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2016 Speakers

Thanks to more than three decades of innovation and on-the-ground beta-testing we have an amazing toolbox of regenerative, profitable and potentially scalable solutions to a wide variety of twenty-first century challenges, including drought and food scarcity. However, most of these solutions have not reached their potential despite their many benefits. Quivira's 15th conference, will tackle the urgent question: How can we transform our world by getting regenerative solutions implemented widely and quickly? What are the obstacles? The opportunities? What are we doing wrong? Right? Speakers will offer their answers from diverse perspectives, including agriculture, conservation, policy, science, and advocacy, emphasizing leaders a difference and real-world projects that are scaling up to effective levels.

Click on the speakers' name to read their full bio.

Temple Grandin, PhD


The most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world is The New York Times bestselling author of Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism, Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human, among others. An innovator and animal scientist, her remarkable life story, with all its challenges and successes, was made into an HBO feature film starring Claire Danes.

Wednesday night fundraiser for Quivira Coalition

Lesli Allison

Lesli Allison


Executive Director of the Western Landowner's Alliance (WLA). Santa Fe, New Mexico

Working at scale across the American West will require not only policy reform but continued and expanded engagement in the `radical center' - the place where diverse people come together to focus on their common interests in pragmatic, on-the-ground ways. The WLA is a leader in the radical center efforts across the region, especially in progressive land management and ecological restoration projects. Lesli will share her experience in this endeavor and offer thoughts about scaling up the radical center.

Allison Conference Audio

Gary Burnett

Gary Burnett


Executive Director, Blackfoot Challenge. Blackfoot Watershed, Western Montana

One of the original collaborative conservation organizations, the Blackfoot Challenge, has worked successfully at scale for more than twenty years, overcoming a wide variety of obstacles, which Gary will describe. Today, they are attempting to leverage their work in new ways as the world changes, including innovative ideas for enterprises, expanded ecological restoration, and impacts on larger landscapes. The Challenge continues to be a leader in community-based conservation and we can learn much from their experience.

Burnett Conference Audio

Nikki Cooley

Nikki Cooley


Senior Program Coordinator, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP).
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

While the policy picture on climate change continues to unfold, on-the-ground effects are happening right now, including bouts of drought and intense flooding. Working at scale means implementing tools that help rural residents adapt to these changing conditions. Nikki has been working on the front lines of climate adaptation with tribes across the Southwest and has helped to develop an effective and innovative program of training, planning, and implementation.

Cooley Conference Audio
Nikki Cooley Conference You Tube

Monique DiGiorgio

Monique DiGiorgio


Executive Director, Chama Peak Land Alliance. Durango, Colorado

Wednesday Toolbox
She will speak on watershed resiliency efforts on private lands in the San Juan - Chama region of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico that are focused on forest treatments such as thinning and prescribed burning. These efforts are part of the Rio Grande Water Fund, a payment for ecosystem services program connecting resiliency treatments with downstream water users.

DiGiorgio Conference Audio

Melanie Gisler

Melanie Gisler


Program Director for the Institute for Applied Ecology, Southwest Program. Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Wednesday Toolbox
Several new initiatives underway by IAE include: a regional native plant materials project to increase the availability and diversity of native seed for large scale restoration projects. She will share examples of similar projects from Oregon that will be adapted to New Mexico's unique environment and landscapes. The collaborative roles of multiple local conservation agencies and organizations are stressed as these relationships are important to the story of success.

Gisler Conference Audio

Art Goodtimes

Art Goodtimes


District 3 Commissioner, San Miguel County, Colorado

Wednesday Toolbox
After years of discussion, preliminary programs, and inspiration from Quivira and Courtney White, San Miguel County has initiated a Soil Health Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Project to measure soil productivity, water retention and carbon sequestration on various crop and pasture lands in southwestern Colorado. The project will track its test plots over time when amended with compost or when other soil improvement techniques are used. The intent is to determine what, if any, beneficial impacts from various improvement methods occur, and quantify how much water is stored and carbon locked up in improved soils in our high plateau bioregion.

Goodtimes Conference Audio

Jim Howell


CEO of Grasslands LLC, the land management arm of the Savory Institute.
Bozeman, Montana

We know how to graze livestock profitably and ecologically, but how do we scale up these practices in order to positively impact more acres? One missing piece is finance and capital, which have traditionally been used to exploit natural resources, not regenerate them. The model pioneered by Jim and Grasslands LLC has the potential to change this equation significantly, but as Jim will explain the `real world' of scaling up has created another set of unexpected challenges.

Howell Conference Audio

Wes Jackson

Wes Jackson


Co-founder and president of The Land Institute. Salina, Kansas

Wes has spent forty years working to scale up regenerative agriculture both by his leadership at The Land Institute, which has pioneered research into the production of perennial crops, and in his writing and public speaking which often focus on the challenges and opportunities we face today. His vision is big and his experience deep, both of which he'll share at our conference.

Jackson Conference Audio

Elena Kayak

Elena Kayak


District Conservation, Energy & Environmental Educator,
Rio Rancho Public Schools,
Curriculum & Instruction Department
Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Kayak Conference Audio

Jonathan Lundgren, PhD

Jonathan Lundgren, PhD


Entomologist, agroecologist, CEO of Blue Dasher Farm and Director of Ecdysis Foundation. South Dakota

Science is key to conserving healthy biological communities within agroecosystems, especially at scale. While the toolbox of regenerative farm and ranch practices has been well-established in recent years, the science is still catching up. Jonathan has been a leader in researching the nexus between ecology and regenerative agricultural and now has taken his knowledge to a research farm where he is encouraging other researchers to apply their knowledge in service to the larger picture.


Jonathan Lundgren 2017 Quivira Conference You Tube

Lucy Meyring

Lucy Meyring


Rancher. Colorado

Wednesday Toolbox
She will address Succession and Estate thoughts on passing agricultural lands from one generation to the next. Research shows there are twice as many farmers and ranchers over the age of 65 as there are under the age of 35, and that 69% of ranchers and farmers want to pass the operation on to their children.

Meyering Conference Audio
Meyering Conference You Tube

Sharon and Pat O'Toole

Sharon and Pat O'Toole


Ranchers, Ladder Ranch. Wyoming

Half of the American West is publicly owned, so any attempt to scale up regenerative and collaborative practices will have to include public lands. However, this national trust is in trouble, beset by a variety of challenges - as headlines have made clear. Pat and Sharon have deep experience with the challenges of ranching on a mix of private and public land and will share with us their thoughts about the future and potential remedies and reforms in light of current conditions.

OToole Conference Audio

Miguel Santistevan & Ian McSweeney

Miguel Santistevan & Ian McSweeney


Miguel - Farmer and Educator - Taos Soil and Water Conservation District and AIRE. Taos, New Mexico

Ian - Director of the Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation. New Boston, New Hampshire

Wednesday Toolbox
Miguel - Inter-generational knowledge transfer in Acequia agriculture: obstacles & opportunities
Ian -Land Transfer Is Inevitable--Are We Ready: Land Tenure and Funding Options

This talk is in collaboration with Agrarian Trust, OUR LAND 2 - SYMPOSIUM 2016

Santistevan and McSweeney Conference Audio

Judith D. Schwartz


Author and Journalist. Vermont

One of the most overlooked and yet critical pieces of the scaling-up puzzle is effective storytelling. As a means to impart complex information to diverse audiences, good stories resonate with people far more profoundly than scientific papers, big data, or the dry recitations of facts. Storytelling comes in many forms today, particularly as the technological means to reach ever wider audiences proliferates, but the elements of good communication are essentially the same, as Judith will explain from her experience.

Schwartz Conference Audio

Lindsey Lusher Shute

Lindsey Lusher Shute


Executive Director National Young Farmers Coalition.
Clermont, NY

What are the challenges and opportunities facing young farmers and ranchers as they consider scaling up? Are there new tools in the toolbox that they are using and could share? Are there new policies they would like to see enacted or reforms implemented? Lindsey has worked on the forefront of these questions for years and has a great deal of real-world experience she can share, particularly around the difficult and critical issue of land access and ownership for young agrarians.

Lindsey Shute Conference You Tube

Chris Sramek

Chris Sramek


Sramek Family Farm. Northwest Kansas

The High Plains Food Cooperative is in the vanguard of a new model of food cooperative based largely on the Internet and online buyers. This model has redefined "local" to include a much larger regional area, which has substantially impacted remote farms and ranches in very positive ways. Chris' family farm has directly experienced the benefits of the cooperative and he will explain the potential of the HPFC model for farms, ranches, and consumers in other regions.

Sramek Conference Audio
Sramek Conference You Tube

Robert Strahan, PhD

Robert Strahan, PhD


Monitoring Program Manager, The New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute. Las Vegas, New Mexico

Wednesday Toolbox
He will discuss how research and monitoring are informing the use of restoration practices to achieve ecosystem resilience in fire adapted forests of the southwest.

Strahan Conference Audio

Mollie Walton, PhD

Mollie Walton, PhD


Land and Water Director, Quivira Coalition. Santa Fe, NM

Wednesday Toolbox
Tools for assessing the amount of bare ground in different ecosystems that will be highlighted will be available information accessible on the internet and representative monitoring techniques for quantifying bare ground. Understanding the metrics for acceptable amounts of bare ground will help land managers target goals for keeping or increasing healthy vegetation cover.

Walton Conference Audio

Lucy Waruingi

Lucy Waruingi


Executive Director of the African Conservation Centre. Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa

Rural Kenya faces many challenges that are familiar to us in North America, including proliferating subdivisions, degraded land, eroding economic opportunities, persistent drought, and political dysfunction - but with elephants and lions! The ACC is a world leader in tackling these challenges on behalf of wildlife and pastoralists alike and Lucy will take us on a journey through this remarkable effort in a remarkable land, and show us what scaling-up means on a different continent.

Waruingi Conference Audio

Kate Zeigler, PhD

Kate Zeigler, PhD


Geologist, Zeigler Geologic Consulting, LLC.

Wednesday Toolbox
When we consider management plans, our eyes are always focused on the surface of our planet, but one of the most important resources, groundwater, is beneath our feet and out of view. Kate will present the fundamentals of basic data sets that can be used to understand groundwater resources. She will then show a case study from Union County, New Mexico to illustrate how these data sets were used by producers on the ground to alter crop and range management practices.

Zeigler Conference Audio

Women in Ranching

Wednesday Toolbox
Wendy Millet and Elaine Patarini will co-moderate a panel; Breanna Owens, Martha Skelley, Mimi Sidwell, and Julia Davis Stafford working in different regions. The conversation will focus on the particular challenges women face in the ranching profession. How do gender dynamics play out in a ranch setting (the good, the bad, and the ugly)? What structural, cultural, family, and ranch management dynamics exist that present both challenges and opportunities for women in ranching? And finally, what critical questions should women and men be asking to ensure that gender dynamics don't exacerbate existing issues in regenerative agriculture?

Women In Ranching Conference Audio