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2024 Fellows

Meet This Year's Fellows Class!

RMFU Fellows come from all background and all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common: A passion for agricultural prosperity and food security. Farmers, ranchers, cooperative leaders, local food and urban food advocates, and entrepreneurs join together to spend a year learning how to advocate for healthy food systems and vibrant communities.

Jonathan Cable

Master's Student of Agricultural Education, CSU Ag Science Graduate Fellow

Jonathan Cable is a Master’s student of Agricultural Education at Colorado State University and works as a College of Agricultural Sciences Graduate Fellow to strengthen stakeholder connections between higher education and rural Colorado. A passionate Aggie, Jonathan believes that the future of agriculture requires holistic investment into rural communities, the next generation, and tackling wicked issues through intentional conversations.

Read more about Jonathan!

Montana Caise

Rancher, Sol Ranch

Montana Caise grew up on a commodity grain farm in Illinois, where his passion for playing in the dirt began. In his early adult years Montana worked as a civil engineer and now is pursuing his dream of becoming rancher, farmer, and strong advocate for good soil health.  

Read more about Montana!

Matthew Encinias

Habitat Steward, Urban Forest Landscaping

Matthew Encinas is a habitat steward who works with an urban forest landscaping company. He helps maintain different growing systems for community and private use and leads compost initiatives to help with soil health. He prioritizes collaborating closely with the community to share techniques for water protection, land use, and plant care. 

Read more about Matthew!

Mariah Foley

Agriculture Manager, ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch

Mariah Foley has been measuring time in growing seasons for the past 12 years. She started out volunteering on urban farms and community gardens in Denver while working on institutional food procurement and earning her degree. Through this, she quickly realized she wanted to BE a farmer, not just KNOW her farmers.  

Read more about Mariah!

Randall Hidy

Beekeeper, Hidy Honey

Randall Hidy is a beekeeper, swarm-chaser, and educator born in Colorado. He tends to hives in several different locations across the front range, while trying to be an advocate for our pollinators along the way. His passion for bees started with a general love of nature and gardening.

Read more about Randall!

Melanie Kirby

Beekeeper, Zia Queenbees Farm and Field Institute

Melanie Kirby has been keeping bees professionally for 28 years. The bees have guided her around the globe exposing her to the broader concepts and implications of land stewardship, agroecology, food systems, and diverse world views on conservation and outreach.  She co-founded Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute in 2005, located on The High Road to Taos in the southern Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico. There she specializes in breeding regionally adaptive bees.  

Read more about Melanie!

Emily Kamala

Jill of all Trades at Pfaltzgraff Farms, Alternative Healer

Emily Kamala wears many hats at Pfaltzgraff Farms. She directs the family operation through marketing, outreach, and program development to support farmers ready to shift their production practices and step into soil health through diversification and building a living root.  

 Read more about Emily.

Emily Larson

Gleaning and Food Systems Coordinator, UpRoot Colorado

As a farmer’s daughter who spent her childhood working on a small, New England, family-run organic produce farm, Emily knows first-hand the importance of supporting local producersEmily recieved her bachelor’s degree in biology from Hamilton College and a MS in Environmental Science from CU Denver. After working for over a decade as an Environmental Scientist at various consulting companies, Emily is returning to her roots and pursuing her passion of increasing food equity within the community.

Read more about Emily!

Kelsey Kirkwood

Co-Director, UpRoot Colorado

Kelsey Kirkwood’s journey began with a leap westward to Colorado State University, where she immersed herself in Natural Resources, Recreation, & Tourism studies, encountering influential mentors who ignited her passion for environmental education and global exploration.

Read more about Kelsey!

Savannah May

Future Livestock Operation Owner, Animal Science Grad, University of Wyoming

Savannah May recently graduated with a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. Savannah believes in the power of education in order to bridge the gap between the Agricultural community and the general public. She is wanting to create a more comfortable and inclusive environment for producers and advocates. 

Read more about Savannah!

Keely Murphy

Fellow, Colorado Open Lands Conservation Team

Keely Murphy became interested in the environment from a young age. While attending American University she took a Food in America literature course that piqued her interest in the connection between food and the environment. She continued to study large scale food policy, including an internship at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization during her undergraduate degree. 

Read more about Keely!

Erica Smith

Beekeeper, Artist

Erica is an artist and beekeeper who grew up with a love of learning and helping others. As a child she spent her free time wandering creeks, climbing trees, exploring the woods, and gardening with her mother in Northern Virginia. Her great grandparents owned land in Missouri and Kansas where they farmed for roughly 60 years until retirement, instilling a long line of agricultural appreciation. Erica has been fortunate enough to have many mentors and teachers along the way, giving her vast experience of the world and the various skills and trades to explore.

Read more about Erica!

Allison Rea

Urban Farmer

Allison is an urban farmer who works with the people of Pueblo, Colorado to create food sovereignty by promoting community gardens and growing food within cities. Allison believes that the most nutritious and tasty food you can find is that grown by your own neighbors. 

Read more about Allison!

Ally Reeder

AmeriCorps Service Member

Allyson is an AmeriCorps service member based in Gunnison, Colorado. She believes that every person has the right to access healthy food, and that this is best achieved through supporting local food systems.

Read more about Ally!

Hunter Wills

Student Lead, Colorado State University Global Food Innovation Center

Hunter Wills is a third-year animal science major at Colorado State University. He is passionate about livestock, including meat and dairy production and management, as well as animal behavior. 

Read more about Hunter!