Board & Partners

We are thankful to our Board of Directors for their dedication in “creating opportunities for the next generation.” The group has a wide range of backgrounds and interests, with one common goal to move Pennsylvania Farm Link forward in the work it does in assisting new/beginning farmers and landowners in “creating opportunities for the next generation” while striving to continue the great farming industry in Pennsylvania.

Board members backgrounds and expertise compliment each other and intertwine to make a Board that will move Pennsylvania Farm Link solidly to the forefront of organizations which truly make a difference in the Pennsylvania Agriculture industry.

Board members include:

President:  Jeff Grove, Director Local Affairs, PA Farm Bureau

***Mr. Grove is the Local Government Affairs Director for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB). He began his career with PFB in 1990 as a Regional Organization Director for Northeastern Pennsylvania. As Director of Local Government Affairs, Mr. Grove is Farm Bureau’s Wildlife Specialist and Agricultural Labor Specialist. He directs Farm Bureau’s Farm Security Program, Economic Development Program, Labor Committee, Safety Advisory Committee, and Advi­sory Council Program. He also is Farm Bureau’s research analyst handling policies in ag educa­tion, farm safety, farm labor, farm security, local tax reform, gas and oil development, wildlife issues, rural health and many other issue areas for Farm Bureau members. Mr. Grove is a member of the Ag Subcommittee of the South Central Pennsylvania Counterterrorism Task Force.

Vice-President: Raechel Sattazahn, Marketing Specialist, AgChoice Farm CreditRaechel Sattazahn is the knowledge center director with AgChoice Farm Credit, which serves rural and agricultural customers across central, western and northern Pennsylvania. In her role, Raechel is responsible for the Association’s customer education efforts and programs for young or beginning and small farmers.   Raechel and her husband, Doug, own and operate Zahncroft Dairy, LLC with Doug’s brother and sister-in-law in Womelsdorf, Pa. The dairy consists of 120 registered Brown Swiss and Holstein cows. Raechel is also part of her family’s farm operation, McCalls Ferry Farm, LLC, in Airville, Pa. that sells retail beef.  Raechel graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Animal Sciences and a minor in Agribusiness Management. She also holds a MBA in Food and Agribusiness from Delaware Valley College.

Secretary: Patty Neiner, Project Assistant PA Women’s Agricultural Network

Patty Neiner is the Coordinator for The Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network which strives to empower women farmers through education, networking and support. In addition, she works with the Department for International Programs at Penn State and has presented at International Conferences. Ms. Neiner graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Horticulture. She and her partner run a farm in central PA where they raise hay, hogs and poultry. The meat is sold direct market at farmers’ markets. She has also worked for PA Certified Organic and The PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture. Prior to that, Ms. Neiner served in managerial positions within healthcare and restaurant food service. She has served on numerous boards and volunteers for various community causes. 

Treasurer: Jonathan Johnson, Sr. Policy Analyst, The Center for Rural PA

A senior policy analyst with 26 years of experience in analyzing and evaluating rural policies and programs for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Accomplishments include:

Developed and maintained the state’s first rural database on socio-economic and demographic factors;Organized workshops on rural community development issues (farmers’ market, tourism, economic development, etc.);Coordinated statewide policy forums on rural development issues; Prepared and presented testimony before House and Senate legislative committees; Evaluated statewide programs for impact on rural areas; and Initiated community visioning projects.

 The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  The Center works with executive agencies and federal, regional and community organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve the needs of Pennsylvania’s 3.4 million rural residents.

***Herbert Cole, Extension Advisory Council,  Penn State University

***Beth Futrick, PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program

Beth Futrick was hired in 2008 as one of the two PA Agricultural Ombudsman and is located at the Blair County Conservation District. Beth has a B.S. in Secondary Education (Biological Science and Environmental Education). She worked as a Chesapeake Bay Technician for the Blair and Centre Districts assisting farmers with the installation of their Best Management Practices, prior to becoming an Agricultural Ombudsman. The Blair County Ombudsman works closely with the counties in the North Central area and throughout Pennsylvania. Beth works with farmers, conservation districts, municipalities, to provide information on PA’s Right to Farm Act, agricultural regulations, and storm-water management. She also works with farmers, Penn State Extension, and others to develop ag-related workshops and educational material. Beth and her husband run a goat farm in Blair County.

***Tom Gettings, Representative The Seed Farm

Tom Gettings spent 27 years as a photographer / journalist with the publisher Rodale Inc., specializing in organic and regenerative agricultural subjects. Tom retired from Rodale Inc. in 1998 to spend all of his time with Wildlands Conservancy the leading land preservation organization in Eastern Pennsylvania. Tom retired from Wildlands Conservancy in 2012. Tom and his son currently operate Gettings Photography in Center Valley, PA. Tom has been a member of the Lehigh County Agricultural Land Preservation Board of Directors since 1993 and a charter board member of The Seed Farm since 2006.  Tom graduated from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and served as a photographer in the United States Marine Corps.

***Colleen Hershey, PennAg Industries

***Matt Kaplan, Inter-generational Programs, PSU Extension

Matt Kaplan is Professor of Intergenerational Programs and Aging in the Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education. In this position, he conducts research, develops curricular resources, and provides statewide leadership in the development and evaluation of intergenerational programs. At the core of his research and outreach initiatives is the Penn State Intergenerational Program (PSIP) which is rooted in Penn State Extension but inclusive of a broader base of scholars and practitioners interested in studying and employing intergenerational approaches in diverse settings. He has been engaged in research and new program development focused on ways to improve intergenerational communication within families. This includes work with families experiencing challenges around issues related to food selection and eating practices, farm succession planning, and grandparents and other relatives raising children.

His graduate training is in Environmental Psychology, an interdisciplinary field that examines the relationship between people and their physical environments (Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate Center, 1991). Dr. Kaplan is an affiliate member of the Penn State Center for Healthy Aging and core faculty member of the Comparative and International Education Dual-Title Graduate Degree Program at Penn State.

***Diane Matthews-Gehringer, farm representative Four Springs Farm

***Ross Pifer, Director, Ag. Law Resource and Reference Center

Ross H. Pifer is a Clinical Professor of Law, Director of the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law, and Director of the Rural Economic Development Clinic at Penn State Law. In the classroom, Professor Pifer teaches courses on Oil and Gas Law, Agricultural Law, Property, and the Law and Policy of Shale Gas Development. He has given numerous presentations throughout Pennsylvania, across the United States, and internationally on agricultural law and shale gas topics to audiences consisting of agricultural producers, landowners, attorneys, judges, governmental officials, academics, and the general public.

Professor Pifer received his B.S. in agricultural business management from Penn State University, his J.D. from The Dickinson School of Law, and his LL.M. in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. Prior to accepting his position with Penn State, he was an attorney-advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of General Counsel. He also has professional work experience as an associate attorney with a private law firm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and as a territory manager for the Nutrena Feeds Division of Cargill, Inc. Additionally, he served on active duty with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps in support of the NATO Regional Headquarters, Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) where he provided advice and representation to military personnel and commands in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, and Germany.

***Dave Poorbaugh, PA Farm Service Agency USDA

Dave works for the Farm Service Agency serving as the Chief for Farm Loan programs. Dave has a dairy and beef farm background. He has held various positions within FSA’s Farm Loan Programs over the past 30 years.  Farm Service Agency’s Farm Loan Programs is known as America’s Lender of First Opportunity.  Our Ag Loan Officers strive to make a difference in the rural communities that we are a part of.  The success of our farm clients is our success.

***Gary Smith, Chester County Economic Development Council

Gary W. Smith currently serves the Chester County Economic Development Council as President and CEO. He joined the Council in 1976 and pioneered award-winning programs of below market-rate financing, agricultural economic development, brownfields redevelopment, conduit funding for commercial construction, industry partnerships, urban revitalization and multi-agency collaboration. During his tenure, the Council has secured over $275 million in external funding for 420 plus projects ranging from regional economic revitalization to workforce development. The Council’s programs and services have helped to create over 175,000 new jobs; assisted in retaining more than 190,000 existing jobs; and brokered more than $13.5 billion in commercial financing loans. Over 8,000 new businesses have also been established during that period.

Throughout his forty-year career, Mr. Smith has held many titles on many national economic development boards and agricultural agencies such as President, Vice President, Founding Director and Legislative Chairman. In addition, he has been honored with many awards: the Chester County Boy Scout Distinguished Citizen, Harold Martin Business Leadership Award, the Crystal Ball Award and TMACC’s Chairman’s Award to name a few.  Mr. Smith holds a MA in Public Administration from West Chester University as well as his undergraduate degree from West Chester University.

In his spare time, Gary manages his family’s farm in West Bradford Township, raising a herd of 45 registered Hereford cattle. Gary and his wife Vicky, have two adult sons and is the proud grandfather of two beautiful grandsons.

***John Vogel, Editor American Agriculturist

John Vogel is Editor of American Agriculturist, a farm business publication/website serving Northeast agriculture from Maine to Maryland. He oversees editorial content, and covers ag technology, finance and policy issues for Penton Ag.

As Farm Link’s co-founder, John and others were instrumental in developing the forerunner of today’s Next Generation Farmer Loan Program. Farm-raised and with a B.S. from Iowa State University, he managed his family’s central Iowa farm until selling it in 2003.

John serves on Penn State’s Ag Council, Penn Veterinary School’s Board of Overseers and Christian Farmers Outreach’s board. He’s a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumnus and honorary national Alpha Zeta member.

PA Farm Link Staff:

Darlene Livingston, PA Farm Link Executive Director

Marlene M. Kaltenbach, Western PA Farm Link Associate

Michelle Kirk, Eastern PA Farm Link Associate