Speaking for the Living Soil
Meet the Soil Health Spokespersons for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service
Ray Archuleta is a Conservation Agronomist at the NRCS East National Technology Center, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ray teaches soil health and the principles of agroecology throughout the country. He has 25 years of experience with the Natural Resources Conservation Service working in New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon, and now in North Carolina and has held the following positions: Soil Conservation technician, Soil Conservationist, Nutrient/Irrigation Specialist, Water Quality Project Manager, District Conservationist, and Area Agronomist. He is also a Certified Professional Soil Scientist with Soil Science Society of America. Ray worked for two years in Guatemala as a Livestock Specialist in the Peace Corps. His infectious enthusiasm for soil health has earned him the moniker, Ray the Soils Guy. He has a B.S. in Agricultural Biology.
Barry Fisher, a 32-year veteran of NRCS and a native Indianan, is the State Soil Health Specialist for NRCS in that State. He provides agronomic training and assistance to NRCS field staff and represents NRCS in the Conservation Cropping System Initiative (CCSI) and the Midwest Cover Crop Council (MCCC). He strives to advance the technology of successfully integrating no-till, cover crops, crop rotations, adaptive nutrient management and precision farming for higher soil health and function. Barry has served as a District Conservationist, Conservation Agronomist for West-Central Indiana,Conservation Tillage Coordinator for NRCS in Indiana and most recently as State Agronomist. He and his wife Michael own and operate a small “never-till” grain and grazed livestock farm in West- Central Indiana. He has a BS degree in Agronomy.
Rudy Garcia, the State Agronomist for New Mexico, has been with NRCS for 23-years. In addition to training NRCS employees on soil health plans and implementation, Rudy’s main focus in the past 5 years has been in hosting more than 60 Soil Health workshops for farmers and ranchers throughout New Mexico. These sessions have been attended by both large- and small-scale agricultural producers and are slowly creating a soil health movement in this arid southwestern environment that adds irrigation to the usual set of challenges facing those who choose to improve their land’s soil health. The training sessions are held on the producers’ farms and often include research specialists from New Mexico State University and/or other conservation organizations. Rudy says it has been his privilege to work the majority of his career as a field agronomist, helping hundreds of producers with agronomy and soil health questions so that they are ultimately able to achieve healthy, and consequently, productive soils.
David Lamm, a 36-year veteran of NRCS, is team leader for NRCS’s National Soil Health and Sustainability Team, who work to advance the principles of building soil health among NRCS field staff and farmers across the country. As a District Conservationist in Fort Wayne, Ind., David learned the basics of no-till farming and spent 18 years perfecting, on a grass roots basis, his understanding of what it takes to make no-till work. Armed with this practical knowledge, David worked as the Assistant State Conservationist in Georgia where he broadened his understanding of no-till to include cotton and peanut farming enterprises and incorporated cover crops and irrigation water management systems as key components in successful no-till systems.
Eileen Miller, the Soil Health Specialist for NRCS New Jersey, started with the Agency 20 years ago as an Earth Team Volunteer at the recommendation of her Soils Professor. As a volunteer, Eileen assisted our Soil Scientists in the field work necessary for the Soil Survey Update of three Southern New Jersey Counties. It was then she learned a lot and developed an in depth understanding of Soil Science. This foundation has served her well throughout her career as a Soil Conservationist and Resource Conservationist in several field offices located in the northern, central and southern regions of NJ.
As a Soil Health Specialist, Eileen has spent the last four years working with Field Office Staff, Farmers, Plant Material Centers, Soil Conservation Districts, Cooperative Extension Services, Universities, School Teachers, Students, Urban Gardeners, and Community Gardeners and others to help them further their understanding of what it means for a soil to truly function.
Eileen has been a presenter and organizer of many workshops, field days, and twilight meetings where she shares with others her commitment and passion for the health of our soils. Eileen has created the “NJ Soil Health Assessment Guide…A locally adapted field tool for NJ Communities” in cooperation with the Ocean County Soil Conservation District. She holds a BS in Environmental Studies from Stockton College of NJ and is a graduate of the NJ Agricultural Leadership Development Program. Proud to be a part of the Soil Health Campaign, Eileen enjoys working with others to promote awareness of soil as a critical and essential natural resource.
Doug Peterson has been an NRCS employee for over 25 years. He started his career as a Soil Scientist. He has been a District Conservationist in both a grassland based county in south Missouri and a large cropland county in north Missouri. Currently he is the State Soil Health Conservationist teaching staff and producers around the state about soil health, how it impacts virtually all natural resource processes, and what type of management it will take to effectively improve our soils’ health.
He attended college at Missouri Western State University graduating in 1986 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture. His majors were Economics and Agronomy.
Doug grew up on a crop and livestock farm near Newtown in north Missouri. Today he operates a cow/calf and contract grazing operation with his father, Steve. Currently they run about 500 cows. They utilize Management-intensive Grazing and Holistic High Density Grazing to improve soil health.
He has been married to his wife Diane for 20 years and they have three children.
Phone: 660-663-3703 Ext. 7
Kate Norvell, the Area Agronomist for NRCS in Bozeman, Mont., has been with the Agency for three years, and she brings significant professional and academic credentials as well as huge enthusiasm to the Soil Health team. Kate has been involved in numerous soil health training sessions and cover crop trials, where she has been both a presenter and a voracious imbiber of soil health knowledge. Kate reports that there is great “buzz” around the growing concept of soil health in Montana among not only NRCS employees, but employees of other agencies, as well as Montana farmers and ranchers. A Colorado native, Norvell has a BS in chemistry and agronomy and wrote her thesis for her MS on Runoff and Erosion in No-Till Dryland Agroecosystems. Kate is also a Certified Professional Soil Scientist and Certified Professional Agronomist.
Jon Stika, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, holds the position of Area Resource Soil Scientist in western North Dakota. Jon was on the team that developed the “Soil Quality: Assessment and Applications for Field Staff” course for NRCS employees in 1998 and has been an instructor for the course ever since. Jon is also a past advisor and webmaster for both the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmer’s Association and the Southwest North Dakota Soil Health Demonstration Project. Jon worked on Integrated Pest Management programs and mapped soils in Illinois and North Dakota before joining NRCS 28 years ago. Jon has worked for NRCS as a soil conservationist, District Conservationist, and Area Agronomist in numerous North Dakota counties before assuming his current position. He has degrees in chemistry, soil science, and Geographic Information Science. Should you tire of talking soil health, Jon is happy to chat about fishing, gardening or brewing beer.
Phone: 701-225-5113, ext. 107