Past Endowed Chairs

If you want to contact a past Endowed Chair and need help finding the person, please contact the MISA office: misamail@umn.edu; or 800-909-6472.

Ms. Jean Mueller, a farmer from Southeast Minnesota, worked to identify markets for local wool producers to re-build the once robust supply chain. She conducted research into consumer demand for locally produced wool, which would be shared with sheep producers across the region. She attempted to pilot a supply chain project by implementation of a wool product to test the value chain from producers to consumers.

Tenure: 2017-2019

Ms. Teresa Opheim built on her work in Iowa (as Director of Practical Farmers of Iowa) to scale up the visibility of farmland transfer to Minnesota, with a focus on the positive actions farmland owners can take. She wrote a series of articles published in numerous sites, and conducted webinars and workshops on farmland transfer issues.

More about the Farm Transitions work: www.sfa-mn.org/farm-transitions

Tenure: 2017-2018

Dr. Randel Hanson, a faculty member at University of Minnesota Duluth, is the Co-director of the Program in Environment and Sustainability and the Director of the UMD Land Lab and Sustainable Agriculture Farm. The Land Lab and Farm are located on about 30 acres of land that was part of the former Northeast Agricultural Experiment Station (1912-1976.) He worked with regional and state supporters of sustainable agriculture and regional food systems to create a long term plan for the institutionalization of the UMD Land Lab and Sustainable Agriculture Farm.

Tenure: 2017-2018

Jack Hedin, Featherstone Farm

Jack Hedin's work involves identifying mechanisms that would work to make farm land accessible in Minnesota, taking into account the needs of both farmers and landowners. He intends to interact with the numerous groups in the region working on this issue including the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust (TCALT,) Renewing the Countryside, Farmers Legal Action Group, and the Hmong American Farmers Association.
Tenure: 2015-16

Lisa Kivirist, Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm; JDI Enterprises, Inc.

Lisa Kivirist will focus on better understanding and championing the role and impact of women farmers as leaders in all facets of agriculture by identifying and addressing barriers and opportunities in rural Minnesota communities. A particular focus will be on capturing women farmer leadership success stories, building local networks, identifying obstacles and developing solutions.
Tenure: 2015-16

Ron Kroese, Garden Avenue Associates

Through a series of video-recorded interviews, this oral history project is documenting the formation and evolution of what today is known as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), including the federal policy reforms NSAC and its allies have achieved over the last three decades.

Topics covered include:

  • The political and social context surrounding the formation in the early 1980s of what became NSAC

  • The evolution of NSAC from its early days as an informal network of grassroots organizations -- most of which were located in the Midwest, with Minnesota groups playing prominent roles -- to the more formal structure of regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs) in the 1990s, to the NSAC of today with its 120 organizations from around the country

  • A review of the policy gains that support organic and sustainable agriculture achieved through the past six Farm Bills

  • A discussion of where the efforts of sustainable agriculture advocates came up short, as well as an exploration of further policy changes needed to advance sustainable agriculture and a healthier food system

Tenure: 2015-16

Lee DeHaan, The Land Institute

Lee worked on building Kernza™ (intermediate wheatgrass) production and markets in Minnesota. Kernza is a perennial grass, part of a family of plants called “wheatgrass” because of the similarity of their seed heads to those of annual wheat varieties. DeHaan’s objective for the position will be to build and strengthen collaborations among researchers, farmers, food processors, and local food networks in order to establish commercial production of Kernza, based on market pull from local food networks. Information learned will be put to use in his ongoing plant breeding efforts and will be used to expand local markets for Kernza. Support for this effort is also being matched by The Land Institute, the Forever Green Initiative and Green Lands, Blue Waters collaborators.

Tenure: 2015

Mark Ritchie

Mark Ritchie worked to link the resources of CFANS and the sustainable agriculture community in Minnesota to the global forum, the 2015 Milan Expo. The theme of the Expo was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The U.S. State Department created a powerful U.S. presence at the 2015 Expo by partnering with local, state and national leaders in sustainable food systems in the design and operation of the U.S. national pavilion. They contracted with the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center to build and manage the U.S. exhibit in Milan. Ritchie, the former Minnesota Secretary of State, provided coordination among Minnesota-based efforts and resources of the U of MN.

Tenure: March – December 2015

Renee Pardello is Assistant Dean, University of Minnesota Extension. In her time in the Chair, she will work to develop research,education and rural advisory and extension linkages between the University of Minnesota and Morocco faculty and graduate students at the Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine, Hassa II (IAV), the national School of Agriculture (ENA) and the Rural Tourism Network in Morocco. Working with Pardello will be Dr. Hakima Bahri, Professor at ENA and UMN Alumni; and Ms. Zebakh Sanaa, Deputy Director of International Cooperation and Development at the IAV and responsible of the development of partnership with several countries and institutions.

Tenure: February 2013 – May 2014

Megan O’Hara worked to identify and document market sector issues associated with regulations. She developed a report including case studies that identify regulatory challenges for farms and farmers markets, restaurants and delis, and small food processors and manufacturers. Megan has been a leader of Homegrown Minneapolis, was a founding member of the Mill City Farmers’ Market, and was a partner in developing “Roots for the Home Team” a youth garden collaborative salad cart at Target Field.

Tenure: February 2013 – December 2014

Angie Tagtow took the lead organizing role to develop Standards of Professional Performance for Registered Dieticians in Sustainable, Resilient & Healthy Food and Water Systems, adopted by the American Dietetic Association in March 2014. Additionally, she worked with University of Minnesota Extension’s local food systems educators to support a coordinated public health approach to community food system networks. Tagtow is the founder and managing editor of the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition and has worked extensively with regional food and farming coalitions, not-for-profit organizations, professional organizations, government agencies and universities to provide community assessments and engagement. In mid-July 2014, Angie was named Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) at USDA.

Tenure: March 2013-April 2014

Rob Myers is the Regional Coordinator and Director for the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Professional Development Program, and is an adjunct faculty member of the Plant Sciences Division at the University of Missouri in Columbia. In his time in the Chair, Dr. Myers worked with members of the Green Lands, Blue Waters initiative to explore options to increase continuous living cover options on farms including cover crops and other conservation plantings.

Tenure: April 2013-March 2014

David Abazs is a teacher at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center and Scattergood Friends School, a historical interpreter at Split Rock Lighthouse and the owner of Round River Farm CSA. A lifelong teacher and local food systems expert, he used his appointment as endowed chair to expand on the foodshed modeling research that he had been working on as part of a Healthy Food, Healthy Lives grant. David shared his research with the Regional Partnerships and helped make it applicable to their community needs as well as helping to connect statewide foodshed projects.

Tenure: November 2011-June 2012

Lee DeHaan, a plant geneticist at The Land Institute in Salina, Kan., who is a U of M alumnus. During his appointment, he continued his research on perennial grains, partnering with university faculty, students, farmers and professionals in order to advance the perennial grain he studies--intermediate wheatgrass­toward commercial production. Experimental plots of this grain were planted at St. Paul and Roseau university research plots as well as on-farm sites.

Tenure: July 2010-November 2011

Will Allen and Seitu Jones worked together in the Endowed Chair to execute a series of monthly seminars that focused on “…the historical involvement and contributions of people of color to agricultural philosophy and practice, as well as contemporary examples of the emerging character and nature of many voices in the sustainable agriculture movement.”

Will Allen was the CEO of Growing Power Inc. of Milwaukee, a non-profit training center for methods in urban agriculture and building community food security systems. Will grew up on a farm and still operates a farm of his own outside of Milwaukee. A McArthur Fellow, Will focuses on innovating methods of increasing food yields even in very small areas.

Tenure: April 2011 – May 2012

Seitu Jones received both his BS in Landscape design and his MLS in Environmental History from the University of Minnesota. A founder of Environmental Advocates of Minnesota and AfroEco, he currently lives in Frogtown where he focuses his efforts on bringing healthy foods into the neighborhood by creating community gardens and leading an effort to bring 1000 trees to Frogtown.

Tenure: April 2011 – May 2012

Bernhard Freyer, a professor of organic agriculture at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna. Dr. Freyer used his knowledge of the European/Austrian organic experience to work with the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences on a series of academic and public discussions aimed at building understanding of the organic agriculture movement.

Tenure: September 2010-June 2011

Jan Joannides is the co-founder and executive director of Renewing the Countryside, a national non-profit that works to strengthen rural communities by building awareness and support for sustainable endeavors. She used her appointment to address barriers and opportunities in developing value-added products in our local food system, particularly focused on meat processing in Minnesota.

Tenure: 2010-2011

Kris Johnson received both his MS and PhD in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota. He has been doing research on land conservation since 1998 during which time he also worked for the University of Minnesota as both a Graduate Instructor and Coordinator of the Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Initiative. During his time as Endowed Chair, Kris partnered with the Land Stewardship Project to investigate the impact of grain-based and grass-fed beef production on water quality, carbon sequestration and provision of habitat for biodiversity in the Chippewa River basin.

Tenure: 2010-2011

Kate Clancy. Food systems consultant; senior fellow, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; and visiting scholar, Center for a Livable Future, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. KLClancy@Comcast.net
Topic: issues across the food system including land use, Agriculture of the Middle, interactions between agriculture and public health, regional food systems, food systems planning.

Tenure: September 2006-March 2007

Gigi DiGiacomo. Consultant specializing in farm business management, marketing and planning. rgdigiacomo@earthlink.net
Topic: Development of organic marketing tools, and collection of organic farmer and retailer data to learn more about organic marketing practices and resource needs in Minnesota.

Tenure: 2006-2007

Larry Lev. Professor and Extension Marketing Specialist at Oregon State University. larry.lev@oregonstate.edu
Topic: Activities related to marketing alternatives; training for educators on farmers' market and food system analysis, training for farmers' market managers, and farmer-buyer connections.

Tenure: 2006-2007

Gary Holthaus. director of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS). ghnpsas@drtel.net
Topic: Discussion groups around the topic of new agrarianism.

Tenure: 2006-2007

Steve Morse and Debra Elias Morse
Topic: Green Lands/Blue Waters Initiative to develop cropping systems for improved watershed health in the Mississippi River Basin

Tenure: May 2003-June2004

James A. Riddle. Organic agriculture consultant, jriddle@hbci.com
Topic: Issues and challenges faced by organic livestock producers

Tenure: May 2003-April 2004

Beth Waterhouse. Writer and University of Minnesota instructor, beth@bethwaterhouse.com
Topic: Creativity of adult children of sustainable farmers

Tenure: May 2003-August 2003

Douglas Tiffany. University of Minnesota, tiffa002@umn.edu
Topic: Agricultural Energy Issues

Tenure: August 2001-August 2002

Luanne Lohr. University of Georgia, llohr@agecon.uga.edu
Topic: Prospects for Regionalization of Organic Food Systems in Minnesota

Tenure: August 2001-May 2002

Cornelia Flora. Iowa State University, cflora@iastate.edu
Jan Flora. Iowa State University, floraj@iastate.edu
Topic: Intersection between Agriculture and Community Sustainability

Tenure: July 1999-June 2000

Karen Lehman. Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Karen_Lehman@comcast.net
Julie Ristau. Utne Reader Magazine, JRistau@earthlink.net
Topic: Regeneration Partnership A Sustainable Food System in Southeast Minnesota: Linking the Land Grant University and Communities through the Southeast Regional Partnership to Maximize Opportunities and Address Challenges in an Age of Globalization

Tenure: July 1999-May 2000

James Van Der Pol. Farmer, Kerkhoven, MN, vanderpol@prairiefare.com
Topic: Alternative Swine Systems

Tenure: January 1999-January 2000

Patricia Henderson. Agribusiness marketing consultant, patsway@aol.com
Carmen Fernholz. Farmer, Madison, MN, fernholz@frontiernet.net
Robert von Bernuth. Michigan State University, vonbern@msu.edu
Topic: Current Socioeconomic Issues Related to Livestock Expansion and the Structure of Agriculture

Tenure: May 1997-May 1998


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