Gavan Flammang

As the Producer Programs Intern, Gavan utilizes his passion for agriculture and conservation, as he helps expand  producer enrollment and outreach efforts within The SustainAg Network.

Gavan previously worked with Millborn Seeds, where he primarily worked in the warehouse packaging orders while creating new ways to operate more efficiently within the company since January of 2023. Additionally, his background includes volunteering for the NRCS of Brookings County, being an active member of the Ida County Iowa Pheasants Forever Chapter and is the treasurer of the South Dakota State University Pheasants Forever Chapter.

Gavan is currently a junior at SDSU working towards his degree in Ecology/Environmental Sciences.

Julia Andrus

Julia connects across the food and agriculture industries as Director of Marketing and Communications, with a goal to build shared values around resilience and sustainability.

That mission is rooted in her family’s row crop farm in the Texas Panhandle, where she currently resides. Julia seeks to share the tenacious spirit of rural America, along with the positive land use changes that will help farms and ranches thrive for generations to come.

With a background in advocacy communications and cause marketing, Julia has experience connecting diverse audiences around shared values to spur collaboration and action. She has used these strengths to advance education policy, international development, and sustainable agriculture.

Julia is  pursuing a master’s degree in international agriculture from Oklahoma State University to complement her master’s degree in corporate and non-profit communication from Johns Hopkins University and bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas Christian University. She also has a professional certificate in Sustainable Capitalism & ESG from Berkeley Law Executive Education.

Aline DeLucia

Aline DeLucia leads AgSpire in pursuing cutting-edge ideas to address challenges and advance goals. With a background in livestock nutrition and reproduction, stakeholder engagement, corporate issues management, and agricultural policy and advocacy, Aline offers a comprehensive and pragmatic understanding of the industry.

Aline started her career in livestock, where she worked on beef cattle reproduction, as well as exotic ruminants’ nutrition. She maintains strong ties to her family’s beef cattle ranch in Brazil, bringing a valuable perspective into discussions impacting producers and the food value chain.

She took that practical knowledge and applied it to public policy and business management. Through her roles with Syngenta, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and BASF, Aline gained extensive experience engaging stakeholders throughout the agriculture value chain to advance key industry issues.

She has three master’s degrees spanning the breadth of agricultural sciences and business from Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Austin Knight

Austin grew up helping on the family century farm and now operates that farm with his uncle raising hogs, corn, and soybeans. Austin has seen the effects of incorporating conservation practices on his own farm and uses those experiences to help others incorporate practices on their operations. Previously, Austin worked as a Sustainability Agronomist working with producers across the country helping bring value to their operations through sustainable practices.

Austin holds a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University. He is also a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) and Technical Service Provider (TSP) through NRCS, covering multiple practices and states.

In his spare time, Austin enjoys learning about agriculture, gardening, and spending time outdoors.

Dr. Kristina Porter

Dr. Kristina Porter serves as a technical advisor for AgSpire, bringing deep expertise to our livestock focused programs.

She has spent most of her veterinary career focusing on reproduction to maximize performance and profitability for her clients. She has complemented this focus with low-stress animal handling to create the healthiest, most efficient animal possible.

Dr. Kristina has worked alongside members of the Beef Reproduction task force to develop synchronization protocols for the industry. This earned her their “Service to Industry Award” in 2022 for her contributions.

Dr. Kristina is from eastern South Dakota and returned to the family ranch after veterinary school. Dr. Kristina received her BS in Animal Science from Kansas State University in 2008 and her DVM from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State in 2010. She completed the Executive Veterinary Program from the University of Illinois in 2023.

She and her husband, also a veterinarian, practice in Huron, South Dakota while raising their four daughters and working on the family ranch.

Derek Ver Helst

Derek is passionate about conservation and natural ecosystems – a passion he uses to guide his work as Senior Conservation Agronomist.

Prior to this role, Derek spent more than 15 years working with landowners and corporations to design, manage, and validate research trials, maximizing short- and long-term crop outputs. Always eager to learn, he is continuously expanding his knowledge of soil health, chemistry, biology, technical advancements in crop production and integrated pest management (IPM).

Derek holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from South Dakota State University and a master’s degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University. He is a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), Technical Service Provider (TSP) for the NRCS, and is also a small business owner.

Ryan Eichler

As the Director of Producer Programs, Ryan leads Network enrollment, where he strives to connect farmers and ranchers with the right sustainability programs that capture value and increase resiliency of their operations.

Ryan has 20 years of experience working diligently to assist producers in finding operational value in consulting and sales roles with companies that include Cargill, Elanco, DSM, and Millborn Seeds. A 2001 graduate of South Dakota State University, Ryan holds a B.S. degree in Animal Science.

He and his Family live at rural Lake Preston, SD, where they own a commercial cow herd and backgrounding cattle operation.

Jared Knock

With extensive experience in diverse regenerative practices, Jared assists AgSpire’s clients to impact their supply chains through strategy and implementation of land use practices.

Jared has 25 years of experience on the land as a part-owner of a diversified livestock and crop farm in Eastern South Dakota, raising cattle, sheep, hogs, corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, alfalfa, rye, and cover crops. Through the lessons learned on his own land, Jared is passionate about equipping fellow farmers and ranchers to enable greater resilience and functionality through positive land management and grazing practices.

Jared’s expertise has been further honed through his background in livestock genetics, seed sales, business development, and as co-host of the Roots + Ruminants Podcast. Jared has a degree in Animal Science from South Dakota State University and China Agricultural University in Beijing.