Making a Change for the Better


Roeslein Alternative Energy, Smithfield Hog Production, and the Environmental Defense Fund brought together conservationists, food producers, scientists, educators, farmers, policy makers, and other interested members of the community to discuss the future of responsible land management on and around the Missouri Grand River Basin. Additionally, this conference was centered around providing market-based solutions that significantly improve water quality, soil erosion, nutrient losses, carbon sequestration, and soil health.

United by a sincere interest in working together to produce food responsibly, while also providing energy in a sustainable way to meet the growing demands of global community, speakers at the Grand River conference presented studies and research on different land management and prairie restoration options. Attendees were asked to brainstorm new ways to bring these goals to life in the short term and long term.

Several initiatives have taken shape since this conference on May 17th 2018. If you or your organization would like to be involved, learn more, have an idea you want to discuss or a project with a similar mission, please email us at [email protected].

The more we communicate our ideas and projects, the more we can help each other grow those projects. We would encourage you to read Rudi Roeslein’s follow up letter from the event. Thank you for participating and more importantly thank you for caring enough to do more.


Video Presentations

Speakers & Biographies

Noel Aloysius
Noel Aloysius is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Bioengineering and the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri. He completed his PhD at Yale University, MS at the University of North Dakota and a BS in Civil Engineering at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. His research seeks to uncover how key drivers and mechanisms, both natural and anthropogenic, affect water and nutrient flow pathways and predict their behavior under environmental change.

His current research projects include estimating conservation measures needed to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from non-point sources in the Mississippi River Basin.

Erik Anderson
Mr. Anderson is an Associate at Environmental Incentives out of Denver, CO. Erik works with program managers and diverse stakeholder groups to design, test, and adapt new and existing conservation programs to achieve measurable conservation outcomes. Erik supports the full lifecycle of program design and implementation, from initial concept to operations, and specializes in performance-driven approaches. Erik also facilitates interdisciplinary teams to develop data collection and analysis protocols that translate data into insight.

Sarah Carlson
Sarah Carlson joined Practical Farmers of Iowa staff in the fall of 2007 and is currently the Strategic Initiatives Director. She helps transfer agronomic research about cover crops and small grains through supply chain projects, articles, blogs and presentation materials while working to improve the support for cover crop and small grains research. She also serves as an agronomist on the staff transferring ideas for solutions to integrated crop and livestock concerns from farmers’ stories, results from on-farm research projects and her own knowledge as a trained agronomist. In the spring of 2008 Sarah completed her Masters Program co-majoring in Sustainable Agriculture and Crop Production/Physiology in Iowa State’s Agronomy Department.

James Cole
James Cole is The Nature Conservancy in Missouri’s Director of Conservation Programs. He has worked professionally in natural resource conservation for the past 18 years, and brings a diverse set of skills and experiences to the field, including a background in engineering and—more recently—work in the Great Lakes focused on restoring migratory bird habitat and engaging stakeholders in a shared whole-system conservation blueprint. In his current role, James helps coordinate the work of TNC’s conservation staff across the state, a team that is engaged in such diverse yet interconnected priorities as sustainable agriculture practices, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity protection.

Steve Herrington
Dr. Steve Herrington is the Director of Freshwater Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Missouri. An aquatic ecologist with over twenty years’ experience in fish and stream ecology, Steve completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and doctoral degree at Auburn University in Alabama. Steve joined The Nature Conservancy in 2004 and currently directs all freshwater conservation actions in Missouri, as well as leads and collaborates on several large‐scale freshwater initiatives across the U.S., including conservation planning, dam removal and stream restoration, and protection of priority freshwater habitats.

Jacob Jungers
Mr. Jungers is an Assistant Professor at University of Minnesota. His research objective is to improve and develop new cropping systems that provide high-value agricultural products, mitigate environmental pollution, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. His research focuses on improving nutrient use efficiency of crops and cropping systems to increase farmer profitability and agricultural sustainability. He relies on the basic principles of ecology, field and laboratory experimentation, statistical analysis, and simulation modeling to contribute information to scientists, farmers, and policy makers. He co-authored Aspects of Applied Biology: Biomass and Energy Crops.

Clarence Lehman
Dr. Lehman is a Professor and General Advisor to the Dean at the University of Minnesota. His research interests include theoretical ecology and computation in biology; biodiversity, bioenergy, and ecosystem functioning; long-term database storage; automated methods for education; ethics, science, and society. He is interested in learning to manage the earth’s combined physical-biological-social dynamics for long-term habitability by humans and wildlife. He co-authored Carbon-Negative Biofuels from Low-Input High-Diversity Grassland Biomass and Aspects of Applied Biology: Biomass and Energy Crops.

Lisa Schulte-Moore
Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore is a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. She conducts research and teaches in the areas of agriculture, ecology, forestry and human-landscape interactions. Her current research addresses the strategic integration of perennials into agricultural landscapes to meet societal goals for clean water, healthy soils, abundant wildlife and inspiring recreational opportunities. Dr. Schulte Moore is co-founder and co-leader of the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project, which pioneered the prairie strips conservation practice. She is also lead developer of People in Ecosystems/ Watershed Integration (PEWI), a simple web-based educational game designed to help people understand human impacts on the environment and improve the management of natural resources.

John Murphy
Originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, John eventually moved to central Ohio where he earned a B.A. in Biology from Cedarville College. It was also there that he began work for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, in public land management. From Ohio, John moved to Northern Missouri, where he earned a M.S. in Biology from Truman State University. John worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation in a diverse array of jobs prior to being hired as a Private Land Conservationist (PLC) in 2000. Although not simultaneously, through the span of John’s work as a PLC, he had responsibilities in Worth, Gentry, Harrison, Mercer, Putnam, Sullivan, Schuyler, and Adair Counties. His passion in those counties was fire ecology and the restoration of natural communities, especially prairie and savannas.

Since March of 2017 John has been a part of the RAE team, continuing to work on solutions to positively affect natural resources. He and his wife, Sharon, reside just outside of Kirksville, Missouri with their five children.

Michael Rainwater
Since the fall of 2011 has performed the position of General Manger of Smithfield Hog Production – Missouri, LLC (Formerly Premium Standard Farms, LLC).  SHP – Missouri a farrow to finish operation that has over 1,000 employees, contains over 50 company owned sow farms (115,000 sows), over 1million company owned grow-finish spaces, and approximately 225,000 contract grow-finish space.   The operations also include, boar stud facilities, internal multiplication of replacement animals, company owned feed milling facilities, company owned trucking fleet for all internal and external movements of animals, trucking fleet for all internal feed, nutrient management to support the operations on 44,000 acres of company owned land.

His body of work includes 25 years of diverse experience in Senior Management which including subsidiaries of Fortune Global 500 Companies and development of a dairy production operation that became the largest in United States, with 18,500 cows in the states of Georgia, Texas, and California.  Proven history of improving profits, quality, customer satisfaction, and productivity.  Demonstrated success in solving complex legal and social issues, building efficient teams, managing multiple projects and functions, and cultivating positive relationships and strategic alliances. Highly developed communications, negotiations, organizational, and interpersonal skills

Rudi Roeslein
Mr. Roeslein is a passionate about wildlife and conservation. He is a Missouri landowner dedicated to prairie restoration, science and technology. He owns three farms that are living laboratories dedicated to the pursuit of best practices for land stewardship and conservation. His efforts at Roeslein Farms are intended to demonstrate how native prairie, America’s original landscape, can deliver sustainable incomes for landowners while guaranteeing the sustainability of the environment. He is the founder of both Roeslein & Associates and Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE). Mr. Roeslein was named 2016 Missouri Conservationist of the Year.

David Wolfe
David Wolfe (B.S. and M.E. Agricultural Engineering, University of Florida and M.S. Ecology, University of Georgia) is Director, Conservation Strategy with Environmental Defense Fund.  Mr. Wolfe began his conservation career as a field ecologist with The Nature Conservancy in 1992.  In 2000 he began working as a scientist with EDF to implement incentive-based programs for conservation of endangered species on private lands.  This work involved the development and implementation of safe harbor and Farm Bill conservation programs to benefit endangered species, including the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo and ocelot.   Mr. Wolfe is currently taking a leadership role in development of the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange. He drafted a proposal to the Smithfield Foundation that led to the funding of the 1,000-acre Missouri prairie restoration project, which is a collaboration amongst Smithfield Foods, RAE, Missouri Prairie Foundation and several other partners.