Board of Directors & Staff
PA Farm Link
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 goals to keep Pennsylvania Farm Link moving forward, financially sustainable and mission oriented.
Board members backgrounds and expertise complement each other and intertwine to create a Board that will move Pennsylvania Farm Link solidly to the forefront of organizations which truly make a difference in the Pennsylvania Agriculture industry.
Get In Touch Today
If you would like to get involved in our mission of creating opportunities for the next generation of Pennsylvania farmers, and to protect agricultural land, get in touch with us today!
2021 - 2022 Board Members
President: 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.
Vice President: Sarah Sparks
Executive Director, Pennsylvania FFA Foundation
Sarah Sparks is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania FFA Foundation. She has worked in agriculture education for over 16 years, 8 of those as an agriculture educator/FFA Advisor for Kennard Dale High School. She has been with the FFA Foundation for 8 years. Sarah is the mother of 4 children and lives on a 15 acre farm in Thomasville, PA raising meat goats, angus cattle and laying hens.
Secretary: Kegan Hilaire
Small & Diversified Farm Consultant, Organic Consulting, Rodale Institute
Kegan was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley, before moving to Philadelphia to complete his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Temple University. After joining a CSA in the city, he was hooked on the production of fresh, local, seasonal food. It has led him from Sales manager of a 5th-generation dairy farm, to managing a diversified, organic farm, to the Rodale Institute Farmer Training Program, and finally to the Rodale Institute Consulting team as the Small Farms and Diversified Vegetable Consultant. Kegan also owns and operates a small organic farm in Emmaus, PA.
Treasurer: Chris Torres
Editor, American Agriculturist
Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.
He is based in Lebanon County. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.
MBA Student & Co-Founder of Urban Farming Initiative
Lyndsey is a full-time MBA student at Northeastern University, with a concentration in Sustainability. She is co-founder of Urban Farming Initiative in Cincinnati, OH. She previously worked at Rodale Institute, as the Veteran Farmer Training Coordinator. Lyndsey, is a graduate of the Delaware Valley University Organic Farming Certificate Program and the Veteran Farmer Training Program. Lyndsey also served as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force for five years. She holds a B.S. in Health Sciences and a Certificate in Organic Farming.
Project Manager of Pasa Sustainable Agriculture's Foodshed Mapping Project
Tabitha is working with state and regional partners to aggregate resource data across all areas of the agriculture continuum as Project Manager of Pasa Sustainable Agriculture’s Foodshed Mapping Project. Prior to joining Pasa in the fall of 2020, she worked for 5 years as a project and program manager in the field of community and economic development. Tabitha grew up on a 130 acre beef cattle farm, has worked as a farm market manager, and has local food council volunteer experience.
Western Staff Coordinator & Region 4 Coordinator, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
Joseph M. Diamond started his Farm Bureau career with Maryland Farm Bureau in 1991. He served as a field services representative and young farmer committee coordinator for nearly 4 years.
He then came to Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and has been a Regional Organization Director for 28 years. In his role as Regional Organization Director, he assists the county farm bureau leaders in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Huntingdon, Indiana and Somerset Counties developing and carrying out a Farm Bureau program that will help members to maintain a strong, effective organization, which will meet their needs and to promote the philosophy, policies and basic concepts of the County, State and National Organizations.
Diamond grew up on a dairy farm in Fayette County and has a BS in Agribusiness from Delaware Valley College. He serves on Board of Directors for the Blair County Chamber of Commerce. He is a chairman of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Farm City Committee. He is a member of both Bedford and Somerset County Chambers of Commerce Ag Committees. He also serves of the AgrAbilty Advisory Committee, ABCD Corp. Ag Committee, Johnstown Local Foods, Local Places Planning Committee, South Central Mountain Regional Task Force – Ag Working Group, the Tyrone FFA Advisory Committee, the Salisbury-Elk Lick FFA Advisory Committee and a graduate of the Blair County Chamber’s “Leadership Blair County” Adult program.
Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
Jodi Gauker has joined Penn State Extension as a Business Development Extension Educator based in Chester County. Prior to joining Extension, she was the Agriculture Project Director for Chester Count Economic Development Council where she coordinated the AgConnect Industry Partnership, connecting farmers and agribusiness owners with the training, resources, and financing they need to successfully grow their business, and providing opportunities for youth to explore careers in agriculture.
In addition to her education at Penn State and Texas A&M Universities and work experience, Jodi brings practical knowledge to her position – she and her husband, Lee, are the 9th generation to continue Gauker Farms in Fleetwood. Berks County. On the weekends, you may find her at a local farmers’ market or teaching 10th generation, Callie, all about life on the farm. Jodi is the Chairwoman of the Berks County Planning Commission, a director of Berks Agricultural Resource Network, PA Farm Link, and PA Beef Council; and a member of Berks Southeast Cattlemen’s Association and Penn State Stockmen’s Club.
The Seed Farm
Katy Hunter is the Program Administrator for The Seed Farm, which hosts a Farm Business Incubator on its 42-acre site in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. She has a degree in Art and worked in art galleries and museums before transitioning into a career in floristry.
Before joining The Seed Farm in 2022, Katy co-ran a 2-acre, no-till vegetable and flower CSA in eastern Pennsylvania for six years.
The Seed Farm is a program of Second Harvest Food Bank and Community Action Lehigh Valley.
PA State Grange
Jodi Keith Kensinger and her husband Ben, along with their 1-year-old son, Riggs, live on his family’s 4th generation dairy farm in Martinsburg, in the heart of Blair county with their 2 cats, Muffy and Casper.
For the last 14 years, she has been a full-time employee with Geisinger Health System as a staff Radiology tech, working in their mammography department at the Grays Woods office. Jodi is also a pampered chef consultant and loves to capture memories with her camera.
In her free time, she is heavily involved with the Grange, serving as PA State Grange Chaplin, Huntingdon Co. Pomona Grange President, and Lincoln Grange Secretary. She is very active in her local church, serving on the consistory board and planning committee. Jodi has many hobbies that keep her occupied as well- which includes spending time with her family and friends; listening to and reading new books; visiting and exploring new places when time allows and scrapbooking.
Dr. Kyle Kopko
Executive Director, Center for Rural PA
Dr. Kyle C. Kopko is the executive director of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. He joined the Center in July 2020. Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Kopko served as Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, and Planning, and Associate Professor of Political Science at Elizabethtown College. Dr. Kopko holds a law degree from the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law, a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from The Ohio State University, and a B.A. in political science from Elizabethtown College. Dr. Kopko has authored or co-authored more than 50 publications, including two university press books. His research has received national and international media attention in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Fox News Channel.
Esquire, Stock & Leader Attorneys at Law
Jody serves as the chair of the Real Estate Practice Group and the Agricultural Industry Group, and also practices in the Estates Group. She counsels clients in both the Stewartstown and York offices on farm succession planning, business development, farmland leases, and ag preservation. Growing up near her grandparents’ fruit and cattle farms in southern York County, Jody understands the needs and challenges facing the agriculture community today.
Jody is very active in the community serving on numerous boards and committees. Most recently, Jody was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for Steam Into History. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Pennsylvania Farm Link, Southern Branch YMCA, and on the grants committee with the York County Bar Foundation.
The Central Penn Business Journal has recognized Jody as one of the regions 30 “Women of Influence” and Central Pennsylvania’s “40 Under 40 Business People.”
Knowledge Center Director, Horizon Farm Credit
Raechel Sattazahn is the knowledge center director with Horizon Farm Credit where she leads the Association’s customer education efforts, programs for young, beginning and small farmers and government relations. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Animal Sciences and a minor in Agribusiness Management. Raechel also holds a MBA in Food and Agribusiness from Delaware Valley University. Raechel and her husband, Doug, live in Womelsdorf, PA on Doug’s family farm, Zahncroft Dairy LLC which milks about 250 cows. Raechel is also part of her family’s farm operation, McCalls Ferry Farm LLC, in Airville, PA that direct markets beef to consumers.
Project Assistant, AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians
Abbie Spackman is the project assistant for AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians and provides worksite evaluations and recommendations to farmers and agricultural workers who have disabilities or long-term health conditions. She has a degree in Agricultural and Extension Education from Penn State and began working with AgrAbility in 2015. Abbie has a strong background in agriculture. She grew up on a sheep and certified organic vegetable farm in central Pennsylvania and spent time working on a conventional beef and grain operation in Nebraska. Along with working for AgrAbility she also works on her family farm growing a variety of crops, herbs, and flowers and operating The Heirloom Farmer. She is also carrying on the family tradition of growing heirloom pie pumpkins and making maple syrup.
Agricultural Relationship Manager, Ephrata National Bank
Kelsey is an Agricultural Relationship Manager at Ephrata National Bank where she works with farmers and Agribusinesses predominately in Lancaster County to provide specialized financial services to help the customer manage their finances, invest in their operations, and grow their businesses. She graduated from Delaware Valley University with a B.S. in Agribusiness. In 2021 she completed the Leadership Lancaster program. Kelsey was born and raised in Lancaster County. Currently her and her fiancé, Gregg, are in the beginning stages of transitioning onto the family farm. They raise Texas Longhorns and Maine-Anjou cattle in addition to hay farming.
Executive Director of Pennsylvania Veteran Farming Project
Pennsylvania Veteran Farming Network is the statewide network for veterans, military, and their spouses who farm and operate agribusinesses. A horsewoman and Marine Corps spouse, Mimi holds bachelors and masters degrees from East Carolina University in education. In addition to her work in the classroom, she managed Family Readiness programs for military bases in California, and was the Conservation Education Coordinator for the Westmoreland Conservation District.
Working with the nine member PAVFP Board of Directors, Mimi is responsible for education and outreach to beginning and established veteran farmers for resource referral; event planning for the annual statewide Conference, workshops, and farm tours; and grant management.