STAR support team


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 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 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


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.


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.

Jody Bickel

CEO, Founder & Chief Coach of Creekbank Associates

Jody Bickel is the CEO, Founder & Chief Coach of Creekbank Associates where she provides coaching, advisory consulting and technical solutions for sustainability leaders. Jody’s experience spans more than 25 years in ecosystem services and a lifetime of work involving environmental conflict resolution, agribusiness, natural resources management and the development of environmental markets. She has successfully led teams and guided stakeholders in natural asset ventures at varying scales. As a supporting team member, Jody applies her practitioner lens to the overall strategy of STAR’s program design, development and financing to advance durable conservation outcomes.

Thayer Tomlinson

Communications Director

Thayer Tomlinson has worked in organizational communications for the last 15 years. At STAR, she manages national STAR communications and supports STAR Affiliates. She supports/has supported a number of organizations focused on agriculture and climate change, including the International Biochar Initiative, Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, Dairy Research Institute, and Ecosystem Services Market Consortium. She also provides the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program research and technical support for small business and congregational energy efficiency.

She holds a Masters in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia. She lives in rural Vermont where she enjoys gardening, hiking, reading and watercolor painting.