Administrative Council

NCR-SARE is a USDA-funded grant program whose mission is to strengthen communities, increase farmer/rancher economic viability, and improve the environment by supporting research and education.

NCR-SARE's Administrative Council is responsible for the operation of the NCR-SARE program by appointing a host institution, defining policy, issuing calls for grant proposals, and making decisions about funding proposals.

The NCR-SARE Administrative Council sets program priorities, approves the budget and makes proposal funding decisions for all grant programs. The twenty members fill designated slots for three-year terms, a maximum of two terms.  Position openings are advertised via press releases, and current AC members elect new members from nominations. Council members are expected to attend Council meetings (in-person February and July, throughout the region), review proposals and other materials distributed between meetings, and participate in NCR-SARE committees and occasional between-meeting conference calls.

Recommendations and self-nominations are welcome. To nominate yourself for a seat on the NCR-SARE Administrative Council, check with the NCR-SARE office to see which positions are open, and then submit the following information using our online form.

Marisol Berti
NDSU Department of Plant Sciences
NDSU Dept. 7670
PO Box 6050
Fargo, North Dakota 58108-6050
166 Loftsgard Hall 270A
Phone: 701.231.6110
E-mail: [email protected]
Sector: Ag Experiment Station
Area of expertise: Forage and Biomass Crop Production
Term: Started in 2021; Expires 2024, Marisol is eligible for re-nomination

Kristy Borrelli
University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland 20742-6715
Phone: 301.405.9912
Email: [email protected]
Sector: SARE Associate Director
Area of expertise: Agronomy; Cropping Systems
Term: Indefinite; Kristi started as Associate SARE Director in 2021

Katy Dickson
Christensen Farm
N2755 County Road M
Browntown, Wisconsin 53522
Phone: 608.966.3464 
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Farmer/Rancher At-Large (Wisconsin)
Area of Expertise: Diversified Production; Organic Production; Direct Marketing
Term: Started in 2023; Expires 2026; Katy is eligible for re-nomination

Miranda Duschack
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
4736 Tennessee Ave
Saint Louis, Missouri, 63111
Phone: 314‐604‐3403
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Representative of a Minority-Serving College or University - 1890 Institution
Area of expertise: Small farms, Urban farms, Community engagement
Term: Started 2021; Expires 2024; Miranda is eligible for re-nomination

Jennifer Filipiak
Driftless Area Land Conservancy
206 S. Iowa St., PO Box 323,
Dodgeville, Wisconsin 53533
Phone: 608.930.3252
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Nonprofit
Area of expertise: Conservation; Soil health
Term: Started 2018; Re-elected; Expires 2024; AC Chair

Nate Goodrich
Missouri NRCS State Office
601 Business Loop 70W, Suite 250
Columbia, MO  65203
Phone:  573-876-9403
Email: [email protected]
Sector: NRCS
Area of expertise: Conservation; Natural Resources
Term: Started in 2024; Expires 2027; Nate is eligible for re-nomination

Mary Hendrickson
University of Missouri
College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources
135 Mumford Hall
Columbia, Missouri 65211
Phone: 573.882.7463
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Sociology
Area of Expertise: Community Food Systems; Sociology
Term: Started 2020; Reelected; Expires in 2026

Doug Jones
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, Kansas 66219
Phone: 913.551.7592
Email: [email protected]
Sector: EPA
Area of expertise: Environmental Protection and Policy
Term: Started 2020; Reelected; Expires in 2026

Kara Kasten-Olson
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
2811 Agriculture Dr.
P.O. Box 8911
Madison, Wisconsin 53708-8911
Phone: 608.445.2010
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Department of Agriculture
Area of Expertise: Economic Development, Business Development, Livestock
Term: Started 2022; Expires 2025; Kara is eligible for re-nomination

Shannon Osborne
North Central Agriculture Research Laboratory
2923 Medary Avenue
Brookings, South Dakota 57006
Phone: 605.693.5234
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Technical Committee
Area of Expertise: Soil Fertility; Plant Nutrition
Term: Started 2016; Selected as TC Chair in 2022; Expires 2025; AC Vice Chair

Vance Owens
USDA-NIFA Beacon Complex
Kansas City, Missouri
Email: [email protected]
Sector: SARE National Program Leader
Area of expertise:  Agronomy; Plant Science    
Term: Indefinite; Vance started as SARE National Program Leader in 2020

Donna Pearson McClish
Common Ground Producers and Growers
2250 N. Rock Rd., Suite 118-130
Wichita, Kansas 67226
Phone: 316.200.1397
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Farmer/Rancher At-Large (Kansas)
Area of expertise: Urban Production; Food Systems
Term: Started in 2021; Expires in 2024; Donna eligible for re-nomination

Sherman Reed
5818 Naomi Rd
Eau Claire, Michigan 49111
Phone: 602.748.5679
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Farmer/Rancher At-Large (Michigan)
Area of Expertise: Organic Production; Natural Resources; Grains
Term: Started in 2019; Re-elected; Expires 2025

Mike Schmitt
University of Minnesota
College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
277 Coffey Hall
1420 Eckles Ave
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108
Phone: 612.625.7098
Email: [email protected]
Sector: NCR Extension Director’s Representative, Regional, At-Large
Area of Expertise: Agronomy; Soils
Term: Started 2012; Re-elected; Expires 2025

Stephanie Singer
210 Clinton Street
Defiance, Ohio 43512
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Non-profit, Regional, At-Large
Area of Expertise: Water Quality; Conservation; Outreach
Term: Started in 2019; Re-elected; Expires 2025

Andrew Stumpf
Illinois Geological Survey
Room 202, Natural Resources Building
615 East Peabody Drive
Champaign, Illinois 61820
Phone: 217.244.6462
Email: [email protected]
Sector: National or State Geological Survey
Area of Expertise: Soil Health; Water Quality
Term: Started in 2023; Expires 2026; Andrew is eligible for re-nomination

Dave Welsch
146 County Road 1900
Milford, Nebraska 68405
Phone: 402.826.9691
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Farmer/Rancher At-Large (Nebraska)
Area of Expertise: Organic Production; Livestock; Holistic Management
Term: Started in 2019; Re-elected; Expires 2025

Sharon Weyers
803 Iowa Avenue
Morris, Minnesota 56267
Phone: 320.585.8446
Email: [email protected]
Sector: USDA-ARS
Area of Expertise: Soil Science, Nutrient Cycling, Environmental Science
Term: Started in 2022; Expires in 2025; Sharon is eligible for re-nomination

Zelia Wiley
Kansas State University
138 Waters Hall
Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Phone: 785.532.5793
Email: [email protected]
Sector: At-Large University Representative
Area of expertise: Agricultural Education, Diversity in Agriculture, Cultural Competency
Term: Started 2022; Expires 2025; Zelia is eligible for re-nomination

Steve Yanni
Bay Mills Community College
Administration Building
12214 W. Lakeshore Dr
Brimley, Michigan 49715
Phone: 906.248.3354 ext 8478
Email: [email protected]
Sector: Representative of a Minority-Serving College or University - 1994 institution
Area of Expertise: 1994 Tribal Land-Grant Colleges and Universities; Youth Education; Extension
Term: Started 2022; Expires 2025; Steve is eligible for re-nomination

Administrative Council Committees

Each Administrative Council (AC) member is encouraged to be actively involved with at least one NCR-SARE Committee. “Official” committees are self-organized, but committees – especially ones that receive NCR-SARE financial resources – are expected to get approval for their membership rotation and officer selection process from the AC, and they are expected to report to the AC at least once per year. Most NCR-SARE committees have at least 50% of their members on the AC; non-AC members can be staff, NCR-SARE alumni, or others who can contribute to the committee’s work.

Current NCR-SARE committees:

  • Alumni Steering Committee: This recently formed committee will help form an NCR-SARE Alumni Organization. The current plan is that the Alumni Organization would be somewhat independent of the NCR-SARE Administrative Council, but would report to and could request funds (used for purposes that meet NIFA and host guidelines) each year from the NCR-SARE AC.
  • Communications Advisory Group: This committee advises the NCR-SARE Communication Specialist on communications issues.
  • Executive Committee (EC): This committee acts on behalf of the AC between AC meetings. It consists of the AC Chair, AC vice chair, TC Chair, two at-large members of the AC, Regional Coordinator (to serve as non-voting, ex-officio member), and the PDP Coordinator (to serve as non-voting, ex-officio member). The AC elects the two at-large members each year; the nominating committee appointed by the AC chair presents a slate of candidates. Once a vice-chair is elected, he or she rotates to chair after a two-year term. Members are elected from AC membership. It is the intention to seek to reflect the diversity of the AC by including representation from Extension, experiment station, farmer-rancher, and at large members. The EC will regularly share information with the AC.
  • Farmer Rancher Grant Review Committee: This committee reviews Farmer Rancher grant proposals (currently about 140) and prepares a list of recommended proposals for the AC to consider funding (currently about  40). Membership consists of the farmer and rancher representatives on the AC, and farmers and ranchers from throughout the NCR. Part of the committee rotates off each year and the FRG Coordinator recruits new members.
  • Graduate Student Review Committee: This committee is composed of AC volunteers with some external reviewers.  They review proposals submitted in response to NCR-SARE’s call for graduate student proposals (currently about 50) and make funding recommendations to the AC. NCR-SARE currently funds about 20 Graduate Student projects per year.
  • Nominating Committee: This committee’s purpose is to help identify and recruit members for the AC and Executive Committee with special attention being given to limited resource and socially disadvantaged audiences.
  • Partnership Grant Program Committee: This committee consists of AC volunteers with some external reviewers. They issue the call for proposals and reviews the incoming proposals for the Partnership Grant Program. They recommend proposals to the AC for funding.
  • Professional Development Program (PDP) Review Committee: This committee, which consists of AC volunteers and one or two non-AC members recruited by the PDP Coordinator. The committee reviews the PDP competitive grant proposals and recommends a list of proposals for funding to the AC (NCR-SARE funds about 10 PDP competitive grant projects per year). The committee also reviews annual reports and proposed Plans of Work submitted by the NCR State Coordinators and recommends funding to the AC.
  • SARE Operations Committee: This is the committee that makes overall policy and budget decisions for SARE. Membership consists of the Regional Coordinator for each SARE region, one Regional PDP Coordinator (elected by the other Regional PDP Coordinators), representatives of several Federal agencies that SARE works with, representatives from the national SARE office and NIFA, and members of each SARE Region’s AC. In the NCR, the AC Chair is the AC representative.
  • SARE Outreach Steering Committee: The SARE Outreach Steering Committee provides input on all aspects of SARE's national outreach efforts, including budget development, publication topics, outreach priorities, and long-range planning. Committee members are drawn from around the country to represent the diversity of U.S. agriculture. The regional Communications Specialist serves on this committee, and each regional Administrative Council selects one member to serve on this committee.
  • Technical Committee (TC): This committee is specified in the legislation establishing SARE. In the NCR, this approximately 20-person committee reviews Research & Education full grant proposals (currently about 35) and prepares a recommended list of technically acceptable proposals for the AC to consider funding. Terms are three years. NCR-SARE currently allocates about $3.5 million annually for the R&E grant program and funds about 14 projects per year. The Technical Committee chair has a seat on ex officio seat on the AC. Two additional AC members volunteer to serve two-year terms on the TC.
  • Youth Educator Committee: This committee is composed of AC volunteers and some external reviewers with an interest in educating youth about sustainable agriculture. They review Youth Educator Grant Program proposals and recommend proposals to the AC for funding. They also engage in outreach for Youth Educators.

Administrative Council Nominations

NCR-SARE seeks nominees for the seats on its Administrative Council on an annual basis.

Council members must be from one of the 12 states that comprise the North Central SARE region. Those states are IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, and WI.

The term for each of these SARE Administrative Council slots is three years. Council members attend two meetings a year, typically 2-3 day meetings in July and Feb./March at various Midwest locations, and also participate in a few conference calls each year. Travel expenses are fully covered for travel to Administrative Council meetings. Nominees should have a basic understanding of sustainable agriculture and be comfortable with reviewing grant proposals and participating in a group decision-making process.

To nominate yourself for a seat on the NCR-SARE Administrative Council, check with the NCR-SARE office to see which positions are open, and then submit the following information using our online form.

  • the nominee’s areas of interest or focus in sustainable agriculture
  • why the nominee is interested in serving on NCR-SARE's Administrative Council
  • the nominee’s experience, affiliations and/or qualifications

Nominations should be submitted online. We will acknowledge receipt of the materials and send a reply regarding the outcome of the election.

NCR-SARE is one of four regional offices that run the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, a nationwide grants and education program to advance sustainable innovation to American agriculture. Since 1988, NCR-SARE has awarded more than $40 million worth of competitive grants to farmers and ranchers, researchers, educators, public and private institutions, nonprofit groups, and others exploring sustainable agriculture in 12 states. The SARE program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA).