Our Board of Directors is comprised of farmers with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. So that you can get to know us a bit, here is some information on the members of the Board.
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New London, WI
Rachel grew up as fifth generation on a dairy farm in central Wisconsin; her parents were early adopters and advocates of managed grazing. Seeing how this switch transformed the land and the success of the family’s farm, she then went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with an emphasis on grass-based systems and sustainable agriculture. She received degrees in Agronomy and Environmental Science, and worked in the Agroecology Masters program. In 2014 Rachel returned to her family’s farm to raise direct-market, grass-fed beef. She believes in the value and need for perennial, restorative agriculture and agricultural systems modeled after natural ecosystems.
Jason Cavadini, Secretary
Jason Cavadini is an agronomist and the assistant superintendent of the University of Wisconsin Marshfield Agricultural Research Station. He grew up on his family’s farm in the hills of La Crosse County, Wisconsin. It was there that he became intrigued by conservation farming practices such as no-till planting, cover crops, and grass-based agriculture. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Soil Science from UW-River Falls, and a Master’s in Agronomy from Purdue University where he focused on the use of cover crops as a soil conservation practice. At the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, Jason has been dedicated to integrating the practices of no-till and cover crops into Central Wisconsin. He operates a small pork, poultry, and beef grazing operation near Stratford with his wife and five children.
Amy has always been interested in the relationship between humans and our environments. She studied Urban Design at Portland State, then in 2001 moved to Madison to study local food systems and to work at the public library. In 2015 she threw in her lot with grazing and bought 40 acres in Crawford County. Since then she’s been grazing heifers, converting unmanaged woods into silvopasture, planting a depleted hayfield into extended-season pasture, building a fence and water system, and in general is heartily enjoying “learning lots of stuff all of the time.”
Vance Haugen is a retired UW Extension Agriculture Agent with 32+ years of extension experience. He and his wife Bonnie own a 230 acre grass based dairy in South East Minnesota. That farm, for the last 25 years has been managed as a full tilt rotationally grazed enterprise trying to optimize both the economic and environmental benefits to the land, cows and people. While there is always more to learn and improve on, the current Farm Manager, son Olaf Haugen, is continuing to move the farm in the right direction.
Random Lake, WI
On a farm where biodiversity, environmental concerns and sustainability are of equal importance, a herd of 58 New Zealand Friesian milking cows graze contentedly among green blades of orchard grass and white blossoms of clover. Cows, along with unconfined laying hens and a few pastured pigs, have grazed for more than 20 years on Heidel Dairy, a 294-acre farm operated by David and Angelita Heidel and their daughter and son-in-law, Thelma and Ricky. With a M.S. degree in chemical weed control from UW-Madison, grazier David especially enjoys being an owner member of Organic Valley.
Andy Jaworski, Treasurer
Green Bay, WI
Andy farms in Green Bay, WI on 216 acres that he rents from his parents. He began to handle management and operations of his parents' organic beef and crop farm in 2008. With an interest in Dairy, he began working as a relief milker at Full Circle Farm in Seymour, WI. In 2011, Andy entered into a share milking arrangement with Full Circle Farm where he furthered his knowledge and understanding of how to manage and operate a rotational grazed-organic dairy. In March of 2014 he moved his herd of 65 milk cows to his parent's farm where he has set up a one-unity robotic milking facility to see if high tech milking technology has a place in the world of grazing. He continues to manage the herd organically with rotational grazing as a key element to his business model.
Kevin Mahalko, President
Kevin Mahalko is a farmer/grazier from Gilman WI, a member Organic Valley CROPP Cooperative as a Grassmilk farmer and Grazing Educator for River Country RC&D and the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship. Kevin farms in partnership with his parents and the herd is comprised of 40 Holstein Dairy Cows on average with about 120 total organic grazing Holsteins counting calves, heifers and grass fed steers. He is a graduate of University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and is happy to put that conservation and natural resources background to good use on the farm. As a grass farmer Kevin promotes vibrant grazing systems because of the many benefits of biodiversity, soil health, disease resistance, healthy genetics, healthy food, and positive environmental impact that well researched and implemented grazing practices can provide. Kevin likes to see communities revitalized through all the positive impacts of managed grazing and organic farming.
Daniel is a 7th Generation Dairy farmer from Lena, WI. He has been involved in the forage seed industry since 2005 and has been at the forefront of many progressive forage systems in the state. He has helped hundreds of dairies increase their herd’s milk production and the profitability of their farms. Dan grows over 500 research plots each year on his farm and annually hosts hundreds of farmers at educational events to view them. He is a busy speaker, writer, consultant and innovator who still milks his cows most mornings.
Laura Paine, Vice President
Laura Paine and her husband raise and direct market grass-fed beef on their 82-acre farm near Columbus, WI. Laura is an agriculture educator, having held a number of positions in WI over the last 20+ years. For eight years, she served as Grazing & Organic Agriculture Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protections, assisting producers in developing and marketing organic and grass-fed products. She has done grazing research and education at UW-Madision and worked for seven years as an Extension agent in Columbia County. Laura is currently program director for Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, which places aspiring farmers on working dairy farms in eleven states for a two-year on-the-job training program. Laura was previously a GrassWorks board member in the early 2000’s, and has served as a board advisor for more than 10 years.
Jim & Ginger bought their farm in 1982. It was Ginger's childhood home. In 1994 Jim attended his first GrassWorks Grazing Conference in Stevens Point and says he has never looked back. They raise grass fed North Devon beef, pastured American Mule Footed Hogs and a selection of gourmet garlic that are all direct marketed. He was a co-founder of the Fox River Local Foods Network serving Green Lake, Fond du Lac, and Winnebago counties. Jim was a board member when GrassWorks first became a membership organization and served as its third Board of Directors President.
Richard (Otto) Wiegand
Otto retired in 2017 after serving 13 years with UW-Extension in NW Wisconsin. He was the Livestock Ag Agent for Burnett, Washburn and Sawyer Counties and coordinator for the NW Wisconsin Graziers Network in a six-county area. Otto grew up on a small dairy farm in Manitowoc County and operated the farm in the 1980’s. He obtained three degrees in Dairy Science from UW-Madison over time, focusing on ruminant nutrition during his graduate research. He researched the effect of tannins from tree forages on digestion in sheep in Ethiopia. Otto previously served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and Paraguay, working in livestock extension and forage agronomy. He also has a Masters in African Studies from Ohio University. Otto is passionate about international work, having worked on agricultural projects in twenty counties.