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.


megan_fehrman 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. 

Vice Chair

 height=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.


Kido Pielack || Keep Growing Detroit
I am the Education Coordinator at Keep Growing Detroit, a non-profit organization that supports a network of 1,500 urban gardens and farms in the Motor City. I am a native Detroiter who has been working in the field of Urban Agriculture for the past 7 years. My passion for plants and people led me from a career in organic landscaping to an apprenticeship in urban agriculture and studies with the MSU Student Organic Farmer Training Program in 2007. This training set the foundation for my current position coordinating and teaching adult agriculture education programming with Keep Growing Detroit. I teach on a variety of topics from gardening fundamentals and beekeeping to small-scale farm planning and season extension techniques. I also mentor local Detroiters as they prepare to teach classes. I love sharing my skills with others and believes that in the classroom everyone has something to share and there is always something new to learn. As a member of the SAEA steering committee I would like to help build connections and increase relevance of programming for urban growers as well as growing the network of urban agriculture educators.


P7060274Krista Jacobsen || University of Kentucky
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Kentucky, and teach a number of courses in our Sustainable Agriculture Undergraduate Degree Program. I am an agroecologist, with a research focus on nutrient cycling and plant productivity in organic farming systems. I use research approaches that integrate environmental and economic metrics to say something about the sustainability of organic and alternative farming systems.  In my classes, I focus on facilitating students’ development of a nuanced, interdisciplinary perspective on issues in sustainable agriculture, and to apply these concepts in place-based, experiential learning environments including local farms and farmer’s markets.  I have a growing interest in education abroad in Southeast Asia, and working with students to think about sustainable agriculture from cross-cultural and global perspectives. I have been involved with the SAEA as a member since the Cornell Conference.  Having been inspired by this committed community of teachers and learners since that time, I was very pleased to work with colleagues at UK and Virginia Tech as co-Chair of the Conference Committee to host the 2011 National Conference.   As treasure, I would look forward to working with this great Steering Council and our membership to grow this great organization in numbers, national-level programming linking sustainable agriculture programs from various institutions on targeted initiatives, and increasing our national recognition.  

Past Chair

 megan_fehrman  Megan Fehrman || Rogue Farm Corps
I grew up in the Midwest and earned an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Economics and International Relations at the University of Wisconsin. After moving to the West Coast, I earned a Masters Degree in Community Food Systems and Agroecology at Portland State University. Since then, I have spent the last 7 years working on agricultural education, small farms advocacy, and community organizing for a more just, healthful, and sustainable food system at the state and regional level. For the last several years, I have lived in the Little Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon on an organic vegetable and seed farm. Participating in an agricultural community and rural life informs my work greatly- I am lucky to be able to work on the farm and from the farm. I became involved with the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association as the Outreach Coordinator in 2013 and am excited to move into a leadership role on the Steering Council. In addition, I am the Education Director for the Rogue Farm Corps, a non-profit that works with commercial farmers and ranchers to provide hands-on training for the next generation. 

Student Representative

Lorien Lorien E. MacAuley || PhD Student, Virginia Tech
Before returning to graduate school, Lorien worked for nine years in governmental and nongovernmental organizations, on projects of youth gardening, farmers market promotion, and other outdoor education. She has worked independently and in teams to coordinate events, ranging from large multi-day conferences, fundraisers, week-long overnight camps, to small afternoon programs. At her last job before graduate school as Green Education Coordinator for a small nonprofit in West Virginia, she successfully developed $30,000 in cash funds from grants and fundraising efforts, towards the youth gardening program. She also has worked on an organic vegetable farm (two harvest seasons), landscaping, at several restaurants, and a packaging plant, among other places. Her experience as a food system worker in a variety of different workplaces informs her academic work every way. Lorien is currently in the second year of a PhD program in Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education at Virginia Tech. Lorien focuses her research efforts on beginning farmer preparation, community-based food systems initiatives, community food security, and labor issues within the food system. A critical pedagogist at heart, she is passionate about listening to the stories of those whose voices are typically marginalized in society and in agriculture. In her spare time (what little graduate school leaves her!), she was her department’s representative to the graduate student association last year. She also sits on the advisory board for Southwest Virginia Fresh, a nonprofit that focuses on local food promotion. She also loves hiking, backpacking, beekeeping, gardening, and generally seeking out amazing experiences.

Student Representative

Devin Devin Foote || Graduate Student, Michigan State University
Devin is a current MS student in the Department of Community Sustainability and graduate affiliate with the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University. His research focuses on small farm viability of Michigan fruit and vegetable growers. Broadly speaking his research interests include: small farm viability, value-based supply chains, community food systems, entrepreneurship and agriculture-nutrition linkages. A native of mid-Michigan Devin grew up with vegetable, dairy, and commodity farming. He completed his undergraduate education from Michigan State’s Lyman Briggs School in 2007 studying Environmental Science and Human Biology. Upon graduation he managed direct market and CSA farms in New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island communities. From 2008-09 he worked with national leaders in food and agriculture while at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy as a program assistant with their Food an Society Fellowship program. In 2009-10′ he transitioned to work with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s staff on Agriculture, Health, and Trade policy agendas while in Washington D.C. Since 2010 he has been an educator, farm manager, site developer and aggregator of all things Grown in Detroit through the efforts of the Garden Resource Program; a program which works to support over 1400 gardens in Detroit and seeks to support Detroit residents in developing a more robust local and regional food system. He has a strong passion for agricultural education and desire to learn from others through place-based education.

Student Representative

Maywa Montenegro || University of California, Berkeley
I am a US-Dutch-Peruvian citizen who grew up in Appalachia, studied molecular biology in New England, worked as a science journalist in New York City, and then migrated West to pursue a PhD in sustainable food & agriculture. As a graduate student in the at the University of California, Berkeley, I study seeds — in particular, the policies and politics of access to seed diversity, and how different strategies of governance, research, and plant breeding shape what seed is and whose agriculture is legitimized. The colonizing/decolonizing experiences of farmers in Southern and Northern countries inform my personal and professional interests in agroecology, and engenders a strong desire to explore synergies between western science and indigenous/traditional knowledges that have historically been devalued and marginalized. As a member of the conference organizing committee for SAEA 2016, I helped focus the event on some of these themes, which appear infrequently on sustainable ag agendas. I am learning an incredible amount too. Every day I work with SAEA, I gain greater appreciation of what it means to find community in decolonizing methods, to support fearless experimentation, and to find emancipation in sharing our stories of struggle, compassion, and precarity. I am honored to serve as student representative to the SAEA Steering Council and look forward to the upcoming work.

Member Representative

Rasheed Rasheed Hislop || GreenThumb
Rasheed Hislop is a community gardener and educator who serves as a school gardens outreach coordinator at GreenThumb within the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.  Rasheed previously served as deputy director at GreenThumb, and a community gardens outreach coordinator.  During his time at GreenThumb, Rasheed has worked with hundreds of school and community gardens providing administrative, technical support and coordinating events from conferences and harvest celebrations to groundbreakings and garden re-developments. At UC Davis, Rasheed worked with a Professor in the Department of Human Ecology, Ryan Galt, on what would become his thesis research surveying food justice organizations in the United States in which he honed his research skills and got to work with undergraduate students as a teaching assistant on food systems. Rasheed has a strong interest in the social, economic and agricultural justice in urban and near urban communities and the power of people, land and food to transcend and overcome systems of oppression. Rasheed has learned a great deal from the work of the SAEA as an attendee at the 2nd Annual Conference in Ithaca in 2007. Land-based learning has had a transformative impact on Rasheed’s life and it is one of his missions in life to share and promote these types of experiences with and for other young people, particularly young people of color in urban environments. SAEA is an organization that has a proven track record of developing and promoting innovative approaches to education in agriculture that he would like to support by joining as a Member Representative.  

Member Representative

mark Mark Walden || Berea College and Grow Appalachia
Mark Walden has been with Berea College and Grow Appalachia since 2012.  Acting as Technical Director for Grow Appalachia, Mark is responsible for providing technical guidance on Organic production practices, disease & pest management, and organic nutrient applications. In his work, Mark has developed curriculums related to high tunnel construction, high tunnel production practices, organic production techniques, cover crop management systems, and farm infrastructure considerations. These curriculums are tailored for the central and Southern Appalachian Region. Mark is a market farmer and has used his knowledge of specialty vegetable production to develop production plans for protected agriculture growing practices. The position of Technical Director requires Mark to expand the technical classroom to partner organizations and individual producers throughout central Appalachia. To assist in meeting the needs of mid-scale producers, Mark and Grow Appalachia have designed and manufacture seasonal high tunnel kits that meet or exceed the current specifications set forth by Natural Resource Conservation Service. Mark is currently delivering soil health innovations to Appalachia Kentucky through a 3-year conservation innovation grant. The NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant has allowed Mark and Grow Appalachia to educate producers in Kentucky on best management practice’s relating to: the implementation of cover crop systems, the beneficial impact from appropriate crop rotations, and labor efficiencies through deep mulching systems. In 2014, Mark served over 5,600 individual gardeners within the Grow Appalachia program, helping to enable Appalachian families to grow as much of their own food as possible.

Member Representative

Blesh_photos 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.


At Large

damian_parr  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.  

Outreach Coordinator

Agricultural Economics Extension Associate Sarah Lovett Sarah Lovett Hanks || Michigan State University
I am an ourtreach assistant coordinator, working with the Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecology Project and work as the program assistant for Michigan  SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research Education). From 2009-2015 I was employed by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Working in the Agricultural Economic Department, I served as project coordinator for NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher program, KyFarmStart, and the Kentucky SARE program.  In 2009 I graduate from the the University of Kentucky with a Bachelors Degree in Sustainable Agriculture. I was one of the first four graduates of this new degree. The SAEA conference was hosted at UK in the summer of 2011. I was lucky enough to serve as the conference coordinator working with Dr. Jacobson and Dr. Nielwony through out the planning process. I have enjoyed this organization and the amazing network of professionals since then. I’m very glad to be part of the SAEA team again and serve as the outreach coordinator.
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