NCR-SARE Announces 2017 Heroes

NCR-SARE announces that Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant of Greenview, Illinois, Ferd Hoefner of Takoma Park, Maryland, and Margaret Krome of Madison, Wisconsin are being honored as 2017 NCR-SARE Heroes.

Coordinated by the NCR-SARE Alumni Organization, this recognition honors the leadership, vision, contributions, and impact that these heroes have made in the field of sustainable agriculture in the north central region. The NCR-SARE Hero Award recognizes individuals who have 1) provided service to NCR-SARE and/or national SARE, 2) leadership in sustainable agriculture locally and regionally, and 3) lasting impacts on sustainability in the North Central region.

Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant has more than three decades of experience working in sustainable agriculture and local food systems. Holding a master’s degree in environmental studies, as well as undergraduate degrees in horticulture, crop and soil science, and secondary education, Cavanaugh-Grant has served in a number of roles that have advanced sustainability. She served as the Resource Planner and Coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program for the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources (1987-1992), the Executive Director for the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Network (1992-1994), the Co-Coordinator of the University of Illinois Agroecology Sustainable Agriculture Program (1994-2006), and as the University of Illinois Extension Specialist for Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture, providing statewide leadership for educational programming (2006-2011). From 2004-2011, she was the co-founder and co-facilitator for the Central Illinois Farm Beginnings Program, which continues to train new farmers and has educated 199 participants during the 12 years of operation, and from 2011-2015, she was a Local Food Systems and Small Farm Educator at the University of Illinois Extension. Her service to NCR-SARE includes her role as the Illinois SARE State Coordinator (1994-2010), as a member of the NCR-SARE’s Technical Committee (1994-1997) and as a member of NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (1999-2002). After retiring from the University of Illinois Extension in 2015, Cavanaugh-Grant started her own business, New Leaf Consulting, and currently serves [on the board for] a number of organizations including the Illinois Farmers Market Association, Grow Springfield, Slow Food Springfield, and Spence Farm Foundation.

Ferd Hoefner has worked since the late 1970s to advance sustainable agriculture’s role in the U.S. food and farm system, and has been a leader in the sustainable agriculture community for more than 30 years, with a focus on federal policy and advocacy. He holds an undergraduate degree in government from Oberlin College, where he began his path in sustainable farming as he helped build a greenhouse and learned about composting on the student farm. For nearly a decade after he left Oberlin, he represented Interfaith Action for Economic Justice and the Interreligious Taskforce on U.S. Food Policy, during which time he helped to pass the Agricultural Productivity Act which provided the initial, early authorization for the LISA program, SARE’s forerunner. He was a policy consultant for Bread for the World, the Center for Rural Affairs, Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies, the Land Stewardship Project, the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, the Presbyterian Church, and the U.S. Catholic Conference, among others. As a founding staff member of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), Hoefner led NSAC’s federal policy work from 1988-2016, which included promoting the development of the SARE program in the late 1980’s. As an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocate for federal policies supporting the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities, NSAC has been a leading voice for sustainable agriculture and the SARE program in the federal policy arena. Throughout his career, Hoefner has partnered with dozens of organizations in the North Central region, working closely with farmers, researchers, processors, and advocates to ensure that federal policy benefits family farmers in the region. Hoefner currently serves in a mentoring and advisory role to NSAC as their Senior Strategic Advisor.

Margaret Krome has spent thirty years developing programs and policies supporting sustainable agriculture. Krome’s interest in agriculture dates back to her childhood, as the grandchild of a Florida avocado and citrus grower. She holds an English degree from University of Virginia, and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute, which she attended after serving as an agro-forester in the Peace Corps, in Cameroon. Krome remained in Wisconsin where worked for the Wisconsin Rural Development Center (1986-1995), and then joined the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI) in 1995, where she continues to work today overseeing their policy program, including her work on the annual campaign to fund federal programs supported by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. An asset to sustainable agriculture in Wisconsin, Krome helped develop the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, the UW-Madison’s Pesticide Use and Risk Reduction program, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program, and the state’s farm-to-school program, among others. Krome’s service to NCR-SARE includes her membership on the advisory committee for Wisconsin’s State SARE Program, where she offers input to Wisconsin State SARE coordinator, Diane Mayerfeld. In addition to her work with MFAI, Krome currently serves on the board of the National Center for Appropriate Technology and writes a bi-weekly editorial column for The Capital Times in Madison.

Leaders in sustainable agriculture offered tributes that have been shared online as Cavanaugh-Grant, Hoefner, and Krome were nominated and selected to receive this recognition. Nominations for the NCR-SARE Hero Award may be submitted by anyone. An official nomination form is available online. The NCR-SARE Alumni Heroes Committee will review and recommend candidates to the NCR-SARE Administrative Council. Applications received will be maintained on file NCR-SARE and maintained for consideration in additional years.


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