Growing for the Future Speakers

Frayne Olson

Director – Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives, North Dakota State University

Dr. Frayne Olson is the Crop Economist/Marketing Specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension and Director of the Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives.  Dr. Olson conducts educational programs and research in evaluating crop marketing strategies, crop outlook and price analysis, and the economics of crop contracting.  As Director of the Center for Cooperatives, he teaches a senior level course on cooperative business management and coordinates the Center’s research and outreach activities.

Dr. Olson received his PhD from the University of Missouri in Agricultural Economics, and his M.S. and B.S. in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University.

Gary Matteson

Senior Vice President – Beginning Farmer Programs and Outreach, Farm Credit Council

Gary Matteson works for Farm Credit’s trade association in Washington, DC as Senior Vice President, Beginning Farmer Programs and Outreach.  This includes policy work on local foods, sustainable agriculture, and direct-to-consumer agriculture.   He frequently speaks to beginning farmers, training on basic financial skills and recordkeeping.  For thirty years Gary was a small farmer raising greenhouse wholesale cut flowers marketed in the Northeast and beef cattle for local sales.  He has served on numerous boards of directors including Farm Credit, the Boston Flower Exchange, and many non-profits.

Siobhan Fathel

Project Coordinator – Energy Answers for the Beginner Farmer and Rancher Project, Penn State University

Siobhan Fathel is an instructor within the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Penn State University.  She teaches courses in biorenewable energy and science communication.  She also coordinates a USDA-funded program: Energy Answers for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher, which is working to create videos and resources that answer common energy questions farmers might have.  This project involves faculty and extension employees across the country to create engaging, informative materials that will be available through  Her personal research interests focus on understanding how sediment moves in farmed areas.

Debbie Dangerfield

President – Dangerfield Consulting, Inc.

Debbie has experience in marketing, retail and of course, accounting. She has trained farmers on financial statements. She has helped store managers go from manual record keeping to computerized. She has implemented inventory control systems nationwide. Through her diverse exposure to different types of businesses, her main focus has always been pointed toward accounting.

She understands how accounting is the connection for business growth and success. In 1988, she founded Dangerfield Consulting to train people on what she knows best – software and accounting. After ten years in business, Debbie narrowed her focus to QuickBooks® accounting software training, in which she is an expert now. She is one of the few Advanced Certified QuickBooks® ProAdvisors in her area, training in all versions of QuickBooks® from QuickBooks® Online to QuickBooks® Enterprise Accounting and QuickBooks® Point of Sale.

On site with clients, Debbie is calm, though she demands focus. She is personable while always professional. She has standards of the highest order, not only in accounting but in life. The joy of her work is seeing the connection between accounting and people. Seeing understanding in the face of a client when something “clicks” is her joy. Seeing the numbers add up perfectly gets her excited. (Well, she is an accounting fanatic.) Seeing a business grow is her greatest accomplishment.

Austin Tucker

Property Risk Manager – National General

Austin Tucker is a risk control thought leader with over 15 years of experience in insurance.  He has been associated with Farmers Union Insurance and National Farmers Union for 3 years helping with a variety of topics including innovation, loss control, and education.

Billy Mitchell

FSMA Training Coordinator, National Farmers Union

As FSMA Training Coordinator, Billy Mitchell plans, organizes, and instructs Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings, food safety field days, and shorter FSMA or food safety workshops around the country. Prior to this position, Mitchell worked on different diversified vegetable farms in Georgia and spent a year and a half learning the ins and outs of small farm food safety at Global Growers.

Cara Fraver

Business Services Director, National Young Farmers Coalition

Before joining the Young Farmers team, Cara owned and managed a diversified vegetable farm with her husband in upstate New York. Through work with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Just Food in NYC, and the New York State Berry Growers Association, she’s connected farmers with resources and education to improve their businesses for more than 15 years.

John Zippert

Director of Program Operations, Federation of Southern Cooperatives

John Zippert served as the Director of Program Operations for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund at their Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama, for 49 years from 1971-2018. He retired in December 2018 but continues to volunteer and serve as Program Director Emeritus for the Federation.

John has over 50 years experience in community organizing, cooperative and credit union development, community based economic development and rural development in distressed communities. Prior to working for the Federation, he was a fieldworker for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Louisiana (1965-67). He has a BA degree in history from the City College of New York; and has participated in numerous training sessions and courses to enhance his skills in rural development.

Zippert has worked with the Federation on the development of affordable housing for low income people in Alabama, including development, loan packaging and construction of over 250 units of single family housing, self-help housing and four rural multi-family projects with 126 units.

Pamela Madzima

Alabama State Coordinator, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/LAF

Based at the Rural Training and Research Center, Pamela Madzima has worked with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/LAF for 15 years providing technical assistance to member-cooperatives of the Federation/LAF and the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives.

Ms. Madzima’s primary responsibilities include coordinating outreach/technical assistance to member cooperatives, and small, limited resource landowners that are interested in forming agricultural cooperatives; assisting cooperatives with incorporating, and drafting by-laws; exploring marketing outlets for value-added products; resource development; and facilitating educational training plans. Pamela serves on various committees and is on the Board of Shared Capital Cooperative, and the Southern Reparations Loan Funds’ Council.

Ruby Ward

Professor and Extension Economist, Utah State University

Dr. Ruby Ward is a Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Applied Economics at Utah State University (USU). She has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and MBA from Texas A&M University. Dr. Ward has served 20 years as a State Extension Specialist in Utah where she leads educational programming in agribusiness with a focus on tribal programs. Dr. Ward is the Co-Chair of the National Farm Income Tax Extension Committee and runs a website for farm income tax information (