Meet the Board

2022 Iowa Farmers Union Board of Directors

Aaron Heley Lehman, President

Aaron is a fifth-generation family farmer from rural Polk County, where he and his family raise corn, soybeans, oats, and hay in both organic and conventional rotations. Aaron was elected to serve as the IFU president in 2016 and had served as the IFU vice president immediately prior to his election. He also has served as the executive director and legislative director for IFU and on the National Farmers Union Policy Committee. Aaron’s father Phil is a past IFU vice president and board member, and Aaron was active in Farmers Union youth programs growing up. Aaron is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and Treasurer of the North Polk School Foundation. He is a graduate of North Polk High School in Alleman, Iowa and earned a bachelor’s degree in physcis from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Aaron has previously served on the North Polk School District Board of Directors, the Iowa Citizen Action Network Board of Directors, and various school and church communities. He is a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Iowa chapter of the National Farmers Organization. Aaron and his wife Nicole have two children, Jordan and Benjamin. [email protected], (515) 291-2656

Julia McGuire, Vice President

Julia McGuire is in her second term as Vice-President. She grew up on an acreage in unincorporated Des Moines, graduated from Dowling Catholic High School, and holds an engineering degree from Iowa State University. She is a specialty honey producer and program coordinator for a state-wide non-profit organization focused on responsible land use. The author of a Phenology Planner for Beekeepers and creator of BeeLaws.org, she is known for being very active in and responsive to her local beekeeping community. Her previous involvement in the Iowa Farmers Union includes participating in state Lobby Days, serving on the Education/Outreach and Convention Committees, and representing southwest Iowa on the Board of Directors. Her past involvement with the National Farmers Union includes attending Fly-In, sitting on the Credentials, Elections, and Rules Committee, as well as serving on the 2022 Policy Committee.
Seeing her four children “leave the nest” and make good decisions independently has caused Julia to see more value in IFU’s grassroots work through education, legislation and cooperation to provide Iowans with sustainable production, safe food, a clean environment, and healthy communities.

[email protected], 515-988-1828

Don Wiviott, Treasurer

Don got his start in agriculture running an Ag products manufacturing company. Over the last 5 years he has been finding investors for organic grain production and partners for monetizing carbon sequestration.  Don lives near Des Moines and has presented to international agricultural investment conferences.

[email protected]

 

Haleigh Summers, Assistant Treasurer

Haleigh is a graduate student studying conservation practice adoption in Iowa. Her B.S. was in Agronomy and Seed Science, and her Master’s was in Agronomy studying non-chemical ways to control herbicide-resistant weeds. Her current research focuses on geospatial modeling of conservation practices across the state of Iowa to make water quality improvement effective and efficient.

 

Emily Miller, Secretary

Emily Miller is the Policy and Research Manager for Family Farm Action Alliance. She previously worked at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Missouri Science and Technology Policy Initiative, and the Iowa House of Representatives. She holds a M.S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, and a B.S. from Iowa State University where she double majored in Animal Science and Agriculture & Society. [email protected]

Mike Carberry, Southeast District

Mike CarberryMike Carberry of Iowa City was elected to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors in 2014.

Mike was raised in Newhall, Iowa, in a large, fifth generation Iowa family. His family moved to Johnson County in 1976, and Mike graduated from Iowa City Regina High School, then earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa in 1983.
He held several positions in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability, including as the Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Energy Association; Midwestern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth; Senior Regional Field Director with the Iowa Global Warming Campaign; Campaign Manager for Citizens for Public Power; and Director of Green State Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in advocacy, outreach and campaign organizing around environmental issues. Mike also worked as the Benefit Director at Iowa City’s Englert Theatre.

Mike’s volunteer efforts also reflect his interest in the environment. He has served many roles with the Sierra Club, including Chairperson for the Iowa City Area Group, and member of the State of Iowa Chapter Executive Committee. He was awarded the 2013 Environmental Activist of the Year award from the State Chapter of the Sierra Club. Mike currently serves on the boards of the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Iowa Wind Energy Association and 1000 Friends of Iowa
.

[email protected]

John Gilbert, Northeast District

J. GilbertJohn and his wife, Beverly, farm with one of their sons, and one of his brothers and their wives in north central Iowa’s Hardin County.  They are the county’s last dairy, and have been selling their pigs to Niman Ranch since 1998.  John has been a long time Iowa Farmers Union member, and is in his second term as a board member.  His late parents, William and Mary, were also members for most of their lives.  John and Beverly have two sons and one daughter, and two grandchildren.

[email protected]

 
Ryan Marquardt, Southwest District

Ryan Marquardt is a fifth-generation Madison County Farmer. He owns and operates Wild Rose Pastures, LLC with his wife and high school sweetheart Janice and their two children. They have raised and direct marketed grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and turkeys and free-range eggs for over a decade in Central Iowa.  In addition to the serving on the Iowa Farmers Union Board, Ryan also serves on the Iowa Food Cooperative Board, Madison County Development Foundation Board, and the Practical Farmers of Iowa Savings Incentive Program Selection Committee. In the past, Ryan has run for the Iowa House, and served as president of the Iowa Network for Community Agriculture, church council president, and township trustee. Ryan graduated from Iowa State University with MA in Sustainable Agriculture, a BS in Community and Regional Planning, and a certificate in Public Administration. Ryan is an ardent supporter of open markets and transparency for farms of all sizes, streamlining regulation for small and medium producers, and opposing monopolies in the agricultural supply chain.

[email protected]

Mike Henning, Northeast District

Mike was an Engineer for Caterpillar Tractor and then Waterloo John Deere Tractor Factory and Product engineering Center for over 35 years.  Those positions kept him in contact with the needs of farmers and new technology as it developed.  Mike also still helps on the family farm in Greene county in the spring and fall.  

Mike retired from Deere a decade ago and now does a lot of volunteer work related to Conservation and Education.  Mike serves as an assistant Conservation Commissioner in Black Hawk County and coordinates several of their education programs.  He also volunteers several days a week in the Waterloo School System (before Covid19 restrictions).

Barbara and Mike are lifetime members of the Practical Farmers of Iowa and are active members of the Iowa Environmental Council, ICCI, Food and Water Watch, and other organizations where they work to reduce the impact of pollution of all types on Iowa’s Air, Land, and Water.  That includes supporting Clean solar/ wind energy and working to reduce climate change.

Barbara and Mike have installed several Conservation practices on farmland land we own in Buena Vista county and on farmland we own in Buchanan county.  Prairie strips, pollinator habitat, grassed waterways, general CRP, and buffers are some of the practices installed. 

They enjoy family activities, summer baseball, tractor ride events, and a little travel, especially on trains.

 

Beth Hoffman, Southeast District

Beth Hoffman has been reporting on food and agriculture for more than twenty-five years, and moved to Iowa with her husband to work on his family’s 530 acre farm in 2019. She blogged for Forbes and studied the food system in depth as a student, fellow and co-lecturer at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism. She has completed several documentary projects including a year cooking with immigrant women in their homes and telling their stories. She was an Associate Professor in Media Studies at the University of San Francisco and wrote the book Bet the Farm: The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America about the economics of farming, told through the story of moving to the farm. You can reach her at [email protected]

Suzan Erem, Southeast District

Suzan Erem is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust, launched in January 2015 to permanently protect land to grow healthy food. Suzan graduated from the University of Iowa in the mid-1980s with degrees in Journalism and English, cutting her political teeth on the Farm Crisis of the 1980s. The stories of family farmers getting thrown and harassed off their land by lenders stayed with her all of her life.

Suzan grows Asian pears, Japanese walnuts, chestnuts and honey-berries on her land in rural Cedar County. 

 

 

 

Joshua Manske, Northwest District
Chris Petersen, Northeast District
Jerry Rosman, Southwest District
Ron Tigner, Northwest District
Andrew Dunn, Student Representative

Andrew Dunn is a 7th generation Iowan from Iowa City, where he studies political science at the University of Iowa. Andrew has been a long-time advocate for regenerative agricultural and environmental practices that emphasize restorative community justice. Andrew has a dream of one day operating a regenerative permaculture orchard growing native fruits, nuts, and timber. In the past, he has served as the Executive Director of the gun violence prevention group March For Our Lives Iowa 501(c)(3), lead the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council, and worked for the American Civil Liberties Union. He currently works in the Iowa Senate as a legislative aide.

Tommy Hexter, Beginning Farmer

Tommy grew up on a 2-acre vegetable and egg farm in Central Virginia. When he moved to Iowa to study at Grinnell College in 2017, he was immediately drawn in by the scale of agriculture and the size of community in the Midwest.

After founding a student-run residential farm called Farm House at Grinnell College, Tommy began studying local food systems as an anthropology major. As he completed his junior and senior year ethnographic projects on Regional Food Hubs within Iowa, he became a member of several Iowa farming organizations, including Iowa Farmers’ Union, Iowa Organics Assocation, Practical Farmers of Iowa, and Poweshiek CARES.

Tommy now operates a beginning vegetable farm in Grinnell, serves as a Poweshiek Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner, and is co-owner of a local food retail store, Grinnell FarmToTable. His day job is being an outdoor recreation leader for Grinnell College, and his largest interests in agriculture are how farmers can make reasonable profits for their professional and environmentally-sound work. He hopes to help expand regional markets and innovate new state and federal funded conservation efforts.

 

Iowa Farmers Union Staff

Deborah Bunka, Membership & Fundraising Director

Debo42104345_10212513322815121_1038531304150269952_nrah comes to Iowa via Canada where she worked for various non-profits including serving as Executive Director of the Tamarack Foundation for learning disabled children in Saskatchewan, and editing an arts newspaper in Hamilton, Ontario. Relocating to Ames in 1996 with her family, she wrote a monthly column on food history and availability of seasonal local foods for the Ames Tribune, while also writing a regular food column for the regional ‘Facets’ magazine.  For five years, Deborah ran a farmers market in Ames, opening Iowa’s first year-round, indoor market and launching a CSA. Coinciding with her life-long interest in social, political and economic justice,  she travelled Iowa for several months, talking with people about clean water issues and volunteered for two years with Iowa CCI as a citizen-lobbyist. These experiences have made Deborah a good fit for her work with Iowa Farmers Union.

dbunka@iowafarmersunion.org

Christina Dexter, Communications, Education and Outreach Director
Tommy Hexter, Rural Organizer and Educator

Tommy moved to Iowa after growing up on a 2-acre vegetable and egg farm in the mountains of Central Virginia. Since then, he has started his own semi-urban vegetable garden in Grinnell, become a commissioner of the Poweshiek County Soil and Water Conservation District, and owns an Iowa food market called Grinnell FarmToTable that sources products from 15-20 local farmers. Tommy understands the issues farmers face around conservation, markets, insurance, and more, and is passionate about farmers being leaders in political change. After being a member of the Iowa Farmers Union Board of Directors for 6 months, he is now the Union’s Rural Organizer and Educator. He loves to explore the small towns and backroads of Iowa with his 18-month old German Shepherd named Echo, and he goes gravel bike-riding in his free time. 

thexter@iowafarmersunion.org

Iowa Farmers Union
PO Box 1883 Ames, IA 50010-1883
info@iowafarmersunion.org