Russell Redding was unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate to serve as Pennsylvania's 27th Secretary of Agriculture on May 10, 2023. Governor Josh Shapiro nominated Redding to continue serving as secretary, after he served from 2015 – 2022 under Governor Tom Wolf. He is the former dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Delaware Valley University.
Redding has extensive experience as a public servant, having spent more than 30 years serving Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and Washington D.C. He worked on Capitol Hill as Ag Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and served for nearly 25 years in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, serving as secretary from 2009-2011 under Governor Ed Rendell, and from 2015-2022 under Governor Tom Wolf. He currently serves on the Agriculture subcommittee of the USDA’s Equity Commission.
He earned his B.S. in Agriculture Education and M.S. in Agriculture and Extension Education from Penn State University. In addition, he is a graduate of the Agribusiness Executive program. A native of Pennsylvania, Redding has an innate understanding of food and agriculture, stemming from his youth on his family’s dairy farm and his time as a dairy farm operator. He and his wife Nina have two adult sons and own and operate a farm in Gettysburg.
Zach Ducheneaux was appointed Administrator for USDA’s Farm Service Agency on February 22, 2021. In this role Ducheneaux will provide leadership and direction on agricultural policy, administering loan programs, and managing conservation, commodity, disaster, and farm marketing programs through a national network of offices.
Ducheneaux previously served as the Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council and had been with the IAC since the 1990s. He has also previously served as tribal council representative for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He has spent his career educating people about the critical role of improved food systems, value-added agriculture, and foreign exports to respond to the enduring economic and social challenges facing Native Americans and reservations.
Ducheneaux serves on the board of directors for Project H3LP!, a nonprofit founded by his family to benefit their local community by providing life lessons through horsemanship. His family still operates the 4th generation ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
Joshua and Tara Dukart of Seek First Ranch have been practicing Regenerative and Holistic Management since 2008. They have 15 years of experience speaking, teaching, coaching, and offering facilitation throughout the United States and Internationally. Their ranch, located near Hazen, North Dakota, focuses on using the principles of Regenerative and Holistic Management to enhance soil, plant, and animal health, as well their own quality of life, finances, and community. Together they strive to help others find ways to enrich the lives they were created to live. Joshua is a Certified Educator of Holistic Management. He holds a degree in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from North Dakota State University. His career has spanned from engineer and conservationist to educator, rancher, and business-owner. The Soil & Water Conservation Society selected Joshua as their Harold & Kay Scholl Excellence in Conservation Award recipient in 2017. Cattle Business Weekly presented Joshua with a Top 10 National Industry Leaders Award in 2015 and Joshua was recognized as one of North Dakota’s Top 40 Professionals Under Age 40 in 2012. Joshua also had the pleasure of working on the Burleigh County Soil Conservation District Team (2005-2016) and serving as the Executive Director for the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition (2009-2017). Tara holds degrees in Language Arts and Elementary Education. Her teaching career began in the Taranaki region of New Zealand. In the US, Tara spent eight years teaching writing and English classes at the middle school level as well as remedial reading and math. After experiencing significant health challenges, Tara began to realize the direct link between soil-plant-animal and human health. Tara is passionate about helping others improve their mental, emotional, physical, and immune health plus enhance the effectiveness of their communication through a special series called, “Empowered & Equipped.” Tara also manages the Seek First Ranch website and the direct marketing of its high quality, pastured, grass fed and finished meats. Guided by their faith, Joshua and Tara have conviction—not just to conserve, but to regenerate landscapes, businesses, communities and livelihoods. They firmly believe wealth can be generated in a variety of ways: biologically, financially, and through relationships. Joshua and Tara also enjoy raising and home-educating their three inquisitive children, who are delightfully helpful in asking questions—a very important component of the Seek First Ranch mission.
Sarah is an author, consultant, and speaker who specializes in grass-based livestock farming systems. Sarah takes a practical approach in applying the science of agronomy and grazing, combined with farm business planning, to allow farmers to make well informed decisions. Her goal is to help create more farms with successful grass-based management systems, empowering farmers to create positive change for pastures, soils, livestock, and farmers quality of life. Her unique approach is based on what she learned while consulting, teaching and writing on the topic for the last 29 years. Sarah grew up on a family farm in Vermont after living in New Zealand for several years. On the farm in Vermont, her family used high stock density management intensive grazing to successfully improve the productivity and ecological health of the land and livestock. She later studied Holistic Planned Grazing as well as the science of pasture management in graduate school. Sarah works with beef, sheep, goat and dairy farmers including both organic and non-organic. More recently, Sarah’s focus has been working with 100% grass-fed dairy farmers and she has been participating in several research, consulting and writing projects on that topic. Sarah is author of The Art and Science of Grazing, Organic Dairy Production and co author of The Organic Dairy Handbook, Vermont Grass-Based Beef Profitability: Lessons and Budgets, and Transitioning to Organic Dairy and most recently co-authored The Grass-Based Dairy Production Manual as well as numerous articles. She is passionate about helping farmers find ways to be financially viable while carefully stewarding their land and livestock. She lives on the farm she grew up on in Northern Vermont where she is surrounded by pastures, wetlands, forests, livestock and wildlife. The Graziers Tool Box - The “graziers tool box” includes using the grazing livestock as well as other methods to improve pastures and avoid pasture pitfalls. Topics will include stocking rate, stock densities, trampling, variable regrowth periods, post grazing residual, variable pre grazing heights, soil amendments, seeding and more. Each of these “tools” can be used to change the pasture plant species composition, pasture productivity & quality, soil health, and livestock performance. This session will include a short presentation on the topic with ample time for questions and discussion.
Dwight grew up on Springwood Farm in Kinzers, PA as the oldest of 11 children. He assisted his father during the 90’s in the gradual transition to becoming certified Organic, and later implementing 100% grass-fed grazing practices. After spending a few years off the farm, he, his wife Brenda, and their one year old son moved back to PA and joined his parents in a minority partnership in 2007. Dwight took on the herd and crop management role and in 2022 purchased Springwood Farm, successfully transitioning the farm to its fourth generation of family ownership.
Dwight, Brenda, and their 9 children are kept busy with the 250 cow 100% grass-fed organic dairy and are members of Organic Valley/CROPP’s Grassmilk program. Springwood Farm is an amazing place to raise their family, and Dwight is motivated by pushing towards regenerating the soils under his management via adaptive grazing, silvopasture installations, and adequate rest periods.
Dawn Hnatow was raised on her family’s ranch near Marwayne, Alberta. She spent 10 years at Vee Tee Feeders in Lloydminster where she worked with Bud Williams on a daily basis. She spent another 2 years working closely with Bud and Eunice in Texas where she resides today and manages her own ranching operation. Dawn is Bud’s most senior student and, as such, is in high demand for teaching and consulting.
Born in 1962 and raised in the city of San Francisco, Joe is the fifth generation of his family to steward land and cattle in California. Joe has worked on buckaroo crews in Montana, Nevada and California, as a lay missioner, community organizer and social worker with the Catholic Church in Latin America, and has taught high school in Washington, D.C. In 1991, he and his wife, Julie, moved to San Juan Bautista to take on the family ranching business and re-start T.O. Cattle Company. They have been leaders in the ranching industry and use the Holistic Management® decision making framework to enhance the health of their community and land and produce a living from their work. They have two children, Sarah and Jack. T.O. Cattle Company operates on leased ranches and markets Morris Grassfed Beef™ to four hundred families throughout central California. Its mission is to engage with the creative potential of every moment on ranches, with people, land and animals, to cultivate health and well-being. We are actively engaged with several research organizations in monitoring the health of the rangelands we manage to discern change over time of the ecosystem function. Joe has guided hundreds of people across his ranches in the past thirty years, has spoken numerous times on the topics of Holistic Management®, stockmanship and ranching and is a founding member of the Central Coast Rangeland Coalition and the Rancher to Rancher network. He was awarded the Clarence Burch award for his leadership and stewardship by the Quivira Coalition in 2012.
Dave Hartman grew up on a general crops and livestock farm in central Pennsylvania. He has a bachelor’s degree in animal production and a master's degree in forage agronomy from Penn State University. He began working for Penn State Extension in 1985 and will soon be retiring after a 38-year career in agricultural extension in central Pennsylvania.
In his extension career Mr. Hartman introduced aspects of management intensive grazing to livestock owners in central Pennsylvania throughout the 1990’s. This was followed in the early 2000’s by extension education offered to beef cattle owners interested in grass-finishing. His grass-finished beef programs attracted participants from all parts of Pennsylvania and several surrounding states. One highlight of this work was participating in a cooperative grant project between Penn State and a researcher in the Pampas region of Argentina. This project involved a week-long trip to Argentina to learn more about professional-level grass-finishing from researchers and farm managers. This project convinced Mr. Hartman that, with a focus on management, Pennsylvania beef cattle owners could achieve reasonable average daily gains and produce a high-quality beef product using many of the same forage crops and grass-finishing management techniques he observed in Argentina.
Mr. Hartman is owner/operator of Watson Hartman LLC, a small, grass-based livestock operation. The enterprises include wholesale grass-finished beef for a regional branded program and a small flock of Katahdin sheep for wholesale grass-finished lamb. The farm started in 2001 and involved converting a tract of land to active grazing after it was in CRP for 10 years. Having the privilege of owning, setting up, regenerating, and operating a grazing farm has been tremendously beneficial to his work as an extension educator.
Austin Unruh is the founder and CEO of Trees For Graziers, a company helping farmers in Pennsylvania and beyond take their grazing to new heights using silvopasture. It’s his goal to make silvopasture as easy and cost effective as possible for farmers, which is why TFG offers everything from planning and funding acquisition to planting and aftercare, while also growing silvo-specific nursery stock. When not thinking about silvopasture, Austin’s favorite activity is picking berries with his young family.
Didi Pershouse is the founder of the Land and Leadership Initiative, and the author of two books: The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities, and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She grew up in a family of high-tech medical pioneers working in radiation and brain surgery. Seeing the often destructive effects of their work first-hand led Pershouse to pioneering work of her own: she developed a practice and theoretical framework for systems-based ecological medicine—restoring health to people as well as the social and ecological systems around them.
At the Center for Sustainable Medicine, her sliding-scale practice included community acupuncture, nutrient-dense diets, and resiliency counseling. When the Ecology of Care was published in 2016, her practice became a model for others, as she connected the dots between soil health and public health, and the role of beneficial microorganisms in maintaining a healthy climate both inside and outside the body.
Her work turned increasingly towards engaging patients and the public in conversations about the relationships between soil health, shifting weather patterns, capitalism, and human health.
After 22 years of clinical work with patients, Pershouse now travels widely, leading participatory workshops. Her teaching and facilitation engages farmers and ranchers, schools, policy makers, investors, and environmentalists in building multi-stakeholder working groups to reduce flooding and drought, improve local economies, and improve soil health, public health, and climate resiliency through changes in land management, especially focused on the soil sponge: the living matrix that makes life on land possible.
In 2018, she founded the Land and Leadership Initiative, and the "Can we Rehydrate California?" Initiative. She is a Planning Commissioner for her town, a member of the Vermont State-appointed Payment For Ecosystem Services and Soil Health Working Group and is on the board of directors of the Soil Carbon Coalition and the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition. She led a successful effort to conserve the Zebedee Headwaters Wetlands while serving as a Vermont Conservation Commissioner.
She is currently working on projects with the UN-FAO Farmer Field School program; the Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming Initiative (APCNF) in India (involving over 800,000 farmers); and the No Regrets Initiative.
She also leads retreats that develop and support resilient and regenerative leadership. She bases her work on three fundamental principles borrowed from the Benedictines: on one end is stability/commitment, in the center is deep listening, and on the other end is flexibility in thought and action.
Tim Joseph is the Founder of Maple Hill Creamery, the preeminent organic grass-fed dairy brand in the US. In 2004, Tim and his wife Laura started milking 64 cows on their 250-acre dairy farm in Central New York, with no prior farming experience. By 2007 they had transitioned their herd to both certified organic and 100% grass-fed, and in 2009 Tim created the company’s “creamline” yogurt on his kitchen stovetop. Maple Hill has grown to source milk from 160 family farms in Upstate NY. Maple Hill’s products are distributed nationally. Tim acts as Program Advisor to our Farmers & Ranchers Marketing Innovation Network and our Grassfed Alliance programs.
Brett Chedzoy is a forester and grazing educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension who has lead educational efforts around silvopasturing in the Northeast for the past fifteen years. Brett and his family operate large grazing operations in Upstate New York and Central Argentina that extensively use silvopasturing to support their grassfed herds.
Phyllis and Paul Van Amburgh began their farming career in 1998 with small-scale meat production, and began their first of three farms in 2002. Today, they milk 200 100% grass-fed dairy cows with their five kids, aged 13-23, in central NY State. They were the first to join the founders of Maple Hill Creamery in 2010, and more than 75 others followed under their direct guidance. Today, they still provide production support for Maple Hill Creamery’s 140+ farms. Along the way, they have worked with many of the best minds in agriculture and with farmers across the world. Their work with their growing dairy brand, with farmers, with the community of thought and practice leaders in regenerative agriculture, has provided them with tremendous insight into all aspects of agricultural production.
Tod Auman is Co-owner with his wife Chrissy of Dundore & Heister, a whole-animal butcher shop located in Wyomissing, PA. Dundore & Heister, Pennsylvania’s Craft Butcher, produces craft, small-batch products that capture the rich, robust flavors of our region and the down-to-earth cooking style of our Pennsylvania home. https://dundoreandheister.com/
Nathan Weaver, with his wife Kristine and their children nurture a 190 acre 100% grassfed organic dairy farm near Cazenovia, New York. The Weaver’s have 9 children, 4 of which operate their own 100% grassfed dairies as well. The herd has been on an all forage diet for more than 10 years now. The milk gets sold to Organic Valley Crop Cooperative. Their operation is a full perennial system with no tillage or annuals grown.
The Weavers’ have a passion for starting new farms and developing them into profitable and beautiful for the oncoming generations.
Dan has been an organic farmer for more than 30 years. He grew up on Many Hands Organic Farm in central Massachusetts with his parents, Julie Rawson, NOFA-MA Executive Director, and Jack Kittredge, publisher of Natural Farmer. After working globally in the late 90s and early 2000s with farmers, NGOs, and researchers across India, Russia, and Central America, Dan returned to the U.S. and in 2010 launched the BFA in order to ignite a movement around food quality.
Dan has become one of the leading proponents of “nutrient density,” and works to demonstrate the connections between soil health, plant health, and human health through workshops and speaking engagements around the world, the annual Soil and Nutrition Conference, and an increased presence online through social media, a YouTube channel, and numerous webinars and podcasts.
Dan launched the Real Food Campaign, now the Bionutrient Institute, that, with open-source science partners Our-Sci and FarmOS, are leading the effort to identify and increase nutrition in the food supply. The Bionutrient Institute has engineered and released a hand-held consumer spectrometer, the Bionutrient Meter, designed to test nutrient density at the point of purchase and bring transparency to the marketplace. Via the Bionutrient Meter, the goal is to empower consumers to choose their foods based on nutrient quality and thereby leverage economic incentives to drive full system regeneration.
Honig started Happy Valley Meat to address the communication breakdown between farmers, buyers, and restaurants. His company, which is a certified B Corp, aggregates meat from over 20 farms, giving them access to markets that value high welfare meats. HVM works with customers such as Momofuku, Rooster St Butcher, Lafayette College and Lehigh University. Before HVM, Honig studied philosophy at NYU where he earned a master's in bioethics. When not working on Happy Valley, he's helping raise cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens in the Hudson Valley at Kinderhook Farm.
Terry Brett is the founder, co-owner and CEO of Kimberton Whole Foods, a privately-owned chain of natural food groceries located in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Before establishing Kimberton Whole Foods, Terry and his wife, Pat, worked at the Seven Stars Biodynamic Dairy Farm in rural Chester County, PA – Pat as the manager of the small farm store, and Terry as the farm’s original yogurt maker, where he not only ran the yogurt processing machinery, but also set the pricing and managed the sales of the yogurt into distribution. The purpose in both running the small store and selling the dairy’s biodynamic yogurt was to support the farm. After running the small farm store for several years, (1986-1994), Terry and Pat moved into the village of Kimberton and founded the original Kimberton Whole Foods (KWF) store. The purpose of this store was to provide room for more natural and organic goods for their customers, all the while maintaining a commitment to local products and sustainability in agriculture. Today, after years of growth -- Kimberton Whole Foods currently numbers 7 stores, a commissary kitchen and a distribution center —Terry and his KWF team continue to be supportive of local, organic farms and natural product vendors. (Kimberton Whole Foods is proud to carry produce and products from over 200 local vendors, located within 100 miles of their distribution center). Terry has been a proud member of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA) since the organization’s inception and has served on the INFRA board of directors for 5 terms. Terry is also very active in the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, (PASA). A true friend of the farmer, he is regularly honored for his ethical business leadership and his meaningful contribution to regional sustainable agriculture.