Northwest Board of Directors
Bob Backman of Ogema
Bob thinks most of the problems humans face are intertwined and connected. He believes we spend too much energy on fixing symptoms instead of the root problems. He has worked in the nonprofit arena most of his working career with positions in communication, health promotion, PR, marketing and most recently as Executive Director of a river advocacy group. Along with his wife they also owned and operated an urban feed store specializing in bird feeding. Through well designed education and hands on experiences he feels we can help our youth to grow up and not make the same mistakes of the current generation. When in Moorhead he volunteers for a community garden, River Keepers and a homeless shelter. Half of his time he spends in the woods of Becker County where he has just added a ground source heat pump system to his cabin. He is a licensed Coast Guard Master (captain) and has a BA in Sociology from Moorhead State University Minnesota and a MS in Education from Indiana University.
Sheila Capistran of Ada
With Ada Tomato, she is growning 50+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes, along with a goodly number of other plants. Growing to order for various groups-such as our local Amish enclave; NDSU field-trials; a nearby reservation's tribal garden; area truck-farmers. Selling to many area greenhouses and vendors (including Laughing Earth in Ada-where she is also the 'plant manager'), along with friends and neighbors that stop by. She grows the tomato plants, selects for desired traits, saves the seed, and repeats! Sheila also works with the Lake Agassiz Regional Library system; is a Norman County Extension Committee Member (also a 4-H alumni and parent), and is glad to share her values of sustainability and resourcefulness as a new member on th B.O.D. of the NW RSDP; she heads up a scholarship foundation with the NWMF in her late daughter's honor; does a fair bit of flower-arranging, wild-food foraging, and artwork; continues her quest for learning; gives tours and speaks on homestead arts...and thrives on putting people together.
Anna Carlson of Bemidji
Anna works as both the Assistant Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University and the NW Regional Coordinator for the Clean Energy Resource Teams. Anna has her M.S. degree in Environmental Policy and Planning from Bemidji State and her PhD in Sustainable Energy Planning from Aalborg University in Denmark. Originally born and raised in Bemidji, Anna is excited to be a member of the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and share her passion for and experience in renewable energy development to help create a resilient and sustainable NW region.
Gail Larson of Newfolden
Gail Larson is a Public Health Nurse working as the Director of North Valley Public Health in Marshall County since 2005. She attended a three year nursing school in Grand Forks, ND following high school and worked in hospitals in Massachusetts and Minnesota for a few years. She graduated from the Bemidji State University RN to BSN program in 2000. Gail has 25 years of experience working in a variety of public and home health programs. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Gail's work in Public Health is the opportunity to work with the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) in the Quin Community Health Service area. Gail's association with Extension began as a member of 4H and later as a leader in the local 4H program. Gail and her husband, Don, live on a small cattle ranch north of Newfolden, MN.
Colleen MacRae of Crookston
Colleen MacRae is a community organizer and facilitator. She enjoys working with coalitions on optimum health and well-being opportunities for children, families and individuals and believes positive outcomes are achieved by working together and embracing the unique attributes each community holds. She actively promotes a proactive rural narrative and serves as a member of the Governance Board and the Resilient Communities Workgroup. She enjoys community theatre and lives in Crookston with her husband and daughter.
Kent Olson of Shoreview (St. Paul campus)
Kent Olson is the Associate Dean of the Extension Center for Community Vitality at the University of Minnesota. The Center makes a difference by engaging Minnesotans to strengthen the social, civic, economic and technological capacity of their communities through programs, initiatives and applied research related to its three program areas: Leadership and Civic Engagement (LCE); Community Economics (CE), and Tourism. As a professor of Applied Economics at the University, he was involved in applied research, on-campus teaching, and extension education in farm management. His research emphasized farm level management issues such as production efficiency, the impact of government policies, decision-making, and the interaction between farming and the environment.
Katy Smith of Crookston
Associate Professor Katy Smith has taught biology and environmental science courses at the University of Minnesota Crookston since 2008, all the while mentoring undergraduate students in research projects that address environmental science and sustainability. Presently, her undergraduate team is working on evaluating land management practices for urban and agricultural land uses which can maintain quality/yields while reducing the impact on the environment. In addition, her team is also focused on methods to mitigate environmental damage caused by previous land management practices. Katy earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Dakota and completed a Ph.D. in Environmental Soil Science from Purdue University, IN. Her Ph.D. work focused on utilizing plants to clean contaminated environments.
James Snyder of Crookston
Carsten Thomas of Moorhead
Michael Triplett of Ada/White Earth
Michael Triplett has 37 years of community and economic development experience working for tribal governments, municipalities, regional development organizations in the Southwest and Upper Midwest. Currently, he is an economic development planner with the White Earth Nation based in White Earth, Minnesota and most recently has been guiding the tribal efforts in renewable energy ventures - in wind, solar, biomass. He was one of the original members of the NW (MN) Clean Energy Resource Team. He has a B.S. from Colorado State University in Social Sciences and completed graduate coursework from Iowa State University in Urban and Regional Planning.