Mitch founded FarmAfield after an agricultural development trip to Africa helped him better understand how vulnerable agricultural systems can be without adequate support, and how often critical tools and support systems in developed countries are taken for granted or neglected. The rapid proliferation of cell phones and data access in rural areas around the world opens many possibilities for farmers and ranchers to connect to new markets and tools, and FarmAfield was founded to help foster these connections.
Mitch has degrees in Mechanical Engineering (University of Nebraska) and Agricultural & Biological Engineering (University of Illinois) with certifications in Strategic Technology Management, Agribusiness for Development and Food Security, and Biomass Energy Resources (all from the University of Illinois). He grew up on a family farm in Nebraska and has first-hand knowledge of risks faced by small farmers. He and his wife Sarah recently entered the world of foster parenting, which has often left them floundering in uncertainty but also learning something new every day (similar to farming)!
John brings a rich collection of experiences to the table as FarmAfield’s COO. He was raised on a small family farm, studied communication and psychology at the University of Illinois, taught public school in inner city Atlanta, and most recently launched a thriving church in Champaign-Urbana. These experiences have greatly enriched John’s understanding of human nature and cultivated a deep passion for helping teams achieve their full potential. It is to this end that he serves FarmAfield.
When not at work, John can be found spending time with his family of six, reading everything written by CS Lewis, and pleading his Fighting Illini sports teams back into relevancy. (Look out Husker football fans, we’re coming for you).
Andrew has degrees in Biological Systems Engineering and Entrepreneurship (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and was born and raised surrounded by agriculture on a small row crop and cow-calf operation. Through employment by several small family farms in the area, he has a firm understanding of the value these operations provide to rural communities along with the obstacles they face each and every day. Andrew pairs his practical knowledge of the agricultural industry with his technical skills in web application development and data modeling to build tools to serve and connect agricultural producers and outside investors in innovative ways.
Chris has degrees in Agricultural & Biological Engineering (University of Illinois) and commercialization experience as co-founder of Violet Acres (a greenhouse production ag company) where he served as operations manager and data analyst. Additionally, Chris has worked in the energy sector where he oversaw the design and construction of solar-powered homes and their control and data acquisition systems. When not at work, you can probably assume that he’s hunting something or blaming his fishing tackle for the lack of fish in his boat, but don’t worry—he already has several redesigns in mind.
Curt earned degrees in Electrical Engineering (B.S., M.S.) and Biological Systems Engineering (Ph.D.) from the University of Nebraska before joining the engineering faculty there, enabling him to continue honing his skills in statistical modeling and computational methods. His upbringing in a small farming-community in Nebraska, coupled with his international travels, gives him a unique perspective regarding the importance of farming around the world. Curt has more interesting stories than most of the other engineers on our team but we remind him that if he didn’t have Olympic medals and experiences from 10 years of international competition and travel, then the only cool thing separating him from the rest of us would be his role as the bass guitarist in a local rock band.
Sid has M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural & Biological Engineering from the University of Illinois, where he also received certification in Strategic Technology Management and an award for Excellence in Sustainable Management & Technology. He has research experience in data mining, statistical/predictive modeling, time-series analysis, and data visualizations. He also has managerial experience with a hydroponics company growing leafy greens and herbs for the burgeoning health and nutrition market in India. He is uniquely comfortable exercising both sides of his brain and is nearly as competent at design work or photography as he is at crunching numbers, which means he gets many requests for help from the rest of us.