non-profit arts education organization. But Jennifer missed working in food and agriculture, so after a much needed 5-year break, Jennifer returned to graduate school. She is passionate about conducting research that creates knowledge to support the development of equitable and sustainable food systems. Her current research is rooted in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she is working with a team of academics, community organizations, and farmers to collaboratively explore the ecosystem services provided by urban agriculture. Outside of school, Jennifer helps coordinate a community garden, buzzes around the Twin Cities on her bike, and attends far too many theater shows.
Jennifer Blesh || University of Michigan
I am an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems in
the University of Michigan’s (UM) School of Natural Resources and Environment. As a broadly trained agroecologist
, I use interdisciplinary research approaches to assess ecological
and social outcomes of diverse agrifood system models. I teach courses on food systems, agroecosystem management, and food sovereignty as part of our new Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, where I am actively involved in program and curriculum development. I am also co-investigator on a USDA Higher Education Challenge grant aiming to increase the diversity of students participating in our growing food systems program. My interest in sustainable agriculture education was sparked when I was a graduate student seeking to advance the types of innovative educational opportunities in sustainable agriculture that are now rapidly proliferating. At that time, I was an organizer of the conference at which the SAEA formally launched, and then was a member of the SAEA Steering Council between 2010 and 2012. I am very familiar with and excited by the critical work of the SAEA. I would be thrilled to work closely with the organization once again as a Member Representative.
Damian Parr || University of California- Santa Cruz
I am the Research and Education Coordinator at the University of California, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). I began mixed vegetable organic truck farming in high school (1989), was a UCSC Farm & Garden Apprentice in 1991, and an Environmental Studies/Agroecology undergraduate at UCSC in 2000. I completed a M.Sc.
in International Agriculture Development (2003) and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Environmental Education at UC Davis (2009). For much of my graduate work and Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010) at the UC Davis, I worked with colleagues at the Student Farm and Agricultural Sustainability Institute designing and implementing the new UC Davis Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems B.Sc. degree program. Beyond organic farming, my professional interests include,
experiential and transformational learning, critical pedagogy, and participatory action research. I am a co-founder and Past-Chair of the SAEA.
Emily has been involved in sustainable agriculture education and food justice work for nearly 10 years. Originally from western MA, she has worked with a number of farms and community gardens along with agriculture education organizations in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Guatemala, and India. After completing her BA in Global Studies from Warren Wilson College in 2012, her passion for experiential sustainable agriculture education deepened while working as an elementary school garden educator. She is a strong advocate for holistic educational experiences that weave together the importance of social equity and environmental sustainability in our food systems. She recently completed her MS in Sustainability Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she focused on the power of community institutions to support resilient and just food systems. In her other current role, she is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the up-and-coming Common Share Food Co-op in Amherst, MA. She is very grateful to be a part of the SAEA team serving as the Outreach Coordinator.