Our Speakers

Stacy Bruinsma, Stacey Bruinsma is a 6 year member of the management team at G. Phillips and Sons. GPS is the ACRC contractor for the midwest and Stacey is the state representative for Michigan. GPS is known for it's process called Vertical Sustainability which transforms industry recyclable waste into reusable products. Stacey is a Michigan native and is a graduate of Spring Arbor University. She lives in Austintown Ohio with her husband Kevin and newborn son Cole.

Brian Buehler, NRCS Public Affairs Specialist.  Brian has served as public affair specialist for NRCS in Michigan since 2005. His responsibilities include promoting NRCS conservation services to producers and the value of on-the-farm conservation to the general public. In 2016, the role of Earth Team coordinator was added to his public affairs position. Prior to coming to the USDA, Buehler worked as a newspaper reporter, Peace Corps Volunteer and as a high school and middle school science teacher. He grew up in a small town in northwest Iowa and earned a BA in biology from the University of Northern Iowa and a BS in journalism from the University of Iowa. Buehler, his wife Heather and their two boys live in Okemos.

Connie M. Deford, Professional Registered Parliamentarian. Connie is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian and has served as the President of the National Association of Parliamentarians as well as the President of the Michigan State Association of Parliamentarians.  Connie retired as City Clerk of the City of Bay City, MI. She was voted Michigan’s City Clerk of the Year. In 1999, she received the prestigious Quill Award from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.  Serving clients throughout the United States, Connie continues to teach parliamentary procedure at various institutes and in local jurisdictions.

Abigail Eaton, MDARD Environmental Resource Specialist. Abigail has worked for more than 21 years with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).  Performing in various roles throughout this time, she currently manages several programs including Pesticide Clean Sweep, Pesticide Container Recycling, Water Use Reporting, and Aquifer Conflict Resolution.  She also coordinates MDARD participation in Great Lakes efforts including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Compact.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Resource Development and a Master of Science degree in Forestry both from Michigan State University.

Eric Eckl, Founder, Water Words That Work, LLC. Eric has more than 15 years experience planning and carrying out issue advocacy, fundraising, and behavior change campaigns. And currently oversees all of Water Words That Works client projects.  Eric is currently working closely with MACD and partners on the Farmer-Led Conservation grant in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

Steve Law, MACD Consultant. Steve retired from NRCS in 2014 after having provided assistance to Districts across Michigan for 31 years.  Starting out in 1983 as a Soil Conservationist in Bay County and moving on to Hillsdale, Missaukee, Ingham and then Clinton County where he served as the District Conservationist for 12 years.  As Resource Conservation and Development Coordinator in Grand Rapids, Steve assisted 10 Counties in central and west Michigan to plan and implement resource conservation and community development projects.  With details as Acting Area Conservationist in Grand Rapids, Flint and Marquette Steve finished his career as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Coordinator in the Michigan NRCS State Office where he was responsible for the obligation of 20 million dollars in financial assistance annually.

Steve is a huge supporter of Conservation Districts and the work they do across the State. He has assisted many Districts both individually and in groups to plan and implement improvements in operations that when implemented have resulted in substantial increases in local financial and political support for the Districts and their activities.  

Mike Parker, Conservation Partners Program Specialist MDNR. (pending confirmation) Mike Parker serves as the DNR Wildlife Division’s Conservation Partners Program Specialist where he oversees the division’s private lands programs, including serving as the DNR liaison on state and national Farm Bill programs.  Mike has over 19 years experience assisting private landowners in Michigan enhance their lands for wildlife, with an emphasis on grassland and wetland restorations.  The DNR’s private lands program provides technical and financial assistance to restore habitat for a variety of game and non-game species.  Prior to joining the Wildlife Division in 2011, Mike spent 14 years as a Regional Wildlife Biologist for Pheasants Forever.  Mike is a graduate of Michigan State University, an avid outdoorsman and lives in Okemos with his wife, three daughters, and two bird dogs.

Georgia Peterson, Natural Resources Specialist, MSU Extension. For the past 18 years, Georgia's primary focus has included outreach and education related to natural resource leadership and literacy. This includes providing information, training and assistance to natural resource-based organizations on public input processes, conflict management and strategic planning activities. Over the years, she has worked with a wide range of natural resource interests, including snowmobilers, pack and saddle riders, ORV riders, loggers, conservationists, and various natural resource-based citizen advisory committees. She received her Bachelors and M.S. degrees in forestry from Purdue University, and her Ph.D. in social sciences and forestry from Michigan State University.

Kristine Ranger, owner of Learning Connections.  Kristine launched her business in 1994 to pursue her passion for teaching and helping others succeed. She is gifted as an educator, coach, and facilitator with 25+ years of experience transforming people, teams and organizations across the Midwest. She is an early adopter of innovative instructional techniques and supports her consulting assignments with relevant academia and industry experience.  Her methodology of deliberate practice impacts the entire workforce and improves performance at all levels. In other words, shift happens!  Kristine is a dynamic presenter and "self-contained innovation team".  She utilizes her marketing mindset to create participant-centered curriculum and engaging content, as well as helping her clients identify their competitive advantage.

Carol Schadd, District Conservationist, NRCS.  Carol is the NRCS District Conservationist in the Caro Field Office in Tuscola County. She started her NRCS career in the Bad Axe Field Office over fifteen years ago as a Soil Conservation Technician and then a Soil Conservationist, and has been a District Conservationist since 2011. The main programs she has worked with are EQIP, CSP, CRP and WRP/WRE, and she has served on the MI NRCS Plant Materials Committee. She has degrees from Michigan State University and Eastern Kentucky University in Fisheries and Wildlife and Biological Sciences/Ecology. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and photography.

Rob Selesky, Project Administrator, MDEQ Nonpoint Source Program.  As part of Michigan’s Nonpoint Source Program Rob assists local, state, and federal partners to protect Michigan’s water resources from impacts of nonpoint source pollution.  Rob currently administers several grant projects in both rural and urban settings developing and implementing plans to restore impaired waters and protect high quality waters.

Steve Shine, Wetland Mitigation Bank Administrator at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  Steve is currently working on the development and implementation of a wetland mitigation bank. The wetland mitigation bank will make credits available to farmers and local government to address wetland compliance issues under federal and state law.  Prior to his current position, Steve was a program manager within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Jennifer Silveri, Director of Field Operations, Michigan Food and Farming Systems. Jen has been working in water quality, encouraging responsible land management for conservation of natural resources, since 2007.  In her current position with MIFFS, Jen works to connect beginning and historically underserved farmers to each other and resource opportunities.  

Trooper William Smith, Community Service Trooper, Michigan State Police. Community Service Trooper William Smith was awarded the Director’s Community Impact Award in 2016. Smith was selected to receive this award for his continued dedication and commitment to community engagement in the City of Saginaw. Michigan State Police (MSP) Community Service Troopers (CSTs) are assigned to regions across the state to focus on community outreach to help strengthen communities. They serve citizens in a range of ways, including mentoring youth, working with seniors, and educating citizens on emerging crime trends. CSTs also work with other police agencies to help strengthen law enforcement.

Andrea Stay, Grants and MAEAP Training Liaison at Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  Andrea works as the grant project manager for the MAEAP program with an emphasis on activities in the Western Lake Erie Basin and coordinates the MAEAP technician training program. Previously, Andrea spent 13 years working at Eaton and Ingham Conservation Districts.

Sally Van Lieu, Resource Conservationist and Conservation Planning Discipline specialist, NRCS. Sally has worked for the USDA NRCS for 34 years.  She started as a Student Trainee with the former Soil Conservation Service at the Allegan field office in 1983 and became Soil Conservationist at the Mt. Pleasant field office in 1985.  Sally served as a Soil Conservationist in the Mt. Pleasant, Monroe, Jackson and Adrian field offices before becoming a District Conservationist in 1991 in Howell, serving there for 17 years.  While serving as a DC, she became a Conservation Planner Mentor for the SE Michigan field offices for the conservation planner certification process in 1996 and became a certified planner in 1997.  In 2008, Sally became the Resource Conservationist on the Ecological Sciences staff at the NRCS East Lansing State Office. Her focus is on proper resource concern identification, developing conservation plans to treat the resource concerns. Sally also serves as the NRCS-Michigan Technical Service Provider Coordinator assisting private technical providers through a certification process and completes technical reviews of conservation plans.

Bill Watson, Youth Development Director, SEEDS.  Bill has worked with youth since 2001. His passion for his work with young people has helped him spearhead creative partnerships that provide benefits on many levels - for youth, local business, a region's natural environment, and the larger community. He is also an experienced anger management and domestic violence group facilitator. In his former lives, Bill was a chef, an itinerant scuba diver and spearfisherman, a carpenter, and a guy who walked into the woods for days with only a pack and sleeping mat on his back. Now his camping experiences involve being a sherpa for his wife and boys.

Bobby Whitescarver, Owner, Whitescarver Natural Resources Management, LLC. Farmer, conservationist, educator, and award-winning writer, Bobby retired from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in 2011 with 31 years of field experience.  He continues his life’s work of restoring watersheds through his private consulting business.  Bobby is an Agronomist, certified Nutrient Management Planner (VA), certified Prescribed Burn Manager (VA), and certified Resource Management Planner (VA).

Conference Information

Date: June 5 - 6, 2017

Location: Bay City, DoubleTree by Hilton

Shining Star Awards

Agenda at a Glance

Our Sponsors and Exhibitors

Monday Session Descriptions

Tuesday Session Descriptions

Summer Conference Home Page





Mike ParkerConservation irmation