We are thankful to our Board of Directors for their dedication in “creating opportunities for the next generation.” The group has a wide range of backgrounds and interests, with one common goal to move Pennsylvania Farm Link forward in the work it does in assisting new/beginning farmers and landowners in “creating opportunities for the next generation” while striving to continue the great farming industry in Pennsylvania.
Board members backgrounds and expertise compliment each other and intertwine to make a Board that will move Pennsylvania Farm Link solidly to the forefront of organizations which truly make a difference in the Pennsylvania Agriculture industry.
Board members include:
President: Patty Neiner, Project Assistant PA Women’s Agricultural Network
Patty Neiner is the Coordinator for The Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network which strives to empower women farmers through education, networking and support. In addition, she works with the Department for International Programs at Penn State and has presented at International Conferences. Ms. Neiner graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Horticulture. She and her partner run a farm in central PA where they raise hay, hogs and poultry. The meat is sold direct market at farmers’ markets. She has also worked for PA Certified Organic and The PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture. Prior to that, Ms. Neiner served in managerial positions within healthcare and restaurant food service. She has served on numerous boards and volunteers for various community causes.
Vice-President: Raechel Sattazahn, Marketing Specialist, AgChoice Farm Credit
Raechel Sattazahn is the Knowledge Center Director with AgChoice Farm Credit, which serves rural and agricultural customers across central, western and northern Pennsylvania. In her role, raechel is responsible for the Association’s customer education efforts and programs for young or beginning and small farmers. Raechel and her husband, Doug, own and operate Zahncroft Dairy, LLC with Doug’s brother and sister-in-law in Womelsdorf, PA. The dairy consists of 120 registered Brown Swiss and Holstein cows. Raechel is also part of her family’s farm operation, McCalls Ferry Farm, LLC in Airville, PA that sells retail beef. Raechel graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Animal Sciences and a minor in Agribusiness Management. She also holds an MBA in Food and Agribusiness from Delaware Valley University.
Secretary: Colleen Hershey, PennAg Industries Assistant Vice President, PennAg Industries
Colleen handles the social media presence for PennAg, keeping the association’s Facebook and Twitter accounts up-to-date and relevant. Aside from creating posts and tweets, Colleen also oversees the PennAg Horse Council and Manure Haulers/Applicators Council, coordinating regular events and meetings for those groups. She also assists with the planning for the PennAg Annual Meeting & Spring Banquet.
Treasurer: Jonathan Johnson, Sr. Policy Analyst, The Center for Rural PA
A senior policy analyst with 26 years of experience in analyzing and evaluating rural policies and programs for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Accomplishments include:
Developed and maintained the state’s first rural database on socio-economic and demographic factors;Organized workshops on rural community development issues (farmers’ market, tourism, economic development, etc.);Coordinated statewide policy forums on rural development issues; Prepared and presented testimony before House and Senate legislative committees; Evaluated statewide programs for impact on rural areas; and Initiated community visioning projects.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center works with executive agencies and federal, regional and community organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve the needs of Pennsylvania’s 3.4 million rural residents.
***Lyndsey Antanitis, Volunteer Turner Farm
Lyndsey is a full-time MBA student at Northeastern University, with a concentration in Sustainability. She volunteers her time at Turner Farm, an organic, draft-powered farm. She previously worked at Rodale Institute, as the Veteran Farmer Training Coordinator. Lyndsey, is a graduate of the Delaware Valley University Organic Farming Certificate Program and the Veteran Farmer Training Program. Lyndsey also served as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force for five years and three deployments, as a cardiopulmonary laboratory technician. She holds a B.S. in Health Sciences and a Certificate in Organic Farming.
***Herbert Cole, Extension Advisory Council, Penn State University
***Aaron DeLong, PA Association of Sustainable Agriculture
Aaron has been the Delaware Valley Hub manager for PASA since 2016. He is the director of PASA’s educational programming in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, and is also the statewide lead education coordinator for the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program. Aaron worked on farms in Chester County through high school and college. After earning a B.S. in Natural Resources, he worked in research science for a number of years. He returned to agriculture through exposure to agroecological principles, as well as food justice issues, at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). After completing a second year in the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at UCSC, Aaron spent eight years managing organic flower and vegetable operations for non-profits in Pennsylvania and Vermont, prior to joining PASA.
***Lauren Feldman, FSA Loan Specialist Officer
Lauren Feldman is a Farm Loan Specialist for the USDA Farm Service Agency. In her current position, she reviews farm loans for approval and helps loan officers through any challenges they ay face while administering loans to Pennsylvania’s farmers. She has also developed and provides a training program for new loan officers and loan analysts who are starting their career with the agency. Prior to her current position, Lauren worked in the Lancaster County FSA office as a Program Technician prior to becoming a Loan Officer in 2015. From 2011-2014, Lauren worked at Lancaster DHIA after attending Delaware Valley University where she obtained a B.S. in Business Administration. She currently resides with her husband on their hobby farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where they recently started their own breeding herd of natural colored sheep.
***Karen Gardner, PA Policy Associate, National Young Farmers Coalition
Karen Gardner is the Pennsylvania Policy Associate at the National Young Farmers Coalition. She works closely with young farmers across Pennsylvania, as well as with government officials and stakeholders in Harrisburg, to advocate for policies and programs that address the challenges and concerns of young farmers across the Commonwealth. she is particularly focused on ensuring that there is high-quality farmland in Pennsylvania affordable for young full-time farmers to purchase. Originally from Pittsburgh, Karen has been involved with farming, food systems research, and agricultural policy for close to a decade.
***Diane Matthews-Gehringer, Director of Farmland Preservation-Lehigh County
Diane Matthews-Gehringer is the Director of Farmland Preservation for Lehigh County. Her family operates a crop and dairy farm in Weisenberg Township. She has previously worked in agricultural research specializing in organic pest management and as a land preservation manager at a local conservancy promoting the use of conservation easements for land protection and preservation. Diane is chair of the Weisenberg Township Planning Commission. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University and Masters of Science Degree from the University of Delaware, both in the field of Entomology. She also holds an Associates Degree in Ornamental Horticulture. Diane has been involved in PA Farm Link since its inception.
***Tom Gettings, The Seed Farm
Tom was the Director of Photography of Rodale Press Inc. from 1971 to 1998 until his retirement. He also worked as a agricultural journalist at Rodale Inc., New Farm and Organic Gardening magazines, over those years.. He has been a member of the Lehigh County Agricultural Preservation Board of Directors since 1993 and a member of The Seed Farm Board of Directors or Advisory Board. a training center and incubator site for new farmers since 2010. Tom worked for Wildlands Conservancy, a not-for-profit, Pennsylvania land preservation / education organization, in various capacities until retiring in 2012. Tom graduated from Temple University in 1968 and served as a sergeant in the United Sates Marine Corps. Tom and his wife Linda have three children and live in Center Valley, Pa.
***Christi Graver, Penn State Extension Northampton County
Christi is the Agricultural Program Coordinator in Northampton County (part of the Lehigh Valley). Christi facilitates meetings, training sessions, and other liaison opportunities within Northampton County’s agricultural community through collaboration with local agricultural groups and agencies. Aside of being a team member and collaborating with fellow Community & Economic Development Educators, Christi also collaborates with other Extension Team Educators/Staff including the Field & Forage Crops Team and Animal Systems Teams to develop and project programs in the Lehigh Valley area. Christi is also working with Northampton County Department of Community & Economic Development to form “AgConnect” for Northampton County. AgConnect is a network of farmers, business owners, and service providers connecting farmers to business resources, training, and financing to grow business and promoting smart, agricultural economic development (modeled from Chester County AgConnect).
Aside of previous agricultural education and club involvement from Penn State and current professional Penn State Extension work, Christi comes from a family owned livestock and crop farm in Carbon County where she continues to farm with her family today. She also volunteers her time with the Carbon County 4-H Livestock Club as the Organizational Leader and Beef/Sheep/Swine Leader.
***Jody Leighty, Esquire, Stock & Leader Attorneys at Law
Jody serves as the chair of the Real Estate Practice Group and the Agricultural Industry Group, and also practices in the Estates Group. She counsels clients in both the Stewartstown and York offices on farm succession planning, business development, farmland leases, and ag preservation.
Growing up near her grandparents’ fruit and cattle farms in southern York County, Jody understands the needs and challenges facing the agriculture community today.
Jody is very active in the community serving on numerous boards and committees. Most recently, Jody was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for Steam Into History. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Pennsylvania Farm Link, Southern Branch YMCA, and on the grants committee with the York County Bar Foundation.
The Central Penn Business Journal has recognized Jody as one of the regions 30 “Women of Influence” and Central Pennsylvania’s “40 Under 40 Business People.”
***Sam Malriat, Rodale Institute
Sam is the lead organic crop consultant with the Rodale Institute, an agricultural research and education center based in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. For more than seventy years, the Institute has been putting science behind best practices in organic agriculture – sharing its findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet. Sam is part of a new, collaborative effort to help farmers transition their agricultural operations from conventional to certified organic systems by providing direct consultations to farmers that need support throughout the transition period.
Sam has a B.S. in Agricultural Science from Cornell University and has 12 years of practical farming experience in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland.
***Ross Pifer, Director, Ag. Law Resource and Reference Center
Ross H. Pifer is a Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law, and Director of the Rural Economic Development Clinic at Penn State Law. In the classroom, Professor Pifer teaches courses on Oil and Gas Law, Agricultural Law, Property, and the Law and Policy of Shale Gas Development. He has given numerous presentations throughout Pennsylvania, across the United States, and internationally on agricultural law and shale gas topics to audiences consisting of agricultural producers, landowners, attorneys, judges, governmental officials, academics, and the general public.
Professor Pifer received his B.S. in agricultural business management from Penn State University, his J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law, and his LL.M. in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. Prior to accepting his position with Penn State, he was an attorney-advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of General Counsel. He also has professional work experience as an associate attorney with a private law firm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and as a territory manager for the Nutrena Feeds Division of Cargill, Inc. Additionally, he served on active duty with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps in support of the NATO Regional Headquarters, Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) where he provided advice and representation to military personnel and commands in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, and Germany.
***Mackenzie Strawser, Council Director, PennAg Industries
Mackenzie Strawser, Council Director at PennAg Industries. Her duties include overseeing the Poultry, Feed, Grain, and Allied Industries, Seed and Agronomic Councils, as well as coordinating regular events and meetings for those groups and managing their social media accounts.
Mackenzie is also a part of her family’s farm operation in Carlisle, PA that raises beef cattle and sheep. Mackenzie graduated with a B.S. in Animal Sciences and a minor in Agribusiness Management from the Pennsylvania State University.
**Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturist
Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.
He is based in Lebanon County. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.
John Vogel was the former Editor of American Agriculturist, a farm business publication/website serving Northeast agriculture from Maine to Maryland. He oversaw editorial content, and covered ag technology, finance and policy issues for Penton Ag.
As Farm Link’s co-founder, John and others were instrumental in developing the forerunner of today’s Next Generation Farmer Loan Program. Farm-raised and with a B.S. from Iowa State University, he managed his family’s central Iowa farm until selling it in 2003.
John serves on Penn State’s Ag Council, Penn Veterinary School’s Board of Overseers and Christian Farmers Outreach’s board. He’s a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumnus and honorary national Alpha Zeta member.
***Darrin Youker, Director of State Government Affairs, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
Darrin Youker serves as Director of State Government Affairs for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. In that role, Youker advocates for farmers on agriculture and rural life issues. Prior to taking that role, Youker served as Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Director of Member Communication, acting as editor of Country Focus and Positively Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s two member publications. He also served as the chief photographer and videographer, documenting Farm Bureau events and activities.
Youker also serves as the Governor’s representative on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a bipartisan agency of the General Assembly that researches issues relevant to rural Pennsylvania.
Prior to joining Farm Bureau, Youker worked for more than a dozen years as a daily newspaper reporter for publications in New York and Pennsylvania. He received his degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia.
PA Farm Link Staff:
Darlene Livingston, PA Farm Link Executive Director
Marlene M. Kaltenbach, Western PA Farm Link Associate
Michelle Kirk, Eastern PA Farm Link Associate