Farm Bill Specialists

          The North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts, Wildlife groups, and Agricultural entities have joined together in a one of a kind partnership to fund Farm Bill Spe­cialists located in USDA service centers across the state. Farm Bill Specialists are employed by the North Dakota As­sociation of Soil Conservation Districts (NDASCD) with funding coming from a diverse partnership of wildlife and agricultural groups. The responsibilities of a Farm Bill Specialist are to assist the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in providing voluntary conservation programs to producers across North Dakota.

 

          The partnership consists of the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts (NDASCD),  USDA-Natural Resources Conserva­tion Service (NRCS), Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Grain Growers, US Durum Growers, Northern Canola Growers and the North Dakota Soybean Council and the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

          Farm Bill Specialists are available to assist producers with technical assistance and conservation programs available through the federal farm bill, state, and local programs. With an array of programs and options available, specialists are a “one-stop-shop” for pro­ducers to receive help and guidance. A specialist can sit down with a producer to review options and help them meet their goals for their operation. Contact a Farm Bill Specialist of the NDASCD (701-223-8518) for more information.

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Cody Hoggarth- Farm Bill Specialist Supervisor

                  My name is Cody Hoggarth. I am the Farm Bill Specialist Supervisor for all of the NDASCD Farm Bill Specialists in North Dakota. Our positions work in NRCS field offices around the state. We assist local staff with voluntary producers in developing plans that promote conservation on the land. Farm Bill Specialists have knowledge in a variety of USDA Farm Bill programs. We assist landowners and producers interested in increasing conservation benefits on their lands. The Farm Bill Specialist Program is a very rewarding profession. We expand upon current skills, develop new ones, as well as provide opportunities to develop personal relationships with the people we help.

                  I am originally from Fargo but grew up and spent most of my childhood in the Jamestown area. I was very active in the outdoors growing up, whether that was fishing, helping on the grandparent’s farm during harvest, I just loved to be outside. I graduated from Jamestown High School in the spring of 2010. That summer, I moved to Valley City to attend Valley City State University, where I received my degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences in May of 2014.

                  In early 2015, I accepted a seasonal position working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based out of the Wetland Management District north of Valley City. The almost full year I spent there was very fulfilling. Most of what I did was vegetation mapping, but I learned a lot about diversity of plant species, management practices to use on rangelands, and how to use certain instruments beneficial to conservation careers. I will always be grateful to them for the valuable skills and information I gained while working for the USFWS.

                 After my term ended, I accepted a position with the NDASCD to become a Farm Bill Specialist. I have been in this position since November of 2015 and am very appreciative to have the opportunity to now lead and support our great Farm Bill Specialists around the state. Along with my supervisor duties, I offer my services to my producers and landowners in Stutsman, Barnes, LaMoure, and Dickey Counties.

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Thomas Marrs - Farm Bill Specialist

                My Name is Thomas Marrs and I am the new Farm Bill Specialist serving Bottineau and Rolette Counties. I am originally from Tucson, Arizona, and I currently live in Bottineau with my wife, our three kids, and five dogs. After serving nine years in the U.S. Army Infantry, I pursued a career in Stormwater/sediment and erosion control in northern California. Most of my work revolved around large scale construction projects as well as coastal shoreline and bank stabilization.

              

               Upon settling in Bottineau, I attended Dakota College at Bottineau under the Fish and wildlife technician Program AAS. After completing a two-year Herptile and small mammal population study in the Turtle mountains, I found myself focusing more and more into the scope of habitat and ecosystems.

I look forward to providing a fish and wildlife perspective to the agriculture community.

 

               In my off time I enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities including, snowshoeing, dog sledding, mountaineering, hunting trapping and fishing.  

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Luke Lundeby - Farm Bill Specialist

               My name is Luke Lundeby. I am the Farm Bill Specialist located in Cavalier ND. I was hired by the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts in February 2022, and cover Pembina, Cavalier, and Towner Counties.

             

              I grew up in Osnabrock, ND, only 30 miles where I currently work, on the family farm. After graduating high school, I headed off to the University of Minnesota, Crookston. I studied Agricultural Systems Management, with an emphasis in Precision Agriculture, and a minor in Agricultural Business and graduated in December of 2015. Before working for the NDASCD, I worked at CHS in Milton, ND as a YieldPoint Specialist, where I created variable rate fertilizer maps based off satellite imagery and soil test recommendations to help manage where fertilizer was put down.

              

              Conservation has been with me for a long time, from being on the family farm where we continue to be reducing tillage and timing out and putting on the correct amount of fertilizer for our crops, and to CHS, where I was able to help manage where the fertilizer went on fields, and in most cases, help reduce the amount of fertilizer that was put down. In my spare time, I like to either spend it out on the family farm, out on my motorcycle in the summer, or spending time with my dog Case. I look forward to helping the producers of my Counties as the Farm Bill Specialist.

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Rebecca Watkins - Farm Bill Specialist

               Hello everyone, my name is Becky Watkins. I am the Farm Bill Specialist located in Rugby, ND covering Pierce and McHenry counties.

               I am from LaMoure, ND where I grew up enjoying the outdoors hunting, fishing, and camping. After high school graduation, I attended Bemidji State University and received a Business Management B.S. I shortly realized that I wasn’t completely satisfied and had an itch to move west so I went to a community college in Powell, WY where I explored the Bighorn Mountains, Yellowstone NP, and Grand Teton NP exclusively and earned a Natural Resource A.S. In Powell, I was able to take opportunities in wildlife, ecology, and botany experiences within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I always had passion for the outdoors, but here is where I dove in headfirst, and my mentors pushed me to further my education; so, I attended South Dakota State University to receive a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, taking any wildlife opportunity that arose. After graduation, I moved to Medford, OR to work on a wildlife study with the threatened Northern Spotted Owl; subsequently moving to northern Minnesota to work on a spruce grouse study. During this time, I was offered a job with Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in Bismarck, ND. I enjoyed my time with APHIS but couldn’t pass on the opportunity with the Soil Conservation District to get my hands dirty again and put conservation on the land.

 

            I started this position in December 2021. I look forward to building relationships with producers and assisting them in implementing conservation practices to reap the benefits and ultimately reach a healthier ecosystem. My goal is to find a balance between the producer’s profit and a healthy, diverse ecosystem to keep the prairie alive.

 

            In my spare time, I am often exploring the world around me with my golden retriever. A few of my favorite hobbies are bow-hunting, photography, swimming, camping, and reading.

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James Winther- Forman, ND

            My name is James Winther. I am the Farm Bill Specialist serving Sargent, Ransom, and Richland counties based out of Forman, ND. I was hired by the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts in May 2020.

             I grew up in East Grand Forks, MN. I graduated high school from East Grand Forks Senior High in the spring of 2016, then moved to Bozeman, MT for college. I attended Montana State University from the fall of 2016 to the spring of 2019 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. I spent most of my free time in Montana fishing, hiking, and learning about the land. It was there that I learned how much I love water and would do anything I can to help protect and conserve it.

              I worked in a few plant nursery jobs while in high school and college, then in the summer of 2018 I worked with the Stutsman County Soil Water Conservation District planting trees for producers and landowners. Making connections with these producers and landowners was very rewarding and I am grateful I will be able to continue to do so as a Farm Bill Specialist. While my career in Natural Resources is still young, I am looking forward to expanding it and learning new skills with the NDASCD as the Farm Bill Specialist.

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Kristine Wilkens- Garrison, ND

           My name is Kristine Wilkens. I am the Farm Bill Specialist serving McLean, Oliver, and Sheridan counties. I am stationed at the Garrison Field Office as of July 2020. I’ve planted trees with the NRCS here in Garrison for the previous two seasons and I am excited to further my conservation career in this Farm Bill Specialist position.

          I grew up on a small grain farm near Boissevain, Manitoba, only 20 miles north of the International Peace Gardens, near White Water Lake and the Turtle Mountains. I was always intrigued when my dad, grandpa, and uncles had discussions about water conservation. I believe it was those conversations that sparked my interest in the field of natural resources. I received my bachelor’s degree in Geography from Brandon University in 2011, with hopes of continuing my education to acquire a teaching degree, but that fell through.

         In 2014, I earned my diploma as a Land & Water Management Environmental Technician from Assiniboine Community College. Working as the Resource Technician with the Turtle Mountain Conservation District in Deloraine, Manitoba from 2014 through 2017, I was able to assist landowners and producers with various projects; well water testing, surface water storage, streambank stabilization, grassed waterways, RTK surveying, GIS mapping and implementation of BMP’s. I also worked on landowner wildlife agreements with Manitoba Habitat Heritage, Nature Conservancy of Canada, and Ducks Unlimited.

          I met my husband, Brandon, at the North Dakota State Fair in 2010. We got married in 2015 and I have been a North Dakota resident since 2018. I have since increased my love for the outdoors, growing my own garden, fishing on Lake Sakakawea, bow hunting whitetail deer, calling coyotes with my husband, and raising our husky shepherd pup, Tikka.

Jordan Rabon- Hettinger, ND

       My name is Jordan Rabon and I am the Farm Bill Specialist serving Adams, Hettinger, Slope, and Bowman Counties. I was hired in June and am stationed in Hettinger, ND.

       I grew up near Long Island Sound in Connecticut and received a bachelor's degree in Natural Resources and the Environment from the University of Connecticut in 2012. After graduating, I worked as a seasonal technician on several research projects investigating the ecology of upland gamebirds. My career as a technician brought me to many, beautiful landscapes in Kansas, Missouri, Maine, and Oklahoma, to work with the country's most ionic gamebird species like prairie-chickens, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, and wild turkey.

       My Experience with gamebirds landed me a master's degree position with the University of Idaho where I researched greater Sage-grouse. After receiving my Master's. I wanted to be in a position where I could aid conservation efforts for the gamebirds I came to love, and a Farm Bill Specialist is a great way to get started on my new career goal. I am excited to be a Farm Bill Specialist in North Dakota and help landowners improve their farming and ranching operations through the farm bill programs while benefitting wildlife at the same time.

       When not working, I am either hunting, fishing, hiking, or viewing wildlife. I am looking forward to exploring North Dakota's wide-open country and discovering the state's great places to hunt and fish.

       

Blake Sogge- Napoleon, ND

       My name is Blake Sogge. I am the Farm Bill Specialist for McIntosh, Logan, and Emmons Counties. I started in this position with the NDASCD May 24, 2021.

       I have lived in South-Central North Dakota most of my life. At age 15, I started working for a crop consultant who also ran a family farm. It was here where I stared to grow a passion for agriculture, and more specifically, the agronomy side of it. After a few years working there, I started as a full-time crop consultant, which has prepared me for this Farm Bill Specialist position. 

       I have a love for everything outdoors and for conservation. My lifestyle revolves around hunting, fishing, and camping. When I am not working, you can find me in a spread of goose decoys with a camera or on a boat casting jigs with friends. My previous work experience showed me the importance of conservation on the landscape, and in this position, I hope to contribute to conservation and health of our land as much as I possibly can.