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.


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. 


Photo of Selena AhmedSelena Ahmed || Assistant Professor- Montana State University
Selena is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems at Montana State University where she co-leads the Food and Health Lab. Her research, teaching, and outreach interests are at the intersection of the ecological, cultural, and health aspects of food systems. For the past 14 years, she has carried out transdisciplinary food systems research in diverse ecological and cultural contexts in China, India, Morocco, Venezuela, Belize, the Dominican Republic, and the United States with a focus on tribal and indigenous communities. She examines the socio-ecological, phytonutrient, and sensory basis of food systems from production through consumption and waste in the context of global change. Her ultimate translational goal is to develop evidence-based plans to promote biodiversity in agriculture and mitigate risk of food insecurity and diet-related chronic disease towards promoting sustainability in food systems. Selena hopes to bring her transdisciplinary and inclusive approach to education, research, and outreach to the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association. Her teaching philosophy is founded on inquiry-based experiential education where the student is at the center of the learning process. Selena believes in the importance of a diverse education community where multiple perspectives can be holistically integrated with principles of sustainable agriculture and socio-ecological systems. She has been active in collaborating in identifying key characteristics to design and evaluate core curriculum in sustainable food systems (Valley et al. 2017; Jordan et al. 2014) as well as to design experiential education models including Farm-based Authentic Research Modules in Sustainability Sciences (Ahmed et al. 2017).

Past Chair

megan_fehrmanMegan 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.

Member Representative

Lorien Lorien E. MacAuley || 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.

Member 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.

Student Representative

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.

Member Representative

Blesh_photosJennifer 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_parrDamian 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 LovettSarah Lovett Hanks || Michigan State University
I am an outreach 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. saea.information {at}