Today at the White House, 12 agricultural leaders were recognized as Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. They were honored for leading efforts in sustainable agriculture that benefit soil, air, and water quality while helping to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions.
Among them was our newest board member, Erin Fitzgerald Sexson. Sexson is senior vice president of global sustainability at Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a forum for the dairy community to work together to foster research, measurement and innovation for farm-to-table sustainability.
Under Sexson’s leadership, the Innovation Center conducted environmental impact assessments that propelled an industry-wide voluntary carbon-reduction goal, and provided tools and resources to measure and track progress. She is currently leading the effort to enhance dairy’s contributions toward a more sustainable food system by examining the intersection between nutrition, health, hunger, food waste and environmental impact.
“I feel so fortunate that I have had the privilege to work alongside amazing people who are excellent at what they do and are personally committed to a journey of discovery, collaboration and innovation towards a sustainable future,” said Sexson. “I am truly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to work for and with dairy farmers on stewardship and sustainability.”
Erin is in good company. We would like to congratulate her and all the Champions of Change honored today. They are all contributing in valuable ways to a more sustainable agricultural future. Here are details about the 11 other honorees:
Anita Adalja, Farm Manager at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture in Washington, D.C. works to create a more equitable and sustainable food system through increasing food access, sustainable farming, farmer training and ‘farm-to-school’ education.
William “Buddy” Allen, a producer in Tunica, Mississippi and a member of the Macon Edwards Company who is actively involved in several agricultural businesses, including a large-scale multi-crop farming operation in Mississippi.
Keith Berns and his brother Brian are co-owners and operators of Providence Farms, a 2,000-acre diversified family-farming operation in Bladen, Nebraska and Green Cover Seed, one of the nation’s leading providers of cover-crop information and seed.
Larry Cundall, a Vietnam War Veteran and fourth-generation rancher from Glendo, Wyoming, is a leader in his ranching community. He was one of the first ranchers in Wyoming to sell carbon credits, and led efforts to help ranchers unite to sell wind leases on the windblown shortgrass prairie.
Herman “Trey” Hill of Rock Hall, Maryland, is partner and manager of Harborview Farms, which produces corn, wheat and soybeans for the Mid-Atlantic region, with a focus on sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship.
Loretta Jaus and her husband Martin operate a 410-acre, rotationally grazed, certified-organic, 60-cow dairy farm in Gibbon, Minn. Loretta serves on the boards of the Land Stewardship Project and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, has functioned as organic representative in Environmental Initiative’s Agricultural Leadership Dialogue project, and as an educator for CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley’s Outreach and Education Program.
Martin Kleinschmit is the owner of an organic farm in Hartington, Neb., that produces grains and raises grass-finished cattle on annual and permanent pastures. Martin mentored other farmers through a 4-year program that was instrumental in enrolling over 60,000 Nebraska acres in a USDA organic transition program. In an effort to conserve the use of fossil fuels, Martin now owns and manages MarLin Wind & Solar, LLC.
Jennifer “Jiff” Martin of Storrs, Conn., is the Sustainable Food System Associate Educator for the University of Connecticut Extension. Jiff has worked for over 12 years on food and agriculture issues in Connecticut, helping residents discover local agriculture, connecting kids to healthy, whole foods, and researching community food security in Connecticut’s 169 towns.
Jesus Sanchez serves as farm manager for Sano Farms, a diversified tomato, almond, wheat, garbanzo, and garlic farm spanning 4,000 acres in Firebaugh, California. Jesus is an eager spokesperson innovative conservation practices including the use of cover crops and strip-tillage and has provided many presentations to farmers from all over the world who are excited to learn from him.
Timothy Smith is a fourth-generation farmer who raises soybeans, corn and cover crops on his family’s Century Farm in Wright County, Iowa. Tim is focused on strengthening soil health and improving water quality and has worked with a number of organizations to implement new farming methods.
Donald Tyler is a soil management researcher in the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department at the University of Tennessee. He is being honored for his research and outreach contributions in the areas of no-tillage cropping systems which have reduced soil erosion by up to 95 percent, enhanced soil carbon storage from 1 percent to 4 percent, and increased soil biodiversity.
Read more about all the honorees here.