Staff & Board Members
2021 Board of Directors & Staff
I farm and ranch in Delta Junction along with my wife Julia and son Justin and family. We are a beef cattle ranch raising and supplying finished beef from Fairbanks to Homer alaska. We also raise a large portion of the feed needed for our cattle, including Barley, oats, peas, brome, and Timothy hay.
I was raised on a large farm and ranch in Illinois and have been infatuated with livestock since I can remember. My wife and I managed and owned a livestock auction market for several years before we became involved in the custom feed yard business in western Nebraska for many years.
So I suppose you can say I have always been involved in the service of farmers and ranchers. It has become important to me to help shape and grow agriculture here in Alaska.
I believe there is so much potential for growth in the industry here, and as well believe there is no better opportunity for new or beginning farmers and ranchers in the nation.
Amy Seitz, 907-252-5064, 37075 Nicholas View Lane
Director of Events and Chapter Development
Dani Markham – Delta Junction
Paul Knopp, Fairbanks Chapter
Jerry Marlow, Fairbanks Chapter
Fritz Wozniak, Fairbanks Chapter
Barb Dahl, Kenai Peninsula Chapter
My husband and I have a Peony Farm in Nikiski on Island Lake Road. I’ve always loved growing flowers, so why not have a flower farm? “Food for the body is not enough, there must be food for the soul.” I couldn’t agree more with Dorothy Day, for me, this soul food comes in the form of flowers.
I got involved with the Alaska Farm Bureau because of the leadership of its executive director. I also think it is important to know where your food and flowers come from. I think community sustainability that comes from supporting local farms leads to living in a healthier environment.
Rita Jo Shoultz, Secretary/Treasurer, South Kenai Peninsula Chapter
After retiring from Commercial Real Estate Development, Rita Jo spent the summer in her own gardens and when she couldn’t find Alaska Hardy perennials, she decided to start her own Retail Greenhouse business, Fritz Creek Gardens, home of over 500 varieties of trees, shrubs, vines, roses and Alaska Hardy perennials. But when Dr. Pat Holloway, Professor at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, asked her to start a peony farm after discovering peonies are harvestable in Alaska when not available for the commercial trade, anywhere else in the world, she started a small peony farm. When her son Shannon indicated an interest in farming peonies, everything changed. Together they set about establishing a much larger farm. Eventually, she sold the Retail Greenhouse business to concentrate on the peony farm. Her blogs on starting and maintaining a peony farm are read throughout the world and her willingness to share has contributed to the now 200 peony farms in Alaska.
Because everyone deserves to enjoy flowers, Rita Jo established gardens throughout Homer but especially on Pioneer Avenue. Now Homer is ‘The City of Peonies’ and every year there is a two week peony celebration in Homer with participation from the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Homer and peony lovers, drawing participants from all over Alaska.
Beth Van Sandt, South Kenai Peninsula Chapter
A long time Alaskan that works, plays and enjoys living on the Kenai Peninsula. Located on the scenic East Hill side of Homer, overlooking beautiful Kachemak Bay, we grow 14 different cultivars of peonies and a variety of other flowers for the cut flower market.
Scenic Place Peonies established in 2010 has been growing premium peonies for over 11 years.
I have lived in Homer for over 50 years, enjoying a variety of careers and experiences. As a child I gardened alongside my father. I have grown to love the smell of freshly turned soil in my hands and have a deep passion and talent for growing. It is thrilling to be able to experience the joy of developing our farm into a place that’s not only “work” but “play”. I love sharing my enthusiasm with my grandchildren, whom like to be in the field sniffing flowers; fragrance control.
Having a long history of volunteering in my community as well as my state made it a natural fit to be on the Alaska Farm Bureau Board of Directors. I represent our South Kenai Peninsula Chapter as a vested member as well as their secretary. I’m excited to be a part of this organization and the important work that it does as well as the growing floriculture industry in Alaska.
Kelli Foreman, vice-president, Kodiak Chapter
Kodiak Baptist Mission’s Heritage Farm & Ranch is located in Kodiak, Alaska and operate a Grade A Certified Goat Dairy. Additionally we have sheep, cattle, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, horses and the island’s only mule. We are a teaching farm with preschool, after school and summer day camps right here on site.
I am a fifth generation farmer and I believe farming is just in my bones. I love knowing where my food comes from and helping to feed others. I also believe farming is the best tool to help grow responsible adults with the highest of character.
I am excited to be a member of the Alaska Farm Bureau and serve on the board of directors. We are a voice for Alaska farmers to our state, governing officials and local communities. Alaska agriculture is a vital part to our state’s success and the Alaska Farm Bureau is championing farmers to produce more and our residents to consume more Alaska Grown. If I can help in this movement in any way I want to be there.
Paula Williams, Mat-Su Chapter
My family and I live fulltime on our remote homestead, accessible only by small plane in the summer, in the Susitna Valley at the North base of Mt. Susitna. Until the change in fish runs/regulations that shut down our industry, we ran a traditional hunting and fishing (mostly fly fishing) lodge. While my husband Mike and I have limited farming background, we did not want to leave our home of 16 years, so in 2010 we turned to agriculture and created EagleSong Family Peony Farm. We walked in a bulldozer 47 miles, helicoptered in a tractor and planted 5,000 peony roots that first year. We have 12,000+ mature peony plants now, and host an average of 10 workers through the summer. We have pack house facilities at Anchorage International Airport for processing our harvest.
I feel Farm Bureau connections are so important! In a state like Alaska, where our farmers can be both physically and climatically far apart, the more we reach out to share, the more opportunities we have to be successful in our endeavors. As a strong advocate of agricultural opportunities in Bush Alaska and veterans in farming, I view being on the board a way to advocate these ideas.