Board of Directors

Martha Brown - Red Lodge

Martha Brown – Red Lodge

Martha grew up on a cattle ranch near Sand Springs, in eastern Montana. After college in Bozeman, she completed graduate degrees in Arizona and Nebraska and followed a career path in college and university administrative positions. She lives in Red Lodge, where she loves the mountains and takes advantage of every opportunity to hike or ski. Passionate about building access and demand for local food and supporting sustainable agriculture, she is a founding member of the Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council and serves on the Leadership Team. Founded after a successful community forum on local food in 2011, the Council co-sponsors a FoodCorps service member, coordinates the expanding community gardens, annual food-related film series, farm tours, Farmers Market, organic food buying club, adult educational programs and classes, local food events and dinners.

Ellie Costello - Missoula

Ellie Costello – Missoula

Ellie is a University of Montana Environmental Studies Masters Candidate with a focus on agriculture and policy.  She started her work with nonprofit organizations in the field of arts administration about eight years ago while she completed her undergraduate work at the University of Virginia.  Even though you will occasionally find her filling in as a substitute administrator at the Zootown Arts Community Center, she has mostly left the arts behind to work in a different medium of community building: agriculture. Since she moved to Montana in 2009, she has done outdoors conservation work and, most recently, several seasons of farm apprenticeships.  She currently works with Garden City Harvest, caretaking an educational not-for-profit farm, and with Organic Seed Alliance as the Communications and Advocacy Intern.

Annie Heuscher – Missoula

Annie was born in Bozeman and has lived and worked around the state, country, and world in the meantime.  With professional experience in land use planning and economic development and academic degrees in planning and sustainable agriculture, Annie is thrilled to be back in Montana, putting her knowledge to work for the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) in Missoula.  Annie’s work for CFAC focuses on farmland conservation and beginning farmer and rancher development.  When not behind her desk, Annie can be found hoofing it up and down mountains in sun and snow or on the water, preferably on a sailboat, although rafts and canoes are growing on her!

Kim Gilchrist – Missoula

Kim is a Missoula transplant originally from New Jersey. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, studying sustainable agriculture.  She has a BS in Business Administration from Towson University in Maryland, where she spent the past few years working on communications in the retirement plan. Before moving to Montana, Kim did some work interning with a sustainable foods purchasing program for Maryland hospitals. Her goal now is to work on strengthening local food systems so farmers, communities, and consumers can all prosper. She hopes that someday we move towards a better food culture where we all appreciate good food that nourishes our bodies and souls.

Janet Hess-Herbert - Helena

Janet Hess-Herbert – Helena

Janet has lived in Montana since 1975 when she traveled west from Ohio to begin her graduate work at the University of Montana Environmental Studies Program.  Her thesis work involved researching the aquatic community in the upper Blackfoot River that led to her 32-year career with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. She worked in Dillon and Kalispell as a fisheries biologist and retired from the department as the Information Management Bureau Chief in October 2011.  Janet has lived in Helena since 1999 with her husband Jeff. Children include an organic farmer in western Montana, a kindergarten teacher in Creston, a firefighter in Austin Texas and a chef in Las Vegas, one granddaughter and another on the way! She has been a life-long gardener that now includes a 1,500 square foot plot in her backyard that she spends much of her summer and fall growing and preserving its bounty. She also loves most forms of outdoor recreation with backpacking, hiking and fly-fishing at the top of the list and indoor activities of sewing, knitting and jewelry making. Community service has always been an important part of her adult life that has spanned everything from president of her daughters’ elementary school PTA to co-chair of the Helena Growing Project, co-chair of the Helena Citizens Council and membership on numerous boards and organizations. Janet’s interest in AERO began in the summer of 2006 when daughter Kaly (now Harlequin Produce) interned with the Agricultural Program.

Lyra Leigh-Nedbor

Lyra Leigh Nedbor – Bozeman

Originally from New York State’s Hudson Valley region, Lyra moved to Montana in July of 2008 to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the FoodCorps program sponsored by Grow Montana and Montana Campus Compact (MTCC). In the last two years she has worked with MSU’s Farm to College-Montana Made Program helping to boost local food purchases to 15% and organize events like the Local Food Fair. Lyra attended Green Mountain College for her undergraduate studies where she received a BA in Environmental Studies. At Green Mountain Lyra fostered her passion for sustainability in energy and food production and lead her to Montana for a post graduation job. In the fall of 2009 she began her graduate studies at Montana State in Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems. She has continued her work as coordinator of the Montana Made Program and is working on a master’s project around tools for farmers related to on farm food safety regulation.

Jim Mahnke – Kalispell

Jim, a native of Washington state, went to school in Leavenworth, Vancouver, and Spokane before he got a scholarship to Harvard College, where he majored in History and Literature, graduating in 1955. He went to medical school at the University of Washington, Seattle, did a surgical internship at the University of Minnesota, then went back to Seattle for a neurosurgical residency. He served as faculty for a year at the Medical College of Virginia, for two years at Yale Medical School, then fifteen years at the University of California, Irvine. He was in private practice in Orange County, then Durango, Colorado. He retired in 1989 to Kalispell where he pursues interests in energy and creating resilient communities.

Nancy Moore - Butte

Nancy Moore – Butte

Nancy lives in Butte, Montana where she works at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) promoting local food systems in Montana. Originally from Ohio, Nancy studied Education at Ohio University and later lived in southern Chile for four years as an educator and rural development coordinator. She moved to Montana in 2010 and completed her M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana with an emphasis on environmental writing. In her free time Nancy enjoys all things outdoors, quality concerts, and wonderful meals shared with friends.

Stephanie Laporte Potts - Missoula

Stephanie Laporte Potts – Missoula

Stephanie was raised (mostly) in Michigan and studied and worked in the Washington, DC area before moving to Montana in 2010. She has a bachelors degrees in international studies and environmental studies from American University, and an M.S. in environmental studies from the University of Montana. Stephanie has a passion for bringing new people and interests together around food and environmental issues, and has worked in education, activism, and fundraising to help support positive change. Currently, she coordinates Grow Montana, a statewide coalition working to strengthen Montana’s local and regional food economy. In her free time, you can find Stephanie exploring the trails and hot springs of Montana and Idaho, or in Missoula with her husband, ducks, chickens, cat, and front-yard garden.

Elisa Prescott – Helena

Elisa, originally hailing from Vermont, lives in Bozeman where she currently works for Keystone Conservation, a Bozeman-based non-profit which focuses on helping people live and work in partnership with land and wildlife.  She is just starting to delve into the complex world of Holistic Range Management with Keystone, and enjoying the challenge. Elisa has worked with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA VT) and VT Food Education Everyday (FEED), helping to spread awareness about the environmental impacts of the food systems and the importance of localizing food. With a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and a B.A. in Environmental Sociology from St. Lawrence University, Elisa has a diverse and interdisciplinary background. She loves living in Bozeman and having the mountains right in her backyard.

Ephie Risho - Missoula

Ephie Risho – Missoula

Ephie, short for Ephraim, is a native Montanan who grew up appreciating creation, whether in the midst of adventures like being struck by lightning at the top of a peak or reflecting quietly next to the ripples of a lake. Over the years, living in different countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, and Taiwan, Ephie began to understand that there is more than one way to look at things, and that the status quo our society tells us is good enough is in reality quite lacking. After a BA at Middlebury College and an MDiv at Regent College, Ephie got busy working with church and youth outreach, and then a marketing job in the industry of water quality. He started a web and graphic design company in Vancouver, BC in late 2005, took a stint in the film industry, and after marrying his fantastic wife Michelle and fathering two kids, decided to move back to the homeland, Missoula, Montana. He is the director of Exit 360 Creative, a web and communications company, and a partner at Crucial Catalyst, where he represents a voice for bringing positive change in the areas of food, water, and energy in order to eradicate world poverty. He loves the wilderness, but especially loves his two little wild ones, who have come to appreciate the great outdoors too. As Ephie’s 3-year-old said last February, amidst 5-foot snow drifts, “Daddy, I want to go camping,” to which Ephie replied wistfully, “I do too. I do too.”