Advancing Digital Agriculture and Conservation:

A Virtual,  Multi-Day Policy Workshop

Charles Baron

Charles Baron

Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder

Farmers Business Network

Charles guides the development of the breakthrough farmer-to-farmer network. Previously, Charles was a program manager at Google where he started and led product, investment and research initiatives in advanced energy technologies. Charles’ passion for farming developed after working a corn harvest on his brother-in-law’s farm in Arapahoe, Neb., prior to joining Google. Charles earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth and an MBA from Harvard with coursework at MIT.

Jason Weller

Jason Weller

Vice President of Truterra

Land O’Lakes

Jason Weller joined Land O’Lakes, Inc., in 2017 where he serves as the Vice President of Truterra, leading the team that is generating conservation solutions for the farmer cooperative’s members and owners. He previously served as Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the nation’s largest working lands conservation organization. Prior to serving as Chief, Jason served on the U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee on Agriculture, the U.S. House Budget Committee, and in the White House Office of Management and Budget. He and his family live in Minnesota and he’s proud
that his young daughters are 6th generation Minnesotans.

Steve Hagan

Steve Hagen

Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer, and Senior Scientist

Dagan, Inc.

With nearly 25 years’ experience in environmental research and data mining techniques, Steve brings tremendous expertise to Dagan’s development of new and critical technology. Steve marries his technical strengths in extraction of land surface information and interpretation of large geospatial datasets (particularly remote sensing data) with his strengths in leadership and critical thinking to head Dagan’s research team in the development of effective technology that improves environmental outcomes in agriculture and forestry.

Alyssa Charney

Legislative assistant for Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa

Alyssa Charney covers agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources issues for U.S. Senator Bob Casey. She previously was a senior policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, where she led the coalition’s work on conservation. Charney holds an MS in Agriculture and Food Policy and an MPH from Tufts University, as well as a BA in Environmental Studies from Vassar College. 

Sarah Beebout

National Program Leader-Sustainable Intensification, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Office of National Programs

Sarah Beebout is the National Program Leader for Sustainable Intensification as USDA's Agricultural Research Service. Prior to her role at USDA, Beebout worked for nearly fifteen years at the International Rice Research Institute where she spent much of her time in the Philippines studying soil chemistry. Beebout has a PhD in Soil Science from Cornell University, a MS in Soil Chemistry from Texas A&M University and a BS in Chemistry from Wheaton College. 

Christina Slay

Christy Slay

Director, Technical Alignment

The Sustainability Consortium

Christy Slay directs the technical alignment and partnership activities for The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) to develop a global, transparent, scientifically based measurement and reporting system for product sustainability. She leads efforts with strategic partners to ensure TSC’s metrics, tools and reporting systems are harmonized and interoperable with existing initiatives. Slay leads TSC’s Agriculture Metrics Task Force, which focuses primarily on data mobility solutions in agriculture supply chains and farm metrics alignment with key organizations. She also leads TSC’s Commodity Mapping Program to develop spatial models for identification of agricultural and wood fiber source regions and works with companies to map their commodity supply chains and related environmental and social risks. Slay develops and leads hands-on training and field courses, as well as other projects to implement TSC tools within businesses.

Andrew Nelson

Andrew Nelson

Farmer and Software Engineer
Nelson Farms, Inc., and Silver Creek Farms, Inc.

Andrew Nelson is a fifth generation farmer in the Palouse Region of Eastern Washington. Before moving back to the family farm, Andrew was a software consultant in the Seattle Area and led software teams in developing solutions for multiple Fortune 100 companies. Since he has moved back to the farm, he has increased the size of his operation by 50 percent. He continues to do software consulting for clients around the U.S., as well as manage his farm. His approach to technology on his farm is to make his operation run more efficiently, reduce costs, increase yield or improve the ground for future generations. His farm has hosted numerous members of the U.S. Congress, as well as international trade delegations. Andrew holds a dual degree from the University of Washington, a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, and a Bachelor of Arts in business administration. He lives on the farm with his wife and two sons.

Chuck Spencer

Executive Director of Government Relations


Charles (Chuck) Spencer is GROWMARK, Executive Director, Government Relations. In this position, he is responsible for developing, leading and administering the government relations team that involves corporate legislative and regulatory activities and programs for the GROWMARK System.

The Government Relations team:

  • develops and implements corporate strategic policy communications initiatives,

  • analyzes legislation, regulation, trade, and public affairs issues for their potential impact,

  • advocates on behalf of local FS member cooperatives works with state and federal regulatory agencies and legislative leaders,

  • develops and implements proactive media and public relations initiatives for policy priorities


Spencer serves on the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) Governmental Affairs Committee as chairman. He is on the board of directors for the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois. He also serves on federal affairs committees for the Ag
Retailers Association, American Seed Trade Association, The Fertilizer Institute, and CropLife America. He was recognized as the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Agribusiness Person in 2019.

Chuck joined GROWMARK on April 20, 2009. He has more than 25 years of professional experience in state and federal legislative and regulatory affairs. He served as director of national legislation and policy development for the Illinois Farm Bureau, responsible for directing the organization’s policy program, promoting the organization’s position on federal legislative and regulatory issues, and directing grassroots advocacy programs. He also held positions of associate director of state legislation and assistant director of natural and environmental resources, both at Illinois Farm Bureau. Spencer
served as a county Farm Bureau manager in Mason and Henry (Ill.) counties.

Spencer holds a B.S. degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Spencer, his wife, Debbie, and their daughter live in Bloomington.



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