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.
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.
Ethan Marburger- Rugby, ND
My name is Ethan Marburger. I am the Farm Bill Specialist for Pierce and McHenry Counties. I started working for the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts on August 10th, 2020.
Before moving to North Dakota, I was raised along the Mississippi River in the hill country of northeastern Iowa. Living in Iowa I was fortunate to attend the best school in the Missouri Valley Conference, the University of Northern Iowa. There I studied Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Diversity. It was at UNI where I was able to participate in a summer research project that evaluated the success of the Conservation Reserve Program’s CP42 Pollinator Habitat, helping me to prepare for this position as Farm Bill Specialist.
As a nature enthusiast, I have a love for the great outdoors. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, canoeing, wildlife watching, biking, hunting, and fishing. While I’m here, it’s my goal to visit all the state parks and see the beauty that North Dakota has to offer.
Aleesha Boelter- Mandan, ND
My name is Aleesha Boelter. I am the Farm Bill Specialist located in Hettinger, ND. I was hired in May 2020 and I serve Adams, Bowman, Hettinger, and Slope counties.
I am originally from the Minnesota/Wisconsin area; however, I grew up all over and continued to travel after high school. I graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Arizona State University – Lake Havasu.
Living in Arizona provided me opportunities to work with animals and learning how to work with the environment to create a better living space for them. I worked under one of my professors researching burrowing owls by monitoring their populations and behaviors. I also was able to do a summer internship at Keepers of the Wild, a sanctuary that provided homes to animals such as lions, tigers, bears, wolves, monkeys, and camels.
When I am not working, I am with my two amazing Belgian Malinois, Ammo, and Gauge. I am excited about the opportunity to work alongside landowners and producers using conservation practices to improve North Dakota’s natural resources.
Hailey Neubauer- Bottineau, ND
My name is Hailey Neubauer. I am the Farm Bill Specialist located in Bottineau, ND. I serve Bottineau and Rolette counties. I was hired by the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts in May 2020.
I grew up on the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. After graduating high school, I headed off to North Dakota State University where I studied Natural Resources Management and Biology, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2017. During my time at NDSU, I participated in research regarding flood mitigation in Fargo. During the summer of 2017, I spent time at the Flathead Biological Station researching the effects of spring melt in the Nyak Floodplain utilizing Drones and GIS.
My interest in conservation started at home. I grew up around the mining and power generation industries. I got a front-row seat to what went on in the industry since I had two parents who worked in iron-ore mining and power generation. I learned at an early age that conservation was at the very core of their operations and was required in order to continue providing goods and services to our communities.
I began my conservation career at the Ward Soil Conservation District, where I put conservation on the ground by replacing and installing shelterbelts and educating the public on the benefits of trees in North Dakota. In 2018 I met my husband and moved onto the family grain farm in Bottineau. For the last year, I have had the privilege of being the Grounds Manager for the International Peace Garden. I am excited to be back in the Soil Conservation District community and look forward to working with producers to help them meet their conservation goals.
When not at work, I enjoy keeping myself busy. I love having all the seasons, so usually, you will find me out and about helping on the farm when needed, spoiling our three dogs, and enjoying outdoor sports.
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.
Melissa Ostrowski- Lakota, ND
My name is Melissa Ostrowski, and I am the Farm Bill Specialist located in Lakota, ND. I serve Nelson, Ramsey, Benson, Walsh, and Grand Forks counties. I started the Farm Bill Specialist position for the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts in June 2020.
I am from Holt, Michigan. That is where I learned to love and appreciate wildlife and agriculture through my active involvement in 4-H where I raised rabbits and the time I spent with my family hunting, fishing, and camping. In May 2018, I graduated from Northern Michigan University with my Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Management. Immediately after, I attended the University of Pittsburgh where I graduated this past April with my Master of Public Administration in Energy and Environment with a concentration in Disaster Management. I chose this focus because I am passionate about the integration of science, policy, and public service and I found that a majority of natural and anthropogenic disasters can be mitigated through conservation practices.
Over the past six years, I have researched and participated in a wide variety of topics while living in multiple states. I interned at a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island in Washington for a summer, where I came to understand the habitats for native North American wildlife and assisted landowners in creating spaces that would support these species. I researched and learned about Towhee hybridization, windbreaks, food security, and the Emergency Conservation Program while studying for my degrees.
I also spent a summer in Washington D.C. working for Defenders of Wildlife as a Conservation Policy Intern where I created a report containing the number of threatened and endangered species that occupy National Wildlife Refuges across the U.S., which was then given to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use. I am excited by the opportunity to learn more about North Dakota’s natural resources and conservation practices, and to help producers and landowners make effective decisions about managing their land.
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.