Michigan Blueberry Producer, Georgian U-Pick Operator Among Those Honored As ‘Champions of Change’ For Agriculture

Fifteen next generation agriculture leaders from across the country were named “Champions of Change” for agriculture by the White House and USDA. These leaders were recognized for their efforts and activism within their respective industries and communities. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

Among those recognized are:
Kristin Fritz Kubiszak, MBG Marketing “The Blueberry People,” Paw Paw, MI: Kubiszak is the retail manager for Brookside Farms, a fifth-generation family farm located in southwest Michigan. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in social work from Cornerstone University, she returned to her family farm that focuses on growing and packing blueberries for distribution through MBG’s cooperative marketing network. Kristin is also on the board of directors for the Van Buren County Farm Bureau as the promotion and education chairwoman, where she strives to educate others about Michigan agriculture and the impact on communities.

Jake Carter, American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, McDonough, GA: Carter operates Southern Belle Farm, which is located just 30 miles outside of Atlanta and consists of U-Pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches, as well as a fall corn maze and educational school tours. He was recently elected as the American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Committee Chairman.

Jesus Rodriguez, Chelan, WA: Rodriguez was born in Los Angeles, CA, and is the son of Mexican and El Salvadoran immigrants. His family moved to the Chelan Valley in central Washington before he entered school to work in the tree fruit industry. He will start college this fall, pursuing a degree in horticulture at Washington State University. He plans to enter the tree fruit industry as a field representative for a fruit warehouse or chemical company, and one day, hopefully own his own orchard.

Lindsey Lusher Shute, National Young Farmers Coalition, Clermont, NY: Shute is the co-founder and executive director of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). Led by young farmers, NYFC advocates for policy change, provides business services, and creates networking opportunities for America’s new growers. Lindsey and her husband also own and manage Hearty Roots Community Farm, a diversified vegetable farm in Clermont, NY.

Ryan and Tiffany Batalden, Lamberton, MN: The Bataldens of Lamberton, MN, are fifth-generation beginning farmers. Along with their three young children — Finn, Lilly, and Stella — they grow certified organic corn, soybeans, oilseeds, and small grains on 380 acres, raise a small number of livestock, and have a direct-market popcorn business called Patriot Pops.

Bill Bridgeforth, National Black Growers Council, Tanner, AL: Bridgeforth is a fourth-generation farmer. He is employed by Darden Bridgeforth & Sons, which grows cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans, and canola using a variety of cutting-edge agronomic techniques and land conservation practices. Bill graduated from Alabama A&M with a degree in soil science in 1980 and is active in the University’s agricultural initiatives. As chairman of the National Black Growers Council, he advocates on behalf of black farmers in the U.S. and abroad.

Lee Haynes, Nature’s Best Egg Company, Inc., Cullman, AL: Haynes is an egg farmer from North Alabama. Upon graduation from the University of Alabama with a degree in business, he returned to the farm and has held a key management role in his family farm since. Lee will graduate from the Alabama Leaders for Agriculture two-year leadership program in August.

Melinda Litvinas and Jacob Hunt, University of Delaware Creamery and Windy Brow Farms, Newark, DE and Newton, NJ: Litvinas is the manager of the UDairy Creamery at the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She leads the student interns and employees through their hands-on experience at the creamery, where they learn the process of operating an agricultural business and engaging the community in the importance of sustainable agriculture. Hunt is the managing partner at Windy Brow Farms, LLC, and The Cow’s Brow Creamery in Newton, NJ. While in college, he worked closely with Litvinas in developing community outreach for the UDairy Creamery. After receiving a degree in animal science and agricultural marketing from the University of Delaware, he returned home to expand his family’s small business by opening his own creamery.

Adam McClung, Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, Vilonia, AR: McClung is currently the executive vice president for the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, and his wife, Chantel, works for Farm Credit of Western Arkansas. Together they run 7 Diamond 3 McClung Cattle Company near El Paso, AK.

Fabiola Nizigiyimana, Worcester, MA: Nizigiyimana is a Burundian refugee farmer and a single mother of five who speaks five languages. In 2013, Fabiola was a founding member of the Immigrant Farmer Marketing Cooperative, a USDA-Rural Development project to assist socially disadvantaged farmers.

Quint Pottinger, Affinity Farms, New Haven, KY: Pottinger is the owner of Affinity Farms, a mixed row-crop and herb farm in Kentucky. He pursued his education at the University of Kentucky, majoring in agriculture economics and upon graduation connected with various agriculture groups in Kentucky, including Kentucky Farm Bureau Young Farmers, Kentucky Corn Growers, and Kentucky Soybean Association. Quint currently serves on the Kentucky Soybean Association board, serving in a leadership education capacity and has just started a year of service with the Corn Farmers Coalition.

Vena A-dae Romero, Cochiti Youth Experience, Cochiti Pueblo, NM: Romero, who is Cochiti Puebloan and Kiowa Indian, was born in Cochiti Pueblo, NM, and is a granddaughter of a Pueblo farmer. She attended the University Of Arkansas School Of Law’s Food and Agricultural Law Program, where she received a Master of Laws degree, an advanced law certification, and worked with the Indigenous Food and Agricultural Initiative. She now consults for First Nations Development Institute, a leading Native American nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen American Indian economies.

Pierre Sleiman, Go Green Agriculture, Encinitas, CA: Sleiman is the founder and CEO of Go Green Agriculture, an innovative company that grows produce inside climate-controlled greenhouses using hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil. He holds a master’s degree in business from University of California (UC)-San Diego and a computer science and business bachelor’s degree from UC-Riverside. He is also on the Board of Directors of the San Diego County Farm Bureau and will graduate this year from the California Leadership Farm Bureau program.

Beth Tharp, Coatesville, IN: Tharp is a second-generation farmer who, along with her husband and parents, owns and operates Legan Livestock and Grain, a commercial swine, corn, and soybean farm in West Central Indiana. She lends her voice and experience to local community boards representing agriculture to connect her community with her passion for agriculture.

Desiree Wineland, Cambridge, NE: Wineland was born in Sweden and moved to the United States, where she became a U.S. citizen and served in the U.S. Army. She earned a M.S. in International Relations from St. Mary’s University, and attended studies at Georgetown University, National War College, Air University, and Harvard University’s JFK School of Government while serving in the military. Desiree and her family call Cambridge, NE, home, where she raises grapes, operates a butcher shop, and completed the Nebraska LEAD Program, Nebraska Ranch Practicum and Cow/Calf College.

Source: White House news release

Topics: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Berries Stories
Growers boot up drone technology on the farm
Berries
March 3, 2017
Specialty Crops Primed for Precision Agriculture
Employing the latest horticultural technology tools could have substantial financial benefits for producers of hand-picked specialty crops, according to a new research paper. Read More
Berries
March 2, 2017
Pruning Pointers for Dormant Care of Berries
If you haven’t started pruning your berries, it’s time you do. Read More
Berries
February 26, 2017
Advantages to Growing Southern Highbush Blueberries
Growers in some regions where temperatures don’t get too low could consider the benefits of Southern highbush varieties. Read More
Berries
February 23, 2017
Primocane: A Major Innovation in Berry Production
I’ve witnessed the rise of primocane-fruiting blackberries, from first selections to integration in the market. Read More
2017 Florida Strawberry Picking Challenge winners
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big Winner for Charity
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Registration area at the 2017 Florida Blueberry Growers Association Spring Meeting
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a Comeback
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Wish Farms mega strawberry donation
Berries
February 14, 2017
Wish Farms Shows Love With Super-Sized Strawberry Donation
More than 4,000 pounds of locally grown produce from Central Florida farming operation goes to help feed needy families in the Tampa area. Read More
Florida Beauty strawberries
Berries
February 10, 2017
New Florida Strawberry Shaping up to Be a Thing of Beauty
Unique variety, a collaboration between UF/IFAS and an Australian scientist, still in its early stages. Read More
raspberry closeup
Berries
February 6, 2017
Washington Berry Grower Accused Of Illegal Irrigation Appeals Fines
Gurjant “George” Sandhu says the fines were unjust, and the State Department of Ecology hadn’t provided adequate evidence. Read More
SWD On Raspberry
Berries
January 27, 2017
Spotted Wing Drosophila ‘Stars’ at National Berry Conference
Biocontrols, nutrition, and new varieties are also among the hot topics discussed at the annual berry meeting. Read More
Berries
January 4, 2017
Growers Say it’s the Best of Times or the Worst of Times for Berry Industry
Some say there’s an oversupply, some disagree, but despite challenges for the berry industry, most growers remain upbeat about the future. Read More
raspberry closeup
Berries
December 30, 2016
Berry Grower Hit with Fine for Water Use
Washington State Department of Ecology alleges grower supplied inaccurate water use figures, illegally irrigated two berry farms. Read More
A bunch of 'Sweet Sensation' strawberries lined up for photo purposes
Berries
December 20, 2016
Table Set for an Extra-Sweet Florida Strawberry Season
Conditions ideal for new, flavorful varieties. Marketing campaign aims to clue-in consumers. Read More
Vance Whitaker next to a bed of strawberries
Berries
December 15, 2016
Scientists: GMOs Not Part of Florida Strawberry Success
Misconceptions about what methods are used to breed new varieties spark need for public outreach. Read More
Action shot of an automated strawberry picker from Harvest CROO
Berries
December 13, 2016
Horsepower Mounting For Real-World Robotic Strawberry Harvesting
National Science Foundation awards grant for further development of potential industry game-changer. Read More
The Latest
Berries
March 26, 2017
Outsmarting SWD with Social Media
Entomologist in Kentucky uses social media for pest updates, trap catches. Read More
Berries
March 25, 2017
Florida Blueberry Crop Escapes Slap from…
Freeze protection tactics prove fruitful as local producers look to gain from Georgia’s loss. Read More
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Grower…
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
Berries
March 3, 2017
Specialty Crops Primed for Precision Agr…
Employing the latest horticultural technology tools could have substantial financial benefits for producers of hand-picked specialty crops, according to a new research paper. Read More
Berries
March 2, 2017
Pruning Pointers for Dormant Care of Ber…
If you haven’t started pruning your berries, it’s time you do. Read More
Berries
February 26, 2017
Advantages to Growing Southern Highbush …
Growers in some regions where temperatures don’t get too low could consider the benefits of Southern highbush varieties. Read More
Berries
February 23, 2017
Primocane: A Major Innovation in Berry P…
I’ve witnessed the rise of primocane-fruiting blackberries, from first selections to integration in the market. Read More
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big…
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a …
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Berries
February 14, 2017
Wish Farms Shows Love With Super-Sized S…
More than 4,000 pounds of locally grown produce from Central Florida farming operation goes to help feed needy families in the Tampa area. Read More
Berries
February 10, 2017
New Florida Strawberry Shaping up to Be …
Unique variety, a collaboration between UF/IFAS and an Australian scientist, still in its early stages. Read More
Berries
February 6, 2017
Washington Berry Grower Accused Of Illeg…
Gurjant “George” Sandhu says the fines were unjust, and the State Department of Ecology hadn’t provided adequate evidence. Read More
Berries
January 27, 2017
Spotted Wing Drosophila ‘Stars’ at Natio…
Biocontrols, nutrition, and new varieties are also among the hot topics discussed at the annual berry meeting. Read More
Berries
January 4, 2017
Growers Say it’s the Best of Times…
Some say there’s an oversupply, some disagree, but despite challenges for the berry industry, most growers remain upbeat about the future. Read More
Berries
December 30, 2016
Berry Grower Hit with Fine for Water Use
Washington State Department of Ecology alleges grower supplied inaccurate water use figures, illegally irrigated two berry farms. Read More
Berries
December 20, 2016
Table Set for an Extra-Sweet Florida Str…
Conditions ideal for new, flavorful varieties. Marketing campaign aims to clue-in consumers. Read More
Berries
December 15, 2016
Scientists: GMOs Not Part of Florida Str…
Misconceptions about what methods are used to breed new varieties spark need for public outreach. Read More
Berries
December 13, 2016
Horsepower Mounting For Real-World Robot…
National Science Foundation awards grant for further development of potential industry game-changer. Read More