JANUARY

Dr. Jerry Hatfield

Dr. Jerry Hatfield is a crop consultant and the retired director of the USDA- ARS Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. When it comes to outstanding, distinguished service efforts in science and education, he has devoted a lifetime to raising the bar on soil and water conservation research and education–and linking all components to a changing climate. With a background in agricultural climatology, Dr. Hatfield has focused his research on soil-plant-environment interactions and quantifying the effect of weather and climate on crop productivity.

Mitchell Hora

Mitchell Hora is a 7th generation farmer and entrepreneur from southeast Iowa.  In 2015, while studying agronomy and ag systems technology at Iowa State, Mitchell launched Continuum Ag.  Today, the company has grown to house the largest private soil health dataset and has amassed a footprint of over 40 states and 16 countries.  The company completed the AgLaunch Accelerator program, Plug and Play, and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. 

Hora attributes much of his company’s success to his on-farm experience.  After graduating from college, he purchased a farm to add to his family’s 150-year-old Iowa operation. The Hora family implements a wide array of conservation practices including diverse cover crops, relay cropping, diverse cropping systems, no-till, and conduct a wide array of data-driven trials.  For their efforts, Mitchell and his father, Brian, have been named to the “Soil Health Champions” list from the National Association of Conservation Districts.  Continuum Ag is a member of the Iowa Ag Water Alliance, and Hora sits on his county farm bureau board and is on the carbon working group with the Climate Action Reserve.  He has also participated in measuring carbon workshops hosted by the White House Office for Climate Policy.

To further the sustainable ag effort, Hora co-hosts a conservation-focused podcast, Field Work, which is produced by American Public Media.  The podcast has reached over 1,000,000 downloads in its first three seasons on the air.  

Continuum Ag won 4th runner-up in the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge.  Hora has been named to the Forbes Under 30 List, the AgGrad 30 Under 30 list, and was voted the “Rising Star” by his peers in the Amplify Network at Brookside Labs.  From the beginning, he has focused on helping farmers improve their holistic management system, focusing on both soil and economic resiliency. His life mission is to be a catalyst for regenerative relationships and a shepherd for God’s creation.

February

Gail Fuller

Gail Fuller co-owns and operates Circle 7 by Fuller Farms with his partner, Lynnette Miller. Emphasizing soil health practices to convert sunlight and water into meat and grain, Circle 7 offers grass-finished beef and lamb, pastured pork and chicken along with eggs to customers at farmers markets, CSA’s and urban communities like Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas. On site, they host an on-farm Airbnb, Harvest Host, and HipCamp reservations for guests to view the majestic Flint Hills in Kansas while experiencing life on a working regenerative farm.

Fuller’s life journey has taken him on a path from a 3200-acre conventional corn/ soybean farm to a 162-acre food farm that grows multiple species of livestock and literally dozens of different grains, fruit, nut, and vegetable crops (regenerative). Along the way, he has learned the value of healthy ecosystems to both his farming operation as well as his own health. Fuller puts emphasis on principles, not practices and thinks farming should be about (re)growing communities. Fuller believes we need to be growing our food in systems designed to live thrive according to nature’s principles.

Gail Fuller is also the co-founder and executive board member of Great Plains Regeneration and board member of Ecdysis Foundation with missions to develop and enhance soil health education for the widespread adoption of regenerative agriculture. He hosts Fuller Field School in Kansas which explores in-depth ecosystem regeneration, both above and below ground, which creates a positive impact on restoring soil health and local communities.

*Photo Credit Leia Vita

Jessica Gnad

Currently hailing from Manhattan, Kansas, Jess Gnad’s path in soil health started with a curiosity about healthy food options in rural communities. A dedicated soil health advocate with more than a decade of experience in the food, finance, and farming industries. Combining deep industry knowledge with experience to help guide campaign development, product launches, and content strategy for news media publications and event planning. Excelling in leadership, fundraising, and building infrastructure to launch a local food movement and farmers market as a community champion. Jess is the executive director and co-founder of Great Plains Regeneration and is a leader in her community with a Bachelor of Science – BS focused in Social Sciences of Diversity from Kansas State University.