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The 18th Annual Michigan Family Farms Conference
"Growing Back Stronger"

Bios & Information
Dean Baas
Dean Baas
SARE Grant Writing – Tips and Tricks for Success

Dean Baas is an Extension Educator in Sustainable Agriculture for Michigan State University Extension. Dean is involved in cover crop, soil health and organic agriculture research and education. He is a member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council Executive Committee and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Coordinator for the state of Michigan. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Geosciences and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from MSU. Prior to returning to MSU for graduate study, he had a 20-year career with the Kellogg Company.

Barb Barton
Barb Barton
Manoomin: The Indigenous Spiritual and Cultural Life Source

Barb Barton is the author of the books The Amazing Adventures of A Midwestern Girl and Manoomin: The Story of Wild Rice in Michigan. Manoomin traces the interwoven stories of the Anishinaabek tribe, European colonizers, and the role native wild rice has had in shaping their shared histories. The first book of its kind, Manoomin won a 2018 Michigan History Award in the University Press/Commercial Press category as well as a 2019 Michigan Notable Book Award. Barton also travels the state as a public speaker -and sometimes folk musician- continuing the oral traditions that have informed her research and writing. The author is currently on a book tour for Manoomin and is available for booking in the Midwest region.

Benjamin Belkholm
Benjamin Belkholm
Put USDA to Work for Your Farm: Income Safety Nets with USDA RMA

Ben Belkholm is a Program Specialist with the USDA Farm Service Agency. His primary programs include Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), Disaster Designations, and other ad hoc disaster assistance programs. Ben has had a passion for agriculture and working with farmers since childhood when he began growing conventional and organic cash crops in Minnesota on his family farm.

Katie Brandt
Katie Brandt
A Map to your Farm's Success! Finding loans, land, opportunities & experts

Katie Brandt developed the Map of Michigan Beginning Farmer Resources with support from NC-SARE. She teaches the MSU Organic Farmer Training Program, a mix of hands-on learning, field trips to 20+ farms and interactive learning to write a Farm Business Plan that meets every Monday from March to November. Katie also leads the Michigan Sustainable Farm Mentors Program where aspiring and beginning farmers are paid to connect with an experienced farm mentor and a peer. Her two decades of farming experience inform her every day when she is working alongside aspiring and beginning farmers to translate their skills and vision into attainable goals for viable farms and agricultural endeavors. After working on 5 sustainable farms, Katie co-founded Groundswell Community Farm and the farm expanded over 12 years to grow over $200,000 of vegetables annually. During that time, she attended Grand Valley State University, where she designed an on-farm research project about organic controls for Striped Cucumber Beetles to earn an MS in Biology.

Katy Bresette
Katy Bresette
Land Back/Land Access: Rights to Stewardship

Maangwan odoodeman, miskwaabekong odoonjibaa, Ziigwanikwe izhinikaazo. Ziigwanikwe (Katy Bresette) is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe from the loon clan in Northern Wisconsin. Ziigwanikwe has lived and worked in various communities as an Ojibwe educator. She now resides in Northern Michigan with her partner and their children, exploring Ojibwe food and life ways. She and her partner run Dynamite Hill Farms in their efforts to reclaim an Ojibwe centered way of life. Dynamite Hill Farms provides local, traditional, Ojibwe foods to communities near and far. We are working to bring healthy and sustainable foods while fostering an Ojibwe way of life. We hope to help revive local Ojibwe economies and understanding through the distribution of traditional Ojibwe food and the stories and teachings that come with this food. Dynamite Hill Farms looks forward to helping people from all walks of life relearn what it means to live within and from a place again.

Shea Phire Cobb
Shea Phire Cobb
Musical Performance

Shea Phire Cobb lives and works in Flint, Michigan, where she was also born and raised. She is an artist, mother, author, musician, and founder of The Sister Tour, a platform that promotes female artistry. She began her artistic career by performing poetry during children’s summer programs and organizing poetry showcases in her community. Her books of poetry include Travels in my Car: Dedicated to the Writers Freedom (2018), Honey Tea and Hibiscus: Reflective Heart Poetry (2018), and Ruby in The Rough: A Dedication to LaToya Ruby Frazier (2020), which she co-authored with Amber Hasan. She studied communications at the University of Michigan–Flint and Mott Community College. In 2014, she began an ongoing collaboration with LaToya Ruby Frazier focused on the Flint Water Crisis. With Frazier and The Sister Tour, Cobb has traveled across the country telling the story of her community and the Flint Water Crisis. She has led programs at, among others, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where she also performed an original play, Surviving Womanhood.

Courtney Collia
Courtney Collia
Manoomin: The Indigenous Spiritual and Cultural Life
Source

Cortney Collia is a student of the natural and healing arts, an environmental educator and Earth advocate. She is currently attending the Institute for Massage Education while working as an office manager. She is a descendant of many peoples the world over including, but not limited to the Sault St. Marie Band of Ojibwe, Italian and Scandinavian peoples. She has been sharing manoomin knowledge and story with her mentor and great friend Roger LaBine for nearly a decade now and enjoys every opportunity to do so.

Jannan Cornstalk
Jannan Cornstalk
Manoomin: The Indigenous Spiritual and Cultural Life
Source

Jannan J. Cornstalk is a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. She is a water warrior and organizer of water related events to bring awareness of the sacredness of Water/Niibi. Jannan has participated in panels, conferences, summits and panels related to water. Her two main mentors are grandmother water walker, Josephine Mandamin-ba and United Tribes chair, Frank Ettawageshick. She has organized the Pipe Out Paddle Protest for the past several years and is a recipient of the Michigan Environmentalist of the Year award 2018 and 2021. Jannan served on the LTBB’s Natural Resource Commission and was the tribal liaison for the Stewardship Network conference in Lansing MI to engage more Native speakers and participation. As director of the Water is Life Festival she helped facilitate and bring speakers and musicians from various areas of Michigan to bring awareness of water issues such as the Detroit Water Shut-offs, Flint, and water equity. Jannan is a grandmother of six grandchildren and mother of three grown children. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois and now resides in Oden, MI.

Jessica Duran
Jessica Duran
Translator (SARE workshops)

Jessica received her Veterinarian degree from the University of Mexico College of Veterinary Medicine. She worked with the Dairy Extension Team in her University. There, she was able to assist farmers in a small community near Mexico City. When she graduated, she moved to the United States, where she was hired by one of the biggest Dairy Companies in Wisconsin, gaining a lot of experience in training, management, hoof trimming, reproduction, animal welfare, and safety. She has worked with organic, conventional, and automated dairy farms.
To increase her knowledge, she participated in the MSU Dairy Extension Team as a producer, and with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan Board Mentor Program. In addition, she graduated from the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program and became the Education Coordinator for Michigan.
She founded MI Country Life, a consulting and translation services company where she works to help farmers improve their farms and provide opportunities to multilingual workers.

Brian Frieden
Brian Frieden
Put USDA to Work for Your Farm: Income Safety Nets
with USDA RMA

Brian Frieden has worked for USDA for 37 years. He is the Director of Risk Management Agency’s (RMA), Regional Office in Springfield, Illinois that serves farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. The regional office conducts underwriting activities and provides program education and support to the region’s crop insurance program that provides $21 billion in crop insurance coverage.

Severiano Felipe Antonino García
Severiano Felipe Antonino García
Storytelling Session

Severiano Antonino García has vast experience in the production of traditional agricultural products using organic practices, which he gained working at his family farm in Mexico. After working for many years as a migrant farmworker, a few years ago he bought a small farm in Van Buren County, Michigan where he is using his experience in the production of organic agricultural products including tomatillo criollo, Kusa squash, garlic, beans (yellow, green, and purple), and hot peppers.

Hadassah GreenSky
Hadassah GreenSky
Musical Performance

Hadassah GreenSky is a Anishinaabe (LTBB Odawa) artist and multi-instrumentalist living in Detroit, Michigan. She is a graphic designer and painter, as well as a bead worker, dancer, seamstress and fashion designer, having learned through her experience dancing in powwows, and hand making regalia and beadwork. She is a community organizer and model, having modeled for a viral photo taken July 1st, 2020 at the base of the old Christopher Columbus statue in Detroit. She is also the premier female Native jazz vocalist in the Detroit area, having attended The New School in NYC for jazz vocal performance and studying under the top jazz educators in Detroit.
Having a focus on her own heritage, she began to organize within the urban Native community, giving her important skills and connections to help bring her community together. Hadassah is a curator, focusing on events for the underserved urban Native community. She is the co-founder of Vibes With The Tribes and the Waawiyaatanong NDN Market.

Sarah Hackney
Sarah Hackney
Farm Bill 101: All Aboard!

Sarah oversees NSAC’s overall organizational strategic direction, administration, management, and capacity-building. Previously, she served as NSAC’s Grassroots Director for nearly 8 years, working with NSAC’s member organizations and allies to empower and mobilize grassroots food and farm voices nationwide. Raised in rural Florida, her prior work has included community-led efforts to improve small farm viability, increase fresh food access, and build leadership in rural communities in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College.

Savannah Halleaux
Savannah Halleaux
Put USDA to Work for Your Farm: Cost Share & Rental
Payments

Savannah Halleaux is the Outreach Coordinator for the USDA Farm Service Agency in Michigan, where she’s worked for over six years to inform farmers, ranchers and agricultural land owners about safety net, conservation and lending programs available to them through the USDA. Savannah is also a military veteran with two combat tours. She lives with her husband and two children on a small sheep farm in Shiawassee County.

Amber Hasan
Amber Hasan
Musical Performance

Amber Hasan has been writing for as long as she can remember. She sees writing as sacred, a vehicle for feeling spiritually whole and fulfilling her life purpose. In addition to being a writer, she is a wife, mother, actor, hip-hop artist, herbalist, urban farmer and community organizer.
Amber owns a natural product line, Mama’s Healing Hands, that was originally started to address hair loss and skin rashes suffered by Flint residents due to the Flint Water Crisis.
She is co-founder of The Sister Tour artist collective, a grass roots organization created to offer resources and safe spaces for women artist and entrepreneurs. In July of 2019, along with Latoya Ruby Frazier, The Sister Tour and Moses West, they passed out over 20,000 gallons of water in her hometown of Flint, Michigan using Moses West’s “Atmospheric Water Generator.”
Amber’s work focuses on bringing light to dark places and situations while also helping others to find and use their voices as a tool of empowerment.

Lacey Ingrao
Lacey Ingrao
Storytelling Session

Lacey Ingrao holds a M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology, with a concentration in Eco-Psychology from Naropa University. Lacey’s breadth of knowledge includes nature-based therapies, edible/sensory landscape creation, transitions, rites of passage and somatic practices. As a farmer and beekeeper, Lacey spends her time producing artisan honey and value-added products, along with sustainably growing flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Bee Wise Farms is where Lacey combines her knowledge and experience of farming with eco-psychological practices; encouraging a long lasting connection between food, self/community and nature.

Adam Ingrao
Adam Ingrao
Storytelling Session

Dr. Adam Ingrao holds a BS in Agriculture and Environmental Plant Science from California Polytechnic State University and a PhD in Entomology from Michigan State University. He is the Co-Founder and National Director for the Heroes to Hives program and an Outreach Specialist at Michigan Food and Farming Systems. Dr. Ingrao also co-owns Bee Wise Farms where manages their honey bee operation and provides education and consulting around beekeeping to a global audience. He has published numerous scientific articles on biological pest control, chemical ecology, and insect community analysis and was most recently a co-author of the book Honey Bee Medicine for the Veterinary Practitioner.

Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson
Intercropping Chestnuts and Livestock Forage in Northern Michigan

Abby and Nick Johnson have owned Ox Heights farm for 13 years. Our family includes 5 active kids ages 3-12 and we take a lot of pride in our 170 acre slice of North East Michigan located in Moltke Township, Presque Isle County, MI, five miles south of Lake Huron. Over the past 6 years we have been converting the ~40 tillable acres, that have been farmed with traditional row crop practices, into long term sustainable crops, primarily chestnuts. The remaining acres are dedicated to timber production. In 2020 we added sheep to the farm and are practicing intensive grazing in the orchard plantings. Abby graduated from Michigan State University in 2009 with a degree in Biosystems Engineering and is the primary farm manager. Nick works off the farm as a fisheries biologist and provides immeasurable support to the farm on weekends and evenings.

Keesa V. Johnson
Keesa V. Johnson
Designing Restorative Models: Michigan Black Farmer Land Funds

Keesa is human-centered systems designer, scholar-activist, and design educator who
actively redesigns a just and equitable food future within the state of Michigan. Keesa is the first racial equity chair for the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council and is the coalition leader of the Washtenaw County Black Farmers Fund. Due to the growing need to remove unequal barriers in local and state policy, she is co-leading the Michigan Local Food Policy Network as a Food Policy Design Fellow at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.

Jerry Jondreau
Jerry Jondreau
Land Back/Land Access: Rights to Stewardship

Gidigaa bizhiw (Jerry Jondreau) hails from the Wiikwedong, or the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), where he currently resides with his family. Jerry began working with his Tribe’s natural resources department as a technician and has been involved in the responsibility of developing strong relationships to the beings of this place ever since. His family comes from a long line of sugar makers and as the owner and operator of Dynamite Hill Farms, he and his family continue to exercise their treaty rights and continuously work to strengthen their relationship with and reinforce their responsibilities to our natural world. Dynamite Hill Farms provides local, traditional, Ojibwe foods to communities near and far. We are working to bring healthy and sustainable foods while fostering an Ojibwe way of life. We hope to help revive local Ojibwe economies and understanding through the distribution of traditional Ojibwe food and the stories and teachings that come with this food. Dynamite Hill Farms looks forward to helping people from all walks of life relearn what it means to live within and from a place again.

Alita Kelly
Alita Kelly
Designing Restorative Models: Michigan Black Farmer Land Funds

Alita was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. Her educational background is in Environmental Science and Sustainable Business from the University of Michigan. In 2020 she founded South East Market, a small grocery store that operates through a sustainable and equitable lens. Also amidst the COVID pandemic she founded the MLK Freedom School, a children's enrichment program connecting inner-city BIPOC youth to urban agriculture, mindfulness activities and opportunities to learn about intersectional justice. She sits as Chair of the City of Grand Rapids Urban Agriculture Committee and helped launch the West Michigan Chapter of the National Young Farmer Coalition and the West Michigan BIPOC Farmer Land Fund. While building and managing multiple nutrition programs for children and people with chronic dietary related illness she found a passion for empowering equitable and sustainable food systems. Outside of getting into good trouble, Alita enjoys practicing and empowering food sovereignty, traveling, connecting to mother earth, observing insects and cooking.

Nbiish Kenwabikise
Nbiish Kenwabikise
Land Back/Land Access: Rights to Stewardship

Nbiish Kenwabikise is from a commercial fishing family and has worked in treaty rights for around 5 years with his father. He is restoring two 1940's commercial fishing tugs and operated one for about a year before needing to leave and complete a Welding Process Technologies program at Northwestern Michigan College. Throughout that program he walked with Water Protectors to Lansing and camped out with Mackinaw Ode. He has spoken at various events about water protection and treaty rights at various events. The need to ensure commercial fishing for himself and other treaty fishing families led him to Ferris State University's Heavy Equipment Technology AAS program. Through his efforts in higher education he has also become a lifelong fellow of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He would like to help fix other fishing families vessels as well as fund/teach new fishing people. Finally, there are traditional and well documented fishing styles that Anishinaabe people are not able to perform and Nbiish would like to pursue law one day to change that.

Roger LaBine
Roger LaBine
Manoomin: The Indigenous Spiritual and Cultural Life
Source

Roger LaBine is an enrolled member of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He is currently employed in the Environmental Department as a Water Resource Technician with the responsibility of monitoring the water quality of surface waters in tribal territory and involved in the Manoonmin restoration and monitoring program. Roger is the tribal delegate on the Michigan Wild Rice Initiative and co-chairs the Education and Outreach Subcommittee. Roger co-chairs the Michigan Wild Rice Coalition. He is a consultant/advisor on several Manoomin Research projects, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the University of Minnesota, and a Manoomin Restoration Project on the properties of the University of Michigan.
He is a member of the Midewiwin Lodge and received his Mentoring and Teachings from the lodge, his Grandparents and Uncle. He was introduced to Manoomin harvesting and Manoomin Camp in 1972 when he was invited to accompany them in the annual harvest in Northern Wisconsin. He started assisting his Uncle Niigaanaash (Ne-gone-osh) in 1980 with the restoration of Manoomin on Lake Lac Vieux Desert, their tribal homeland. He supported Niigaanaash in his negotiations with the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company requesting their support in the project and through the litigation to get the waters lowered to promote the return of the Manoomin beds. He has continued the project after Niigaanaash walked in 1999.
Roger was the recipient of the 2019 Michigan Heritage Award given by the State of Michigan and Michigan State University for his work of preservation, education, outreach, and restoration efforts throughout the State of Michigan and the Great Lakes Basin. He conducts Manoomin Camps and Manoomin workshops throughout the year across the Great Lakes Basin, and they are open to both the tribal members and to the general public.

Payge Lindow
Payge Lindow
Designing Restorative Models: Michigan Black Farmer Land Funds

Payge Lindow (she/they) is one of the co-founders of the West Michigan Chapter of Young Farmers, which organized the West MI BIPOC Farmer Land Fund alongside other farmers in the community to better resource BIPOC farmers in the Grand Rapids area. She is also the Michigan Organizer for the National Young Farmers Coalition, working to uplift farmer voices into policy advocacy work for a more equitable 2023 Farm Bill. She has been a farmhand, farm manager and youth garden educator around Michigan for the past 3 years.

Nathan Medina
Nathan Medina
Tapping the Market Potential of 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids & Farms

Nathan Medina is a Policy Specialist on 10 Cents a Meal with Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. Groundwork originally piloted 10 Cents a Meal in Northwest MI and has been a core partner with the Michigan Department of Education since the program’s inception. Groundwork manages communications, outreach and the official 10 Cents a Meal website. Nathan is a MSU alumnus where he graduated in 2007. He worked in the legislature for a decade, covering Ag and Natural Resources policy. Nathan is an avid gardener and lives in Lansing with his wife and family.

Di'Shun Melbert
Di'Shun Melbert
Put USDA to Work for Your Farm: Cost Share & Rental Payments

Di’Shun Melbert is the District Conservationist in Kalamazoo County for USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. He has been with the Agency for 6 years working with West Michigan farmers to get conservation on the ground.

Phil Preston
Phil Preston
Working with an Agent – A Partnership That Insures Success

Phillip is a Senior Crop Insurance Specialist on GreenStone FCS’s Fruit and Specialty Crop team. Phillip has worked for one of the largest crop insurance providers as a in field adjuster, and now serves primarily west Michigan’s fruit and specialty crop growers. Phil currently lives in Nunica, MI with my wife and amazing daughters. I’m also the co-owner for Four Coasts Beekeeping, LLC (Which is an awfully new venture with 50 hives)

Mama Erin Preston-Johnson Bevel, Esq.
Mama Erin Preston-Johnson Bevel, Esq.
Designing Restorative Models: Michigan Black Farmer Land Funds

Mama Erin Preston-Johnson Bevel, Esq. is an organizer, attorney, educator, artist and gardener dedicated to the pursuit of the justice deserving of her beloved Black people! Mama Erin has a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law. Currently she teaches in Howard’s Political Science Department about her decade of experiences as a government attorney. Mama Erin is ancestrally and presently, a student of the land; her own return to it facilitating deep healing, growth and ancestral revelation. She is also a co-founder of both the Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund and Detroit's Urban Forest School.

Martin Reinhardt
Martin Reinhardt
Indigenous Identity and Food Relations

Dr. Martin Reinhardt is an Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians from Michigan. He is a tenured professor of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University. He is the president of the Michigan Indian Education Council, and the lead singer and songwriter for the band Waawiyeyaa (The Circle). His current research focuses on revitalizing relationships between humans and Indigenous plants and animals of the Great Lakes Region. He has taught courses in American Indian education, tribal law and government, and sociology. He has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the Pennsylvania State University, where his doctoral research focused on Indian education and the law with a special focus on treaty educational provisions. Martin serves as a panelist for the National Indian Education Study Technical Review Panel and as the primary investigator for the Decolonizing Diet Project. He has also served as Chair of the American Association for Higher Education American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus, and as an external advisor for the National Indian School Board Association. He also holds both a Bachelor's and a Master’s degree in Sociology.

Rosebud Bear Schneider
Rosebud Bear Schneider
Storytelling & Cooking Experience

Rosebud Bear Schneider - Anishnaabe, Shawnee, P'urhepecha.
Rosebud is a Mama, Daughter, Sister, Cousin, Auntie and friend to many. She was born and raised in Southwest Detroit and now resides in northern Michigan where she's the market manager and farmer for Ziibimijwang Farm and Minogin Market (Little Traverse Bay Band Of Odawak). Her involvement with indigenous food sovereignty work spans over the last 12 years; first as a breastfeeding educator and maternal infant homevisitor with Healthy Start and WIC and then as a farmer and nutrition educator with the Sacred Roots food sovereignty project in Detroit. Her time with Sacred Roots illuminated the passion Rosebud has to feed and care for her community. She also expanded her roots throughout the Detroit Agriculture network as a farmer and former board member at Keep Growing Detroit. As a producer she continues to provide traditional foods across turtle island. Rosebud remains dedicated to supporting the health and wellness of our community by educating on the importance of revitalizing Indigenous foodways. Her lifelong goal is to give her children and the coming generations the knowledge and skills to live a well-rounded healthy life woven with our ancestral ways.

Marcelo E. Siles
Marcelo E. Siles
Small Farm Risk and Management Approaches

Dr. Siles works as a Research Specialist in the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University, he holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University with Majors in Economic Development and Agricultural Finance. His current research focus on Latino Business Start-ups, the role of social capital in the adoption of appropriate technology and risk mitigation by small farmers, and Latino businesses access to credit. Before his current post, he worked as an Executive Director for International Programs at Old Dominion University and Northern Michigan University.

 Nat Spurr
Nat Spurr
Manoomin: The Indigenous Spiritual and Cultural Life
Source

Nat is an enrolled member of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and the Vice Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party’s Anishinaabek Caucus. He has seven years of both harvesting and restoration experience with Manoomin. He has been a member of the NHBP Tribal Environmental Advisory Committee for five years and is also a member of the NHBP Planning & Land Use Committee and the NHBP Election Board. Prior to that, he was an elected member of the NHBP Tribal Council and a member of the Board of Directors of the FireKeepers Casino Hotel. He has also worked on the Education Outreach and Harvest Regulations Subcommittees with the Michigan Wild Rice Initiative (MWRI) since 2018. Nat is also the project manager for the Anishinaabek Caucus team dedicated to having Manoomin designated the Native Grain of the State of Michigan.

Ben Tirrell
Ben Tirrell
Manure Composition and Digital Agriculture

Ben Tirrell is a Crop and Soil Sciences Master’s Degree student in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University. As part of the Basso Lab for Digital Agronomy, his studies focus on the policy implications of farmers adopting digital agriculture. Ben also works on legislative and regulatory issues for the Michigan Farm Bureau. Ben grew up on a centennial farm in Charlotte, MI and continues to raise hay, cattle and sheep with his family.

Shara Trierweiler
Shara Trierweiler
Storytelling Session

I am Shara Trierweiler, the owner of Agape Organic Farm. I run the farm with my children and when not farming I work as a social worker. Farming is therapeutic for me because I love the science behind it and I especially enjoy cultivating mushrooms and raising animals. I grew up on the island of St Lucia and my Grand Uncle Gabriel Charles was an environmentalist and forester. Recognizing my affinity to animals and science, he took me under his wing and I spent much of my early childhood and youth trekking rainforests with environmentalists, biologists and geologists. This gave me a deep seated love for nature and environmental stewardship. However, due to pressure from my mother I went to business school instead. In 2013 I meant a woman livestock farmer at the Ohio State Fair and she changed the trajectory of my life. She introduced me to the organic movement which then propelled me into living out my dream of farming in 2017.

Reaiah True
Reaiah True
Land Back/Land Access: Rights to Stewardship

Reaiah True is a lapidary artist, musician (Mystic Dub) metal smith (Reaiah True Designs), certified reflexologist, event organizer, founder of One Balm and a steward of West Michigan Heirloom Seed Exchange. Raised in San Diego, CA, and influenced by travel around the U.S. and the Caribbean, Ms. True has shown dedication to youth, community and healthy lifestyle.
Along with a team of Grand Rapids artists, Reaiah True built a tiny home and hosted her vision of the sustainability caravan for ArtPrizeX. Reaiah hosted the Water Unity Festival in Flint, MI (2017) and has been involved in social justice since her youth; she has spent some years working with Hopi elders in Arizona in traditional gardening methods.
Reaiah True has been an advisory member with MIFFS team for the 2022 Conference.

Cherlin Valera
Cherlin Valera
USDA Spanish Linguist

Cherlin Varela is a Spanish interpreter with more than 17 years of experience working with federal government clients including the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Agency. Skilled in consecutive and simultaneous interpretation, Cherlin lead the interpreting team for US General Attorney Loretta E. Lynch during meetings with her Mexican counterpart in 2015. She holds a M.A. in Spanish from American University in Washington D.C. and a B.A. in International Relations from George Mason University. Cherlin has interpreted in a wide variety of settings, including conferences, courtrooms, classroom instruction and field training exercises. She also has broad experience in topics such as law enforcement, corrections, immigration, intelligence, culture and politics. Having worked in such high-pressure environments, Cherlin brings a wealth of experience to the International Conservation Chiefs Academy.

Erika Villegas
Erika Villegas
Translator, Storytelling Sessions

Erika was born in Gómez Palacio, Durango, Mexico. Raised in West Los Angeles from the age of 4. She Grew-up undocumented and deeply colonized until the age of 23. This ignited in her a rage against the machine that led to becoming a human rights activist and developed a passion for food justice, environmental protection and self-realization.
Erika’s is a visual artist, spiritual mentor and public speaker. She launched her podcast in 2021 and guides others on how to decolonize and heal. Being of Mexican, Afro indigenous roots, we are extremely honored to be part of this event.

Filiberto Villa-Gomez
Filiberto Villa-Gomez
Small Farm Risk and Management Approaches

Filiberto V. Gomez is originally from Mexico where he worked at Agricultural Experimental Stations with small-scale farmers Extension programs, small business development, and private companies. He specialized in recruiting fruit and vegetables farmers to participate in programs and provided marketing support for about 15 years. Currently, Filiberto is Spanish Speaking Outreach Director for Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS). Filiberto works to connect Spanish Speaking Farmers producers to resources, each other, and technical assistance. Filiberto collaborates with stakeholders to offer technical assistance around the development of collaboratives, marketing, blueberry management, Integrated Pest Management, record keeping, farm business management, food safety, NRCS and FSA programs, pesticides training, and restricted use applicators license exams. He also works to connect producers with different fruit and vegetable buyers (wholesale, brokers, restaurants, and farmers markets) in Detroit, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Cities around the Southwest MI Area. He currently lives in Battle Creek, MI with his wife and two sons.

Jesse Womack
Jesse Womack
Farm Bill 101: All Aboard!

Jesse grew up working as labor on various farms and holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and a Masters in Food and Agricultural Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. After undergrad, Jesse served as an Americorps VISTA developing programing for local food farms and businesses in southern Minnesota. Jesse transitioned from that role to leading a nine-county agricultural resilience study while coordinating programing for the Feast! Local Foods Network. Most recently, Jesse worked with the Nature Conservancy in Ohio to improve water quality and carbon outcomes by promoting conservation practices to farmers.

Ana Zazueta-Daulton
Ana Zazueta-Daulton
USDA Spanish Linguist

Native of Mexico. Received a B.A. in Languages from the University of New Mexico. Spanish<>English translator and Interpreter for 25 years and a Spanish Instructor for 16 years. Avid cyclist.