Featured Speakers - Day 1


Kevin is Sand County Foundation's President and CEO. Kevin assumed overall leadership of Sand County Foundation in July 2015. In his over 20 years with the Foundation, he has overseen all aspects of planning, program implementation, and personnel and financial management. Kevin founded the Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative in 2007, an award-winning 11-western state public-private partnership to balance energy production, ranching, and habitat protection. He served as President of its Board of Directors until 2013. He led a 10-year program in the Great Lakes states and northeastern U.S. to enhance the regeneration of important hardwood forests that support rural economies and abundant wildlife. He has organized and facilitated regional, national, and international conferences among landholders, resource managers, and scientists. 

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Homer is Sand County Foundation's Chairman of the Board. He and his wife Darla are the fourth generation of Buells to own Shovel Dot Ranch. Their ranch received the Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award in 2012. Homer is the former president of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, Nebraska Hereford Association and Nebraska 4-H Foundation. He serves on the board of the Sandhills Task Force and has served in many positions within the National Cattlemen's Beef Association during 14 years of board service. 

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Dr. Stanley is a professor in the University of Wisconsin Department of Integrated Biology and Center for Limnology. The Center sits on the shore of Lake Mendota, often called “the most studied lake in the world." Mendota is the birthplace of the field of limnology, the scientific study of inland waters. Dr. Stanley's research interests include aquatic ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry; long-term change in ecosystems; geomorphic and hydrologic influences on the ecology of streams and lakes. The Stanley Lab in the UW Center for Limnology is home to research that emphasizes aquatic ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry. 

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Jeff is Chairman of Yahara Pride Farms and co-owner of Endres Berryridge Farms, a dairy farm northwest of Waunakee, Wisconsin in the Six Mile Creek-Yahara River watershed. The Endres family farms 1,500 acres of cropland and raises a herd of registered Holsteins. They incorporate a variety of conservation practices. Jeff is a fifth generation farmer, and has been involved with farmer-led conservation efforts for many years, leading the Yahara Pride Farms farmer-led watershed group since its inception in 2011. He has also served on the Farmers for Sustainable Food Board of Directors.  

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Lance is the Sand County Foundation's Vice President of the Leopold Conservation Award. He joined Sand County Foundation in 2016 after more than 15 years of experience in the outdoor sporting goods industry. Prior to that as a professional wilderness hunting and fishing guide. As chief sales and marketing officer at two outdoor manufacturing companies, he became a recognized leader in the industry for successfully identifying market needs and expanding the customer base by focusing on clearly defining a brand message and forming strategic partnerships. His work has been profiled in trade publications and television programs, and he has been honored with several high profile sales and marketing awards.



Pete Lannan is a fourth-generation rancher in Montana's Paradise Valley. His father asked him what he would do with his life while building fence the summer before college. When he unveiled his plan to ranch his father met it with a dose of reality that times were uncertain for the industry. Keeping his father’s prediction close, Pete has approached ranching with an open mind, curiosity, and innovation that have built land resiliency and opportunities for profit. Pete and his wife Meagan, own Barney Creek Livestock, an adaptive grazing operation in the Greater Yellowstone. Barney Creek partners with landowners to build soil, energize ecosystems and learn how to give more back to the land. BCL was the recipient of the 2022 Montana Leopold Conservation Award which recognizes passionate agricultural landowners actively committed to a land ethic. He is always willing to share ideas with others to advance this and future generations on the land.

Meagan Lannan’s passion for ranching can be traced back to chasing cows with her dad in northwestern Montana where she spent hours on the back of his saddle leaning, dodging, and ducking. Presently, she and her husband own Barney Creek Livestock, an adaptive grazing operation in the Greater Yellowstone. Meagan's town job is with Integrity Soils, working with Nicole Masters' international team of agroecological coaches training systems-thinking, boots-on-the-ground ecological coaches for ranchers and farmers worldwide. When not coaching, she can be found rolling out electric fences and calling cows to a new paddock in the Paradise Valley.

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Loran received the Iowa Leopold Conservation Award in 2023 for his innovation with relay-cropping on his family's 900-acre corn and soybean FLOLO Farms. Loran is most passionate about sharing what he’s learned with others, from local youth to farmers from Iowa, Ukraine, or Australia. Whether participating in soil health field days or podcasts, he’s helping forge a new path for modern agriculture.



Dr. Kate Ivancic is a staff scientist on General Mills’ Regenerative Agriculture team working to advance regenerative agriculture on 1 million acres by 2030. She is responsible for providing research support to further scientific understanding around regenerative agriculture outcomes. With a passion for optimizing global food systems, Kate has spent her career working to advance the efficiency and ecosystem servicing benefits of agricultural systems.

Prior to joining General Mills, Kate quantified the potential greenhouse gas benefits of climate smart agriculture in the Inflation Reduction Act for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Kate has served both domestic and international agricultural roles with the US Department of Agriculture in the Office of the Chief Scientist, Foreign Agricultural Service, and with NRCS. She was awarded an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and served as a Fulbright Fellow to Uruguay.

Kate is from Ohio and received her Ph.D. in Agronomy and Masters in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She lives with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious dog, Macaroni, in Washington, DC.

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Tyler is located in Lincoln, Nebraska and has been with the Bayer Ecosystem Services team for two years supporting farmers as an agronomist, and is now currently leading grower program development. Prior to this role, he was a production research field scientist within Bayer where he led sustainability trials in Bayer seed production. Before joining Bayer in 2020, he spent 10 years at the University of Nebraska Lincoln working in Extension and the Nebraska State Climate Office. His formal education is in meteorology, climatology, and agronomy.

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Jeff is a Bioenergy professional with extensive experience in biofuels, currently leading as NA Commercial and Technical Services in BioEnergy and Sustainability at BASF. He previously demonstrated impactful leadership in sales and operations at BASF Enzymes, Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits and Syngenta, significantly advancing the biofuels agenda in major industry players and policy.



Dr. Heidi M. Peterson leads Sand County Foundation’s agricultural conservation team and sets its strategic direction in research, and farmer and rancher engagement. She brings significant leadership, teaching, and research experience surrounding agricultural conservation and water quality issues. Heidi previously served as the Phosphorus Program Director with the International Plant Nutrition Institute, and prior to that at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. She serves the scientific community on the Agronomic Science Foundation's Board of Trustees, as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, and as an associate editor with the Journal of Environmental Quality. 

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Tuda Libby Crews and her husband, Jack, spent 37 years in Wyoming before returning to her family’s ranch in New Mexico in 2001. She is the seventh generation stewarding what is now Ute Creek Cattle Company. Through hard work, collaborative partnerships and implementing best conservation practices, Ute Creek Cattle Company was recognized with the first New Mexico Leopold Conservation Award in 2021 for excellence in grassland management and bird habitat development. It has also earned the National Cattleman’s BEEF Association Region 6 Environmental Stewardship Award. Assisting in the presentation to address succession and the future of the ranch are her daughter, Libby Crews Wood, and granddaughter, Bella Wood. Libby is a veteran educator now running an after school enrichment program. Bella has spent the last nine months living on the ranch, learning from her grandparents and supporting them. She is headed to graduate school in the fall where she will further develop Ranch Lab, a program she has designed to facilitate intergenerational solutions to today’s agriculture, rural and conservation challenges.

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The Warring family's Persistence Creek Farm received the first Maryland Leopold Conservation Award in 2021 for showcasing how farming, fishing and forestry businesses can benefit natural resources. He serves as a guide for youth hunting deer, turkey and waterfowl. He shows these hunters and their parents how conservation practices benefit wildlife. Kevin and his father are members of the Charles County Waterman’s Association, which provides public and legislative outreach on fishery regulations.



Jon is a first generation farmer who raises beef cattle and grows Christmas Trees. He and wife Sylvia direct market their Belted Galloway beef to consumers. Their Sherwood Acres received the first Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award in 2013 for their efforts to transform a tired, unproductive piece of land into a profitable farm that provides wildlife habitat and protects water quality. Jon serves as a mentor in the Land Ethic Mentorship program. 

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Soonnyoung and her husband Joungho Choi manage a 100-acre farm outside of Louisville, Kentucky where they raise garden vegetables and livestock. Soonnyoung is a mentee in Sand County Foundation's Land Ethic Mentorship program. 

She grew up on a small farm in South Korea. When she and her husband bought their farm in Kentucky, they envisioned raising food for their six children, but they didn’t know where to begin. The Land Ethic Mentorship program connected her with Jon Bednarski, the 2013 Kentucky Leopold Conservation award recipient.

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Ron and his daughter, Zoey Nelson, are the owners of Brooks Farms, a sixth-generation dairy farm in central Wisconsin. The farm received the Wisconsin Leopold Conservation Award in 2016. Their land will be farmland forever under Wisconsin's Protection of Agriculture Conservation Easements (PACE Program) as the land cannot be purchased for commercial, residential, or industrial development. Ron serves as a mentor in the Land Ethic Mentorship program. 



Jean is a fourth-generation farmer and rancher, and member of the Choctaw Nation. She and her husband Garrett Thompson own a farm and ranch in Temple, Oklahoma where they grow wheat and cotton, and raise a commercial and registered Angus cow-calf herd and a winter stocker program. Jean is a mentee in the Land Ethic Mentorship program. She is employed by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts as the Director of Programs. Her work is focused on assisting underserved producers throughout the state gain greater access to USDA programs though NRCS, FSA, and local conservation districts.

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Nikki is the Sand County Foundation's Conservation Outreach & Equity Director. She leads the Sand County Foundation's work with historically underserved farmers and ranchers, primarily through the Land Ethic Mentorship Program. She helped to operationalize the first community land trust in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, created a cross-sector network to address community food security in central Appalachia, and supported limited resource farmers in Alabama with Heifer International. She is based outside of Richmond, Virginia.

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Paul is a Senior Lending Officer of Mission Financing at Compeer Financial.  His primary role at Compeer is to provide loans and other assistance to emerging market farmers in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. He spent 11 years as county agriculture agent and department head with UW-Extension in Sauk County, WI, and served 5 year as Director of the Bureau of Farm and Rural Services at the WI Department of Agriculture. Paul received his Bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Campaign, and his Master’s degree in continuing and vocational education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Paul also has a small farm that he is bringing back into pasture production.

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Karen began her professional career with NRCS as a Soil Conservationist in 1998 in Michigan. She spent the next 10 years in Michigan and Wisconsin working directly with farmers and forester owners as a Soil Conservationist and District Conservationist covering diverse types of agriculture, both large and small, along with a wide range of conservation resource concerns.

Karen went on to lead water quality and performance efforts in north central Iowa and managed partnerships, business planning, quality assurance and performance metrics in Illinois. She currently serves as the NRCS Deputy Chief for Programs, after serving as the Kansas State Conservationist and in other statewide and regional leadership roles. Karen is a native of central Wisconsin, with a background in dairy and Christmas tree farming. She resides in Salina, Kansas.

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John represents American Farmland Trust externally and works to establish strategic partnerships that advance mission goals. Before joining AFT, John served as CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts, executive director of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts, and president of the Washington Association of District Employees. He has also served as manager of the Conservation Districts Partnership—a consortium of multiple conservation districts.  Before beginning his service with conservation districts, Larson owned and operated his family’s irrigated farm in Royal City, Washington. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in general studies at Washington State University, with an emphasis in agricultural economics.

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USDA-NRCS Chief Terry Cosby leads a premier federal conservation agency known for its 3,000 field-office network that helps farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners plan and carry out vountary conservation activities. Under his leadership, NRCS is implementing key Biden-Harris Administration priorities including once-in-a-generation investments in climate change mitigation through the Inflation Reduction Act. Terry's priorities for NRCS include ensuring equitable access to NRCS resources for all producers, addressing climate change, supporting urban agriculture, building a diverse and well-trained workforce, and nurturing partnerships. 

During Terry's more than 40-year career with NRCS, he has held numerous leadership and staff positions. He began his career as an NRCS intern in Iowa in 1979 and rose through the agency's ranks to become its 17th chief on May 24, 2021. Priori to his current position, Terry served as NRCS's Acting Chief for several months, and as State Conservationist in Ohio for 16 years. Terry also served as the Deputy State Conservationist in Idaho, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Missouri, and Area Resource Conservationist in Iowa. 

Terry conservation and agricultural roots run deep. He grew up on his family's cotton farm and attended a land grant university that prepared him well to serve all producers, including those who were historically underserved. His great-grandfather purchased the family farm in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, in the late 1800s. Terry earned his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education in Mississippi from Alcorn State Unviersity, the nation's first Black land grant college. Terry and his wife are proud parents of four children. His leisure activities including hunting, fishing, and spending as much time as possible with is seven grandchildren. 

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