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Department of Regenerative Organic Agriculture

Programs

About us

The Department of Regenerative Organic Agriculture explores the leading edge of regenerative organic agriculture principles and practices — key to improving soil health, human health, and climate health. Our curriculum emphasizes training in organic agriculture as defined by governments worldwide. Our regenerative agriculture programs build an understanding of how to think critically and holistically when considering the design and flourishing of organic agriculture systems. We engage students in the process of learning through hands-on projects, problem-solving, question-building, journaling, researching, teaching, and collaborating.

Regenerative Agriculture is a systems-based approach to agriculture that leverages natural ecology to build soil, improve water efficiency, and increase biodiversity while emphasizing healthy food, feed, and fiber systems as the foundation of a strong community. Regenerative Agriculture, as defined by Nature, “Aims at regenerating, renewing, and further improving the soil functions and capabilities for ecosystem services in an always-improving process.” Regenerative agriculture practices capture and store more carbon in the soil and release fewer greenhouse gases than conventional agriculture. And by using regenerative principles, we can revitalize soil biodiversity to enhance ecosystem services — resulting in carbon drawdown and the restoration of the water cycle.

Faculty

sam james

Sam James, PhDChair of the Department of Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Professor of Ecology

sam james

Sam James is one of the world's leading experts in earthworm ecology and diversity. Dr. James has a PhD in Biology and was an organic farmer in Iowa for 10 years, where he taught a wide range of life science courses at several universities. He also has many international research collaborations in Europe, Asia, and South America.

Tyler Wilfley

Tyler Wilfley, MBADirector of the BA and the Certificate in Regenerative Organic Agriculture, Instructor of Sustainable Business

Tyler Wilfley

Tyler Wilfley is an experienced coordinator with a background in permaculture design, financial management, and sustainable community development. His past experience as a program manager in Northern Thailand included projects in permaculture design, eco-friendly infrastructure, and wildlife conservation. Tyler graduated summa cum laude from Illinois State University with a BA in Philosophy and received the outstanding student award for his MBA in Sustainable Business from Maharishi International University.

steve mclaskey

Steve McLaskey, PhDAssociate Professor of Horticulture

steve mclaskey

Steve received his PhD in horticulture from Cornell University in 1997 and has spent over 25 years farming vegetables in the Midwest. Steve brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to the ROA team with his extensive knowledge in plant physiology, pest, and disease identification, biodynamic applications, and organic certification. He is also one of the lead organizers for the farm’s operational management and cropping strategy.

Yashaswini Sharma

Yashu Sharma, PhDAdjunct Assistant Professor of Horticulture

Yashaswini Sharma

Dr. Yashaswini Sharma is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Horticulture. She is an expert in the field of horticulture and has been involved in research and extension activities for more than 5 years at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Dharwad, India. She has been conducting research on medicinal herbs, conservation, and quality analysis of herbs for 10 years. She has been published in more than 20 research paper in peer-reviewed journals and presented papers at many national and international seminars. She has taught horticulture courses for the last five years on fundamentals of horticulture, plant propagation, fruits and vegetable production, commercial floriculture, ornamental horticulture and landscape gardening, spices and plantation crops, post-harvest technology, medicinal and aromatic crops, and high-tech horticulture.

sl-kris-johnson

Kris Johnson, MSAdjunct Instructor of Regenerative Organic Agriculture

sl-kris-johnson

Kris is a 4th generation Iowa farmer and manager at MIU’s Regenerative Organic Farm. Growing up on his family farm outside of Fairfield, crop production, animal husbandry, and equipment operation/maintenance were normal parts of his day-to-day life. Kris earned his MS in Regenerative Organic Agriculture after majoring in environmental science and sociology. He worked on organic farms and then started his own, Market Garden. He has extensive experience in machine maintenance, greenhouse operations, market gardening, and soil management.

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