Peggy SechristCertified Educator, Holistic Management International
Peggy Sechrist, a student of holism and practitioner of Holistic Management for 25 years is also a Certified Educator in Holistic Management since 1992; and resides in the Hill Country of Texas near Fredericksburg with her husband, Richard.
Through application of Holistic Management, Peggy and Richard were the first ranchers in Texas to create a certified organic, grass-fed beef operation in 1995 adding production of pastured poultry in 1998. She has advocated for and served sustainable agriculture for many years in collaboration with numerous agricultural and wildlife agencies including Texas A&M University, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Dept of Agriculture, NRCS, served on the SSAWG Board of Directors (Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group), and the USDA/SARE Administrative Council.
Peggy continues to provide training and coaching in Holistic Management throughout Texas. Currently she is the Hill Country Advisor for the Soil for Water Initiative, a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology focused on educating landowners about ways to increase the water holding capacity of their soils.
Kara KroegerSustainable Agriculture Specialist, NCAT
Kara Kroeger is a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology in San Antonio, Texas. Kara earned a bachelor’s in general agriculture at Texas State University in 2018. With a background in in grass-fed beef production, she is knowledgeable in the use of regenerative management tools to improve pasture health and productivity. Her work includes developing and managing the NCAT Soil for Water initiative, which aims to create a critical mass of landowners who are applying regenerative agricultural practices. Additionally, Kara became a Certified Herbalist at the Rocky Mountain Center of Botanical Studies in 1999, a Certified Nutritionist at the American Health Science University in 2003, and started training as a chef in 2009 with renowned chef Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due. She has owned Foundation Culinary, a nutritional consulting/private chef business since 2009.
Kathy HarrisDirector of Programs, Holistic Management International
Kathy Harris is Program Director and Professional Certified Educator for Holistic Management International, where she works with a global community of educators to help farmers and ranchers regenerate our lands, revitalize the economic integrity of their businesses and communities, and improve their personal well-being. She embraced Holistic Management principles in the late 1990’s to rapidly transition her young family from a hi-tech life in the suburbs to a more self-sufficient lifestyle on a small family farm. Her passion for health, nutrient dense food, and biodiversity led to raising dairy cows and goats; grass-fed and finished beef and lamb; chickens, ducks, and turkeys for eggs and meat; honeybees; nut and fruit trees and berries; and vegetables. Study of Holistic Management opened her eyes to the connections and relationships in nature and a fascination with soil, plant, animal and human biology and energy. Thus began her journey of 20 years of field experimentation with composting, compost extracts, Effective Microbes, paramagnetic rock/dust, and making soft and hard cheeses, sourdoughs, Lacto-ferments, and probiotic brews (Kombucha and kefir).
Colin MitchellSustainable Agriculture Specialist, NCAT
Colin received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin in Government with a minor in Geography and the Environment. He is a Texas Hill Country native hailing from Boerne, TX. Colin received formal sustainable agriculture training during his 9 month project management internship at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and is a PRI certified permaculture designer. After completing his internship, Colin went on to work on and manage sustainable agriculture and development projects in Central Texas and in the western United States. His passions and interests include intensive livestock grazing, agroforestry, perennial polyculture food systems, soil health and conservation, agricultural methods of carbon sequestration, utilizing landscape earthworks to increase water availability, intensive annual crop production and more.
Mike MorrisSouthwest Regional Director, NCAT
Mike serves as Project Director for the Soil for Water project, and he has been creating and leading food, water, agriculture, soil health, and energy projects around the country for almost 20 years. In addition to Soil for Water, his current and recent projects include Is Organic Farming Risky?, the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative, California Microirrigation Pocket Guide, and Energy Training for Agriculture Professionals. Currently based at NCAT’s Southwest Regional Office in San Antonio, Mike previously led NCAT projects in Montana, California, and North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and has taught at many colleges and universities around the country.
Technical Advisory Committee
Gabe Brown is one of the pioneers of the current soil health movement which focuses on the regeneration of our resources. Gabe, along with his wife Shelly, and son Paul, own and operate Brown’s Ranch, a diversified 5,000 acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, North Dakota. Their ranch focuses on farming and ranching in nature’s image. They believe that healthy soil leads to clean air, clean water, healthy plants, animals and people.
The Browns holistically integrate their no-till cropping systems, which include a wide variety of cash crops, multi-species cover crops along with all natural grass finished beef and lamb. They also raise pastured laying hens, broilers and swine. This diversity and integration has regenerated the natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Over 2,000 people visit the Brown’s Ranch annually to see this unique operation. They have had visitors from all fifty states and twenty-four foreign countries.
Gabe and Brown’s Ranch have received many forms of recognition for their work, including a Growing Green award from the Natural Resource Defense Council, an Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and a Zero-Till Producer of the Year Award, to name a few. Gabe has also been named one of the twenty-five most influential agricultural leaders in the United States, and recently authored the book, “Dirt to Soil, One Family’s Journey Into Regenerative Agriculture.”
Born in 1962 and raised in the city of San Francisco, Joe is the fifth generation of his family to steward land and cattle in California. Joe has worked on buckaroo crews in Nevada and California, as a lay missioner, community organizer and social worker with the Catholic Church in Latin America, and has taught high school in Washington, D.C.
In 1991, he and his wife, Julie, founded T.O. Cattle Company and have used the Holistic Management® decision making framework to enhance the health of their community and land and to produce a living from their work. T.O. Cattle Company leases ranches and markets Morris Grassfed Beef™ to eight hundred families throughout California. As a result, they are a profitable ecosystem based business whose lands are improving even as its productivity is rising.
Joe has guided over a thousand people across his ranches in the past twenty-five years, has spoken numerous times on the topics of Holistic Management®, stockmanship and ranching and is a founding member of Rancher to Rancher. He was awarded the Clarence Burch award for his leadership and stewardship by the Quivira Coalition in 2012.
Steve Nelle is retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service where his career spanned 35 years as a range conservationist, and wildlife biologist. Steve often engages as an advisor, teacher and leader in spreading the understanding of riparian areas. He is a major contributing author of Your Remarkable Riparian. Steve has been an advisor and botanist on the Soil for Water monitoring team since its inception.
“Well-managed livestock grazing is a tool that allows land managers to achieve both ecological and economic goals,” says Steve Nelle, a San Angelo, Texas-based range and wildlife specialist with more than 40 years of experience in the public and private sectors. “It is the only land management tool that can make money instead of cost money, so it is often the most cost effective, and perhaps, the most natural and ecologically friendly tool we have to manipulate vegetation, allowing us to improve range conditions and wildlife habitat.”
Betsy Ross is dedicated to the principle that healthy soil grows healthy plants, which is necessary for healthy livestock, and ultimately, healthy people. She is CEO and President of Sustainable Growth Texas, LLC and Partner in ‘Betsy Ross Grass-fed Beef’.
Betsy serves as the lead consultant for natural land renovation projects, guides pasture walks and field days, analyzes land for clients, and shares her expertise regarding what she “observes” with plants, soils, and ecosystem function. Betsy has been a Certified Soil Foodweb Advisor since 2004 and holds an MBA from the University of Texas. She is a sought after speaker at alternative farming and ranching events.
In addition, she operates with her family, a 530-acre stock farm in eastern Williamson County along the San Gabriel River. The farm is used as a ‘lab site’ for Sustainable Growth Texas and is also home to her herd of grass-fed and finished Red Devon steers. Betsy uses adaptive multi-paddock grazing in her cattle operation to foster healthy land and cattle. Betsy Ross Grass-fed Beef is marketed local customers and through on-farm sales. Tenderness, flavor, and consistency are Ross Farm’s mark of excellence. No corn, hormones, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides are used in the grass-based production system.
Dr. Johnson received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology/Microbiology for New Mexico State University and is Director of the Institute for Sustainable Agricultural Research at New Mexico State University. He currently conducts research in soil microbial community structures and functions by exploring the interactions and interdependence between plants and soil microbes towards improving: plant carbon capture efficiencies, system water use efficiencies, and reduction of soil carbon respiration.
This research is aimed at developing practical and easily-adoptable mechanisms to significantly reduce greenhouse gases while promoting sustainable agro-ecosystems. Dr. Johnson currently works with Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, Texas A&M, Arizona State University, Michigan State University, University of Hawaii, California State University Chico, University of California, Davis, and the Thornburg Foundation exploring paths to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, improve food security and increase farm and rangeland productivity through the development of beneficial soil microbial community structures.
Dr. Richard Teague
Dr. Richard Teague is a range ecologist with Texas AgriLife Research. Dr. Teague grew up and received his schooling in Zimbabwe, Africa. He received his BS (1972) in Grassland Science, from the University of Natal, Pietermaritsburg, South Africa and Ph.D. (1987)in Botany-Ecology at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has practical and research experience in grazing management systems, brush control with fire and chemicals on semi-arid rangeland in Africa and North America. He joined the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon in late 1991 as an Associate Professor.
He believes that research and service must provide the linkage that enables managers to base decisions for sustainable land use on the principles of ecosystem function. He has used four key elements to enhance this linkage: a systems research program, resource accounting, long-term assessment and partnering with rancher clientele. He uses a systems approach in developing land and livestock management practices that sustain natural rangeland resources and the people depending on the land. His goals are to (1) broaden the understanding of requirements needed to sustain rangeland resources and economic viability, and (2) generate science based information to allow producers to improve management practices on rangeland.
Dr. Teague has been an active advisor to the Soil for Water Project since its inception