Our governance committee includes the Director, two faculty, a staff representative and the chair of our citizens advisory council. Each year, our Director is reviewed by this team.
- Erin Silva, Director
- Bill Tracy, Agronomy
- Amaya Atucha, Horticulture
- John Hendrickson, staff representative
- Joel Kuehnhold, Citizen Advisory Council Chair
Emeritus Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics | Works with CIAS on dairy grazing economics
Michael Fields Agriculture Institute | Works with CIAS on cover crops and soil health
Forever Green Initiative, University of Minnesota | Works with CIAS on dairy policy and market structure
From its inception, CIAS faculty and staff work with a Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) that provides guidance and input on CIAS programs. The CAC brings the perspectives and experiences of small- and mid-size farmers and their strategic partners from different parts of Wisconsin to the University and builds long-term relationships and trust. Current CAC members are listed below. Many past CAC members continue to provide leadership on sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Past and current members of the CIAS Citizens Advisory Council. Front row: Michelle Miller, Diane Kaufmann, Deirdre Birmingham, Clare Hintz, Andy Gehl, Bob Wills. Back Row: Curt Rohland, Tom Lutsey, Rick Adamski, Tom Ferguson, Mark Eslinger. Photo 2014.
Joel Kuehnhold – Council Chair
Joel Kuehnhold owns Lonely Oak Farm near Milladore, WI. His highly diversified farm is in the process of becoming certified organic. Over 100 head of sheep and a small herd of beef animals are rotationally grazed on 80 acres. His operation includes feeder pigs, 300 laying hens and two acres of vegetables. The farm’s unique location within a wildlife area encourages management techniques that work in harmony with nature. Joel has built an on-farm certified kitchen where produce from the vegetable fields is processed and sold under the farm’s label. Joel was the agricultural education instructor at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, where he emphasized the importance of practicing sustainability in agriculture. His classes were nationally recognized for their involvement in farm to school initiatives.
Kat owns and operates Cattail Organics farm, which grows and markets fresh vegetables and mushrooms through both wholesale channels and CSA. Kat holds an M.S. in Rural Sociology from UW-Madison. cattailorganics.com
Dan Cornelius, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, provides technical assistance to American Indian Tribes and Native producers. He also grows Indigenous corn, beans, and squash, as well as harvesting wild rice and ranching in his free time. iacgreatlakes.com
Andy is a fourth generation potato grower in Coloma, located 60 miles north of Madison. With his father, Steve they operate Coloma Farms, Inc., a 2,700 acre potato and grain farm. Both are very active within the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) and serve on several committees related to marketing, research, and government relations. Coloma Farms and the WPVGA work pro-actively with researchers and leadership within the UW system to address issues in the vegetable industry. Andy received a BS from UW-Madison in Agricultural Engineering and currently serves on the DATCP board.
Andy is a 4th generation food manufacturer. Established in 1896, Gehl Guernsey Farms (Gehl Foods) evolved from a regional dairy to a national aseptic manufacturer and co-packer with $250 million in annual sales. Andy gave up the position of president in 2011 to focus on healthier opportunities. Andy’s new company, Contract Comestibles, is focused on small batch manufacturing of sauces and dressings. Contract Comestibles is certified FDA, USDA and organic and regularly works with farmers and entrepreneurs looking to expand into the retail trade. Andy remains on the board of Gehl Foods in addition to holding a seat on the Leadership Council for Food and Beverage Wisconsin. www.contractcomestibles.com
Clara taught high school agriculture for 39 years. Her family started milking dairy goats and shipping milk in 1996, and has since built a vertically integrated agricultural enterprise. Four of her five children work in this family business. In addition to milking 800 dairy goats, they run a creamery where about 35 different varieties of cheese and yogurt are prepared on site, a retail store with locally sourced products, and a café featuring locally sourced food prepared in house. They are gearing up to bottle their milk in house. Additionally, they sell caramels made from the butter and cream, goat meat, and hand soap, liquid soap and lotion made with their goat milk. www.laclarefamilycreamery.com/
Clare farms in northern Wisconsin, near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. She runs a winter CSA featuring fresh greens and storage crops, plus treats like apple butter and apple cider. She specializes in perennial fruits and nuts as well, and she has a small market garden featuring heirloom vegetable varieties. She also raises laying hens. She manages her farm following permaculture principles and organic standards. www.elsewherefarm.com
Kevin started dairy farming in 1979, doubled the size of the farm in 1985, made the switch to rotational grazing in 1992, certified organic in 1994 and started shipping organic milk in 1995. In 2005 he sold the dairy herd and started to raise organic beef, cash crop and work for CROPP Co-op (Organic Valley) part time. Kevin took a full time position with CROPP in 2008 and sold the farm in 2012 after becoming a division manager for the co-op. Kevin has served on the Board of Directors for Equity Livestock and the Dairy Executive Committee for Organic Valley, and has served on many other committees with in those organizations. Kevin is currently on the advisory committee for the organic program at NWTC Green Bay. He believes that helping organic farmers become better managers and helping young people become farmers are two ways we can protect the rural infrastructure and the environment, and put people back on the land. www.farmers.coop
Scott Mericka is a first-generation dairyman. He and his wife Liana bought Uplands Cheese Company and Grass Dairy in 2014 with business partners Andy and Caitlin Hatch. Together, they run a pasture-based dairy located in rural Dodgeville. They milk 200 crossbred cows in a closed herd on 600 acres of owned and rented properties. They grow a variety of crops from forage sorghum, corn, forage brassicas, oats and peas, and grass-legume hay. Their diverse perennial pasture is the farm’s centerpiece, and Uplands Cheese Company adds value to the high-quality milk their cows produce. www.uplandscheese.com
Laura Paine and her husband raise grass-fed beef on their 82-acre farm near Columbus, WI. Laura is an agriculture educator, having held a number of grazing education, research and market development positions in Wisconsin over the last 20+ years. She spent eight years as Grazing and Organic Agriculture Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, assisting producers in developing and marketing organic and grass-fed products. She has also done grazing research and education at the University of Wisconsin and worked for seven years as an Extension agent. She worked for Southwest Badger RC&D as a grazing broker, bringing together non-farming landowners with livestock producers for pasture leasing partnerships. Laura Paine currently serves as the outreach coordinator of the Grasslands 2.0 project, a UW-Madison led effort which seeks to reshape Midwestern agriculture as a perennial, livestock-integrated, grazing-based system in the image of the original native prairies.
Jay and his wife Heidi farm 520 acres of grain and alfalfa near Fond du Lac. In 2018, they opened Ledgerock Distillery on their farm to add value to the grain they produce. They currently make vodka, gin and whiskey from their corn and wheat. They also grow alfalfa and corn silage for nearby dairies. Jay graduated from UW-River Falls in 1992 with a BS in Agronomy. He worked as a farm manager, sales agronomist, and agricultural loan officer, and is now a dairy lending specialist at Compeer Financial.
Tony owns Stoney Acres Farm, a third-generation, 120-acre, highly diversified USDA certified organic operation located in Marathon County. He runs a CSA operation and market garden, produces maple syrup, and rotationally grazes and direct markets beef, pasture raised pork and pastured chicken. Tony holds a B.S. in Education from UW-Madison.