Join with farmers in our Soil Health Caucus for the First Annual Meeting in January!

Do you care about soil health? Thriving ecosystems? Economic viability for farmers who are stewarding our land and resources?

 You’re invited to attend the Soil Health Caucus’s First Annual Meeting in January!

Soil Health Caucus 3-Part Annual Meeting
Tuesday, January 12, 3:30-5:00pm
Tuesday, January 19, 3:30-5:00pm
Tuesday, January 26, 3:30-5:00pm
Happy Hours to follow each meeting from 5:00- 6:00pm
Registration $15

Scholarships available for BIPOC and socially disadvantaged farmers.

Meet Our Guest Speakers!

For our very first annual meeting, we’re excited to welcome two incredible speakers to share the importance of farmers working together to build power, and how we can insure that power is built and wielded in way that centers diversity, equity, and balance not only on our farms, but in our food system as a whole.

Martin Lemos
Co-Executive Director
National Young Farmers Coalition

Martin comes to the National Young Farmers Coalition with a diverse background in sustainable agriculture and food systems. His experience includes directing farm operations at the Green Earth Institute, serving as senior agronomist and project manager in Ghana for the impact investment organization AgDevCo, coordinating local food systems programs in Brooklyn, and most recently working at BSR as a sustainability strategy consultant for multi-national corporations. Martin holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Hamilton College and a MBA in Sustainability from Bard College

Ricardo Salvador
Director Food & Environment
Union of Concerned Scientists

More about Ricardo: As the senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ricardo Salvador works with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to transition our current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable and socially equitable practices. Dr. Salvador was named a 2013 NBC Latino Innovator and received the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2014. He was also an author of a 2014 op-ed in The Washington Post calling for a national food policy, which is changing how many think about food and farm policy. Dr. Salvador earned a B.S. in agricultural science from New Mexico State University. He holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University.

Read Ricardo’s latest articles here.

Scholarships available for BIPOC and socially disadvantaged farmers.

During Session Two of the Annual Meeting, we’ll share the political landscape for 2021, and set our policy agenda. You’ll learn how to build campaigns that win, and you’ll hear from a panel of leading soil health organizations about opportunities to partner on existing soil health state policy, with Q & A to follow with our panelists:

Meet Our Day Two Panelists

Kris Reynolds, Midwest Regional Director American Farmland Trust

Kris began his career with AFT in January of 2017. Kris previously worked as a Resource Conservationist with the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District for 15 years. He worked with local farmers and landowners to develop conservation plans on their land. He also spent time as a Cover Crop Specialist with the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices promoting, educating and advising on cover crop usage. He is a Certified Crop Advisor with the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). He also holds specialty certification from ASA as a 4R Nutrient Management Specialist and Sustainability specialist.

Olga Lyandres, Senior Specialist Delta Institute

Olga utilizes analytical approaches, data analysis and visualization to facilitate the development and implementation of projects in Delta’s Land Stewardship portfolio. She leads projects that connect innovative solutions and measurable outcomes on the landscape, particularly in freshwater ecosystems. Prior to joining Delta Institute, she served as the Research Manager for Alliance for the Great Lakes, providing analytical and research support for policy work and managing the academic network for the organization.

Cindy Skrukrud, Clean Water Program Director Sierra Club

Cindy works with community members, public officials and business leaders throughout Illinois to advocate for sustainable development/redevelopment, improved wastewater treatment, industrial pollution prevention, protection of natural and agricultural lands, and river restoration to better protect the water quality of our state’s lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. She retired in 2020 after working on clean water policy for the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club for 21 years. She serves on the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council.

Grant Hammer, Executive Director IL Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Prior to joining the AISWCD, he served as Chief of Staff at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Hammer is a seasoned public affairs professional with two decades of experience working in state government and politics, having served under members of the Illinois General Assembly and constitutional office holders, alike. Hammer is a Springfield native, and serves on the Board of Trustees for his local park system and also coaches youth ice hockey.

Scholarships available for BIPOC and socially disadvantaged farmers.

This past year farmers and advocates like you came together to solve problems and develop a farmer-driven state policy agenda that puts farmers at the forefront of soil health and climate resilience.   

In the midst of a pandemic, farmers worked together to research issues, build relationships with decision-makers, and advance policy.  Despite the uncertainties, farmers continued to build soil health and the Caucus came together over virtual meetings to accomplish their goals.

Now it’s time to celebrate and drive forward! And we want you there! Join the Soil Health Farmer Caucus for our first official Annual Meeting in January.

During this virtual event you will: 

  • meet like-minded farmers,
  • learn how the caucus will work together, 
  • share stories of challenges and success and discuss legislative solutions,
  • hear a great lineup of speakers,
  • learn how to build winning campaigns, and
  • shape a policy agenda for advancing soil health and water quality.

Annual Meeting in a Snap Shot

We know it’s hard to spend all day in front of a computer, so in lieu of one long virtual meeting, the meeting will be in three parts, occurring on three separate Tuesdays in January! Each session is important and builds upon the ones before.

January 12, 3:00- 3:30pm: Optional New Member Orientation: 30 minute orientation to bring new members up to speed on the caucus operations and soil health organizing, 3:00pm – 3:30pm

January 12, 3:30-5:00pm: Soil Health is Political: We will celebrate our success, discuss our challenges, and revist “why we organize.” Martin Lemos, Co-Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition, will join us to share why farmers are important messengers, why soil health and climate is political, and the value and necessity of organizing together to create change.

January 19, 3:30- 5:00pm: Driving a Path Forward/ 2021 Policy Priority Setting: We’ll revisit our goals, share the political landscape for 2021, and set our policy agenda. You’ll learn how to build campaigns that win, and you’ll hear from a panel of leading soil health organizations about opportunities to partner on existing soil health state policy, with Q & A to follow. Panelists include:

  • Kris Reynolds, Midwest Regional Director at American Farmland Trust
  • Cindy Skrukrud, Clean Water Program Director at the Sierra Club
  • Olga Lyandres, Senior Specialist at  DELTA Institute
  • Grant Hammer, Director of the Association of Soil Water Conservation Districts 

January 26th, 3:30- 5:00pm: Racial Equity in the Food and Regenerative Farm System: Special guest Ricardo Salvador, Director of the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists will join us to share the past and present history of racism in the food and farm system and how we can be more intentional in our work as a Caucus to ensure we are driving a path forward that is inclusive and just. Members of the Alliance’s newly formed Local Food Farmer Caucus will also be invited to join.

Scholarships available for BIPOC and socially disadvantaged farmers.

Join the Caucus

The Soil Health Caucus Annual Meeting is open to all current Alliance members and new members. In order to participate in the ongoing work and decision-making of the Caucus, you must be a member of Illinois Stewardship Alliance. Your membership helps sustain the work of the Caucus to organize farmers and campaign on the issues you care about. You can become a member or renew on the meeting registration form.