STAR support team

WHAT WE DO

STAR is a national, non-profit organization established to develop and expand the STAR framework for conservation practice evaluation, implementation, and valuation. Designed and led by producers, the STAR tool utilizes science and experience to target local solutions for local natural resource concerns, and to support farmers and ranchers on their conservation journey – wherever they are.

MAX NEUMEYER

Max Neumeyer comes to this work after a career as a science teacher and a graduate degree in public policy focused on soil health policy. After graduation, he worked with Mad Agriculture and several other partners to launch the Colorado Collaborative for Soils in order to explore a new direction for soil health. Max is now a principal at Ground Up Consulting LLC. Ground Up is working in close partnership with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University, Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources, conservation districts, philanthropic and other partners to develop soil health programming for the Rocky Mountain West and beyond.

HELEN D. SILVER

Helen D. Silver is a principal at Ground Up Consulting LLC. Ground Up Consulting has helped to design and implement the Colorado Department of Agriculture Soil Health Program and is a co-director the Integrated Rocky Mountain-region Innovation Center for Healthy Soil (IN-RICHES) at CSU. Helen received her law degree in 2004 and her Masters in Sustainability and Environmental Management in 2017.

Emily holleran

STAR Science Committee Coordinator, Ground Up Consulting

Building on her previous career as a Supply Chain Management Consultant, Emily Holleran currently works as a Sustainability Consultant and University Instructor, focusing on soil health and its integral role in sustainable food systems. She instructs online and collaborates with governments, nonprofits, businesses, and producers to develop practices and community-driven programs centered around soil health. In addition to holding a graduate degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management, Emily has trained as a soil microbiome lab technician and served as the Vice-chair of a local food policy network.

Austin Arrington

FOUNDER, PLANT Group

Austin Arrington is a software developer, scientist, and entrepreneur working on technologies to connect humans and nature. He is the Director of Technology and Innovation at Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) and prior to joining ESMC, he was a machine learning engineer with Teralytic, where he helped develop and bring to market technologies for monitoring and decision-making around soil health. In 2016, he founded the environmental consultancy PLANT Group, installing urban farms and green roofs across the Northeast, while helping growers cut water use by 25% using Internet of Things (IoT) smart irrigation systems. Austin is a published researcher and holds an M.S. in Environmental Science from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, an M.A. in Bioethics from NYU, and a B.A. in English from Penn State University. His research explores the intersection of ecology, technology, and ethics. PLANT Group is a climate tech company developing software solutions for decarbonizing the planet, while connecting humans and nature. Austin provides STAR agile project management, product development, UI/UX research, and data science services to support STAR’s work in sustainable agriculture and soil health.

ANDREW MCCLINTICK

Director of Product Development, Heartland Science and Technology

Andrew McClintick brings nearly three decades of software and database development and project management experience in a variety of industries to Heartland. He has worked for Heartland since 2016 managing product development, coding in Python, designing and managing MongoDB and PostgreSQL databases, and providing client and user support. His education includes a certificate in Project Management from DePaul University and a BA from Principia College.

Skeet Skaalen

Managing Partner, Principal Engineer, Wave Interactive

Skeet Skaalen’s thought leadership and system architecture experience across various technologies and industries bring our clients’ offerings to the next-level. As a Managing Partner, he helps clients create the architecture and strategy around digital implementations ranging from e commerce to systems integration and beyond. Skeet has over 20 years’ experience in technologies including a variety of programming languages, complex system architecture, information technology, analytics and search engine optimization. Skeet is an electronics engineer with extensive experience in systems, networking and web technologies. He has worked closely with hundreds of companies in consultation, architect and implementation roles.

Brian Fischer

Brian Fischer leads GIS and technology services offered by HEI. As a Nebraska native and someone who grew up in a rural farming community, Brian is passionate about the agricultural industry because he knows how it affects people—and not just the farmers and landowners. This passion has led him to focus on creating numerous software development projects aimed at improving the environment and water quality. Brian has worked with stakeholders across the country to develop unique systems that focus on improving data management.

JESS MCCARRON

Executive vice president, signal group

Jess McCarron combines her passion for nature with her policy expertise to advise communications strategy for a variety of clients with a focus in food, agriculture, conservation, and other issue areas. Drawing from her 10+ years of experience as a trusted advisor and spokesperson to senior leadership in government and nonprofits, Jess takes a creative approach to storytelling and problem-solving to help clients break through and shape the conversation around high-profile issues.

Prior to joining Signal, Jess served as Press Secretary and Strategic Communications Advisor for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. She advised the Committee during the 2018 Farm Bill, where she led communications strategies to build bipartisan support for climate-smart agriculture, food assistance, clean energy, forestry, land and water conservation, and more.

Before her work on Capitol Hill, Jess was an Obama Administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving as Deputy Press Secretary to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

ANDREW POSTAL

SENIOR MANAGER, signal group

Andrew Postal brings a decade of strategic communications and media relations experience in both the public and private sectors. Andrew has a passion for environmental and energy policy and works to boil down complex policies into plain language that is accessible to the public and media.

Prior to joining Signal, Andrew served as the Communications Director at the Climate Action Campaign—a vibrant coalition of a dozen major national environment, environmental justice, and public health groups working together to drive ambitious, durable federal action based on science to address the climate crisis. During his time at CAC, Andrew led the development of messaging and communications strategies, both at the national and state level, to bring climate to the forefront for key decisionmakers.

He also worked on Capitol Hill for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and for U.S. Representative Julia Brownley (CA-26).

VINCENT SHEU

SENIOR MANAGER OF DIGITAL CONTENT, signal group

As Senior Manager of Digital Content at Signal, Vincent Sheu is an expert in social media strategy. He leverages social media algorithms to help clients elevate their content, optimize digital media, and grow organic engagement.

Prior to joining Signal, Vincent served in the U.S. Senate for six years. As Digital Director, he executed one of the fastest growing digital programs in the Democratic Caucus. Vincent coordinated multiple viral social media posts that accumulated over 50 million impressions and engagements, resulting in over 150,000 followers gained across platforms.

Vincent has extensive experience with photography, video editing, graphic design, and copywriting for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and e-mail newsletters. He weaves together digital expertise and strategic communications to deliver tangible social media solutions for clients.

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS