2017 Speakers

Welcome to the Nevada Small Conference! The 2017 conference planning committee is excited to announce our speakers – we have a host of new and local speakers bringing their expertise to you.

Please find the completed Farm Conference Program here.

Catharine Anderson, USDA Risk Management Agency, Davis, CA
Catharine has worked as a Risk Management Specialist for the USDA-Risk Management Agency since 2005, after graduating from the University of California-Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and a master’s degree in Geography/GIS.  The regional programs that she maintains are Whole Farms Revenue, Mint, Forage Production, Small Grains, and Pecans and Forage Seeding. Besides working for RMA, Catharine is a professional seamstress. For the past 25 years, she has taught children and adults how to sew at her sewing school in Suisun City, CA.

Jim Barbee, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Sparks, NV
Jim received his appointment as the Director of the Department of Agriculture in 2011. He has worked on policy issues with both the Nevada State Board of Education and the Nevada Legislature. Barbee has served on the National FFA Board of Directors and Foundation Board of Trustees.  Jim has a Masters of Agriculture Science, Agriculture Education from Cal Poly SLO and a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science from CSU Chico. He is a graduate of Douglas High School in Minden, Nevada.

Felipe Barrios Masias, University of Nevada, Reno
Felipe Barrios Masias obtained his PhD in the Horticulture and Agronomy Program from the University of California, Davis. His background is in agroecology with a strong focus on cultivar trait performance, crop development, water use and ecosystem functions. He has experience working in different cropping systems from small-holder, low-input agriculture in Peru to mechanized, high-input agriculture in California. His work focuses on understanding how a suite of plant traits can contribute to enhancing crop performance, and increasing yield and water use efficiency.

Chris Bernau, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Fallon, NV
Christopher Bernau is the Great Basin Plant Materials Center (PMC) Manager for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. He joined the NRCS in January 2016 as the Rangeland Management Specialist. Prior to joining the NRCS, Chris was a Research Specialist for Extension at the University of Arizona. As an Extension agent, he was primarily involved in monitoring vegetation response after an assortment of treatments such as mechanically removing trees, seedings, grazing strategies, and herbicide applications.

David Calvert, Calvert Photography, Reno, NV
David Calvert is a visual storyteller specializing in corporate and editorial photojournalism. His clients include The New York Times, USA Today, Bloomberg News and Reno Magazine. David is a part-time instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and at Western Nevada College. He has an extensive portfolio in food and drink and outdoors Nevada, including local farms. David is team photographer for the Reno Aces, plays slow-pitch softball, and someday hopes to throw a knuckleball.

Jake Carrico, Nevada Small Business Development Center, Carson City, NV
Jake Carrico is an MBA student in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business. He is also a graduate assistant and business development adviser at the Nevada Small Business Development Center.

Jay Davison, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Fallon, NV
Jay Davison is a Plant Soil Specialist for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. His major interests are livestock grazing as an environmental management tool, evaluating low water use, high-value alternative crops suitable for producers, invasive weed control, and forage production/harvest strategies. Jay is well known and respected in the agricultural community for his dedication to helping Nevada’s farmers.

Rex Dufour, ATTRA, Davis, CA
Rex Dufour has been with ATTRA since 1994 and opened the California office in Davis in 2001. The focus of his work is writing about and training agriculture professionals on organic practices and certification, ecological pest management, ecological soil management, and farmscaping. Rex is responsible for developing NCAT/ATTRA’s Ecological Pest Management Database and several other publications related to organic production. He is also registered with NRCS as an Organic Technical Service Provider in California and Nevada.

Carolyn Estrada, USDA Farm Service Agency, Reno, Nevada
Carolyn Estrada is the state outreach coordinator for the Nevada Farm Service Agency.

Holly Gatzke, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Caliente, NV
Holly is Cooperative Extension educator for Lincoln County.  Her areas of interest are developing programs for diversifying agriculture production in Lincoln County, servicing premium niche markets in Las Vegas, and working on economic and community development in Lincoln County. Holly has helped educate farmers on hoop house production and season extension practices. She is actively involved in expanding value-added processing for Nevada’s producers.

Holly George, University of California Cooperative Extension (emeritus), Quincy, CA
Holly has worked with agricultural producers and community members for economic, environmental and social vitality for over 30 years. She co-authored Agritourism and Nature Tourism in California, a user-friendly workbook that has been used extensively across the nation. Holly is an active member of the National Extension Tourism Team. She is a fiber artist, woodworker, outdoor enthusiast and community network weaver excited to share her agtourism experiences.

Sonia Heckler, University of Nevada, Reno
Sonia Heckler is a masters student in Geography studying agriculture. Her main research interests include applied science, science communication and agriculture technologies. Currently, her research focuses on how high tunnels impact the climate and crop growth in northern Nevada. She is using data from weather stations, measures of crop growth and interviews to gain a better understanding of how high tunnels function in a high desert environment. Sonia received her Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science with a minor in Geography from University of Nevada, Reno in 2015. For more information on her research and experience visit hecklersonia.blogs.unr.edu.

David Hillis, Turnipseed Engineering LTD, Carson City, NV
David obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. His professional career has focused on Nevada water rights and water resources. He is the principal engineer at Turnipseed Engineering, LTD. and has assisted farmers, ranchers, golf courses, commercial businesses, and municipalities with water right issues.

Amanda Hull, Animal Welfare Approved, Tucson, AZ
Amanda was born and raised in Indiana, but has extensive work experience in the Westland and is currently based in Tucson, Arizona, as Farmer and Market Outreach Coordinator for Animal Welfare Approved. She has followed her passion for sustainable agriculture since graduating from Purdue University in 2009, managing small, diverse vegetable operations in Washington and Alaska and working in livestock management in California. She is particularly interested in supporting the creation of profitable, cooperative relationships for farmers, as well as promoting high-quality animal products as part of a healthy diet.

Dennis Jamason, Jamason Farms, Battle Mountain, NV
Biography coming soon

Ashley Jeppson, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Sparks, NV
Program Officer for the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Ashley received a bachelor’s degree in Rangeland Management and Animal Science from the University of Nevada, Reno. Ashley started with the NDA in 2010 as an Agriculture Inspector and is currently working with various programs including the Farm to School Grant, Good Agriculture Practices, Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and Federal to State Marketing Improvement Program.

Ed Kleiner, Comstock Seed, Gardnerville, NV
Ed has been providing seed and consultation services for more than 25 years. He is an experienced educator, farmer and business owner, and spends much of his time developing his 43-acre seed farm in Gardnerville.

Jeff Knight, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Sparks, NV
Jeff received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada in Pest Management followed by a master’s degree in Entomology from Utah State University. He has worked at NDA since 1985 and is currently the State Entomologist. Through the NDA, Jeff identifies insects and provides recommendations for general insect and other pest issues. He conducts and coordinates surveys for pests of quarantine significance and native insects of Nevada. Jeff also coordinates the release of bio-control agents for weed and insect pests.

Rick Lattin, Lattin Farms, Fallon, NV
Rick Lattin is co-owner of Lattin Farms, a five-generation family farm in Fallon. He sells at farmers markets and retail outlets, operates an on-farm roadside stand and commercial bakery, and is owner of Great Basin Basket, a 200-member CSA. Rick is a small business development counselor for Churchill Economic Development Authority and founder of NevadaGrown, a nonprofit Nevada corporation working on behalf of Nevada farmers.

Dan Macon, Flying Mule Farm, Auburn, CA
Dan Macon and his wife Sami have operated Flying Mule Farm near Auburn, CA, since 2001. While the operation was initially diversified, the Macons currently focus on small-scale commercial sheep production. Dan is also an assistant specialist in the rangeland program at UC Davis and is currently completing a master’s degree in integrated resource management at Colorado State University. He is a graduate of UC Davis and the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

Samia Macon, Flying Mule Farm, Auburn, CA
Dr. Samia Macon owns a mobile large animal practice in the Placer County foothills near Auburn. Her practice includes horses, small ruminants and beef cattle. A 1994 graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Macon also has practical experience raising sheep, goats, horses and mules. She lives in Auburn with her daughters Lara and Emma and husband Dan.

Steph McAfee, University of Nevada, Reno
Steph McAfee is an assistant professor of Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno, as well as the Deputy State Climatologist for Nevada. She is interested in applying weather and climate data to answer natural resource and agriculture questions.

Bill Mewaldt, Mewaldt Organics, Fallon, NV
Bill holds a doctorate in biology and has been farming in Fallon, Nevada, since 1984, dedicating many years of farming in order to demonstrate the sustainability of organic farming in Nevada.  Mewaldt’s Organic Farm provides organic produce to Fallon families, the Great Basin Food Cooperative, and upscale Reno restaurants.

Steve Moore, Elon University, Elon, NC
Steve is Professor of AgroEcology at Elon University in North Carolina, and is a specialist in use of energy in farming with GROW BIOINTENSIVE and conventional practices. He operates the first Certified GB Mini-Ag Center/Soil Test Station to enhance our knowledge of soil sustainability. He has created a bachelor’s degree program in Sustainable Food Systems with GB techniques at its core and successfully established a cooperative agreement between the Peace Corps and Elon University resulting in a program with a Peace Corps Prep Certification incorporating biointensive aspects.

Rebecca Morse, Osborne Seed Company
Originally from Chicago, it took Rebecca some years of exploration before finding her bliss on an organic farm in Washington state.  She began Jericho Farm in 1999, growing organic vegetables on one acre for CSA, local markets, and restaurants, complimenting farming with winter work at Osborne Seed beginning in 2010.  In 2014, when the role of product development manager opened up, she decided to cease operations of her own farm, to pursue the opportunity to support a large community of growers, sourcing and trialing new seed varieties.  Her current role at Osborne is customer support and sales.

Albert Mulder, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Reno, NV
Albert Mulder is the State Agronomist with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Among his priorities is helping Nevada farmers build hoop houses with Farm Bill financial assistance.

Bryce Omer, Meadow Valley CSA, Moapa, NV
Bryce and Lyndy Omer moved to Moapa in 1981 with 2 young children. Seven more children blessed the family over the next several years. With their three youngest children, and a new vision for their future, they relocated down the street, to the 20-acre Farm in January 2009.

Jennifer Ott, Desert Farming Initiative, University of Nevada, Reno
Jennifer received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and her master’s in Business from the University of Nevada, Reno. After working in the California wine industry for 10 years, she participated in the planning for the University’s Desert Farming Initiative and now manages the program.

Delane Pennington, Agape Organics A.K.A. The Apple Basket, Washoe Valley, NV
Delane and her husband Al are owners of Agape Organics A.K.A. The Apple Basket, the only commercial USDA certified organic apple orchard in Northern Nevada. They manage a u-pick orchard with more than 200 trees along with a picnic area and gift shop for visitors.

Tom Renner, Renner Farm, Smith Valley, NV
Tom is owner of Renner Farm where he grows alfalfa, specialty crops, lots of pumpkins and a corn maze. He runs a farm stand in the summer with fresh produce, honey and cottage food jams and jellies made with local fruits. Tom opens his pumpkin patch and corn maze every fall for local residents to enjoy. He is a former owner of Renner Equipment Company in Yerington.

Spencer Smith, Jefferson Center for Holistic Management, Fort Bidwell, CA
Spencer Smith is an accredited field professional and consultant for the Savory Institute and the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management.  The goal of both of these organizations is to educate and support producers in regenerative agriculture, increasing production and profit from an improving resource base.

Alex Soeth, Nevada Small Business Development Center, Carson City, NV
Alex Soeth is an MBA student in the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business and serves as a business development adviser at the Nevada Small Business Development Center.

Juan Solomon, University of Nevada, Reno
Juan received his master’s and PhD in Agronomy from Mississippi State University, focusing on forage crops utilization and management. He also has a minor in Animal Nutrition. His research focuses on understanding and unraveling the intricacies associated with grassland ecology, management, and utilization; developing and promoting sustainable pastoral-based feeding systems for ruminant livestock production with emphasis on grazing management, systems, and forage quality evaluations; and screening forage crops for key adaptive traits, namely drought tolerance and water use efficiency for both improved and native forages in semiarid conditions.

Tim SullivanSage Food Group, Grass Valley, CA
Tim is president of Sage Food Group, a consulting firm for the specialty food industry. With more than 20 years’ experience, Tim ran an FDA-inspected specialty food manufacturing plant. He understands the details of food manufacturing, branded products, co-packing and private label. Sullivan’s speaking and consulting expertise is in demand, at the Whole Foods Local Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco, and for over ten years a speaker at the UC Davis “Getting Started in the Specialty Foods Business” seminars.

Carol Sutherland, University of New Mexico Cooperative Extension/New Mexico Department of Agriculture
Dr. Carol A. Sutherland is an Extension Entomologist at New Mexico State University and also State Entomologist for New Mexico Department of Agriculture.  Annually, Carol makes numerous presentations on basic and applied entomology statewide to New Mexico’s Master Gardener classes, Pesticide Applicator Workshops, commodity groups and other audiences and events around the state. She identifies insects and their relatives for County Extension Agents, farmers, ranchers, pest control operators, colleagues and the general public. She also leads entomology activities involving New Mexico’s Future Farmers of America, 4H and ‘Kids, Kows and More’ events.

Mike Teglas, University of Nevada, Reno
Large open spaces and diversity of habitat types supports a wide variety of wildlife species as well as domestic livestock. These conditions lend themselves to the uniqueness of the state but also provide habitat for many tick species. Important tick borne diseases have been diagnosed in humans and domestic animals within Nevada but little is known about the distribution and composition of tick populations throughout the state. Most of my efforts go into investigating the role of tick borne disease in the health of cattle herds throughout Nevada. Currently I am identifying important tick species, and the diseases they carry.

Mark Williams, USDA Rural Development, Carson City, NV
Mark is the Energy Coordinator for USDA Rural Development in Nevada where he is the primary contact for its energy programs including the Rural Energy for America Program.  He has worked for USDA for more than 25 years. Prior to coming to Rural Developed in 2010, Mark worked for the Farm Service Agency where he made and serviced loans to family farmers and ranchers.  Mark is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara and Santa Clara University.

…and more to come

Please check back often as we continue to post information on our speakers. Speakers are subject to change.