Erin Meier is Director of Green Lands Blue Waters, a collaborative initiative focused on shifting the agricultural landscape of the Upper Mississippi River Basin to more acres of continuous living cover to improve water quality, soil health, and agricultural and community resilience. Previously, Erin served for 14 years as Executive Director of the University of Minnesota Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. She has over 20 years of experience and training in sustainable agriculture, local food systems, food access, natural resource conservation, clean energy, community engagement and development, and facilitating cross-sector work groups and networks. Erin holds an MS in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University and BS in Geography from the University of Illinois.
Aaron Reser is the Associate Director for Green Lands Blue Waters (GLBW). Based at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, GLBW works with a wide network of partners across the Upper Midwest to increase continuous living cover on the agricultural landscape. In the past, Aaron led GLBW’s Watershed Initiative work and was the lead staff on early supply chain development work with Kernza™ perennial grain. Her expertise is in building and strengthening collaborative networks, linking key elements and individuals along the path from farm to market and illuminating all of the systems-support pieces that underlay that path. She brings 15 years experience in a whole-systems approach to building regional food systems. Aaron has an MPA from the UMN Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Jane Grimsbo Jewett is Associate Director and coordinator of the Information Exchange program at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota. She works with Green Lands Blue Waters on matters related to grazing and integration of livestock into cropping systems, and is the lead staff for the Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group. Jane has a B.S. in Agronomy and M.S. in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota. She owns and operates a small, diversified livestock farm near Palisade, MN and is involved with farmers’ markets and local food systems work regionally in northeastern Minnesota and at the state level.
Sarah Svoboda is the Communications Specialist for Green Lands Blue Waters. She brings over 10 years experience in communications, digital marketing, tourism, event planning, web design, business management, public relations and community engagement. She has led and worked with a large variety of organizations in many different roles. Currently, she sits on the resilient communities work group for the Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, after working with the organization at the U of M Extension in her previous position. Growing up in the small town in Southeast Minnesota, she has a passion for utilizing her skills to help rural communities and organizations thrive.
Green Lands Blue Waters is based at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota.
Steering Committee Members
Wayne Anderson — Principal Engineer (retired), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, St. Paul, MN
Meghan Filbert — Livestock Program Manager, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Ames, IA
Mike Gold — Interim Director, Center for Agroforestry, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Steve John — Executive Director, Agricultural Watershed Institute, Decatur, IL
Olga Lyandres — Ecosystems Specialist, Delta Institute, Chicago, IL
Diane Mayerfeld — Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, UW-Extension, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), Madison, WI
Erin Meier — Director, Green Lands Blue Waters
Linda Meschke — Executive Director, Rural Advantage, Fairmont, MN
Helene Murray — Executive Director, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
Jeri Neal (Co-Chair) — Independent, Ames, IA
Tessa Peters – Commercialization Manager, The Land Institute, Salina, KS (by way of Laramie, WY)
Gene Turner — Professor, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Terry VanDerPol (Co-Chair) — Community Based Food Systems Director, Land Stewardship Project, Montevideo, MN