Surprise, surprise: All four representatives of production agriculture in the 2024 cohort of Great Lakes Leadership Academy’s 2024 Leadership Advancement Program cohort just happen to also be active Farm Bureau members.
Charles Loveland is current president of the Jackson County Farm Bureau and a sales representative for Golden Harvest seeds, covering southeastern Michigan. He owns Smokey Oak Farms with his wife Krysta and their daughter Charlotte, raising Hereford cattle, hay, oats, corn, wheat and soybeans.
Mathew Munsell is current president of the Livingston County Farm Bureau and farms outside Fowlerville with his wife Amanda and their two children, Elnora and Elliott. Munsell is a proud leader on his family's centennial farm, where they raise a variety of crops from corn and soybeans to sunflowers and pumpkins. They also have greenhouses, a roadside market, and Munsell's Poultry Processing, where they process poultry for small growers, county fairs and FFA chapters from across the state under full USDA inspection.
Katelyn Thompson is vice president of the Eaton County Farm Bureau board of directors, and by day works as a senior farm, ranch and equine underwriter for Everett Cash Mutual. Growing up on a farm instilled in her perseverance and determination — valuable traits served her well in pursuing her education (animal science and business), as a small business owner, and in her professional work, where she provides risk-management solutions for farmers and ranchers across the country.
Carla Wardin operates Evergreen Dairy in Clinton County near St. Johns with her husband Kris. They milk 500 cows and grow corn, alfalfa and pasture grasses. Carla hosts the Michigan Ag Council podcast, manages social media for AgroExpo and AgroLiquid, and is involved in local government as a township supervisor.
Michigan Farm Bureau is partnering with GreenStone and MI Corn Growers to offer tuition-offsetting scholarships for the four participants representing production agriculture.
Other members of the cohort and the institutions they represent:
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy:
- Andrea Munoz-Hernandez: district supervisor, Remediation and Redevelopment Division
- Julie Staveland: assistant division director, Materials Management Division
Michigan Department of Natural Resources:
- Taylor Ridderbusch: legislative liaison
- Jason Stephens: assistant chief, Forest Resources Division
Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development:
- Michael Wozniak: environmental manager, Right to Farm Program
- Christina Carter: communications program manager, Great Lakes Fishery Commission
- Jenna Tews: supervisory fish biologist/station supervisor, US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Mike Witkowski: chief of staff, Michigan State Senator Roger Victory
- Jon Beard: director/trust manager, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, Public Sector Consultants
- Caroline Liethen: director of environmental and regulatory policy, Michigan Manufacturers Association
- Mitchell Schafer: vice president of agribusiness lending, GreenStone Farm Credit Services
- Andrea LaFontaine: executive director of the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance
- Ben Wickerham: program director for the Nature Conservancy, Michigan Chapter
- Tiffany Jones: diversity, opportunity & inclusion director for the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department
- Christina Stephens: NAP supervisor/volunteer and communications manager, City of Ann Arbor
Michigan State University:
- Christine Heverly: MSU Extension, Children and Youth Institute
- David Ortega: associate professor, MSU Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
- Marissa Rinkus: associate director, Toolbox Dialogue Initiative Center, MSU College Arts & Letters
- Rebecca Rogers: GIS manager, Michigan Natural Features Inventory
- Emily Sorroche: associate director, MSU CANR Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion