Published Oct 26, 2023

Celebrating Staff Milestones

By Sally Worley

Practical Farmers is farmer-centric. You will see this threaded throughout our work – from this magazine, full of farmer experiences and stories, to our events, to our program design. This farmer focus is one of our core values, and it’s integral to our relevance and impact.

Since our founding, PFI and its members have also strongly valued building relationships and community – both among one another and with PFI staff. Many of you have come to know individual PFI staff members you regularly work with. If you’ve called the office, you’ve likely talked with someone from our friendly membership team – Debra Boekholder, Steve Carlson, Emma Liddle or Kyleigh Meyeres. With our rapid growth the past couple of years, however, our staff size has significantly expanded. We’ve added new departments and grown existing ones – and we know it can be hard to keep up.

In our most recent member survey, as well as in conversations I’ve had, many of you have expressed a desire to know more about our staff – who we all are and what we do. We hear your interest – and we plan to share more updates about office life and PFI staff going forward. In the meantime, as fall turns into winter and you have time to do more reading, I encourage you to look at the staff profiles on our website. As of this writing, we are up to 40-some staff! My colleagues are all talented, hardworking, mission-driven individuals. They also lead full lives outside of PFI. As part of our commitment to helping you better know the staff who are here to serve you, here are some personal milestones a few have experienced this past summer.


Photo courtesy of Maganda Photography

Alisha Bower, PFI’s senior operations director, lives in Ames, Iowa, with her husband, Allen Chen, and their dog, Scout. Alisha has been at PFI since January 2017. She is an integral part of making sure we have the people, processes and money to do our work. This past year, Alisha led our transition to new finance software during some finance staff turnover. This was a huge task, and she did so while helping lead PFI’s transition to other technology platforms, including new member software, and carrying out other integral duties. Alisha and Allen got married in July. Here is a photo from their Wisconsin wedding.

Baby Arlo

Lydia and David’s son, Arlo

Lydia English, PFI’s field crops viability manager, joined PFI in June 2020. Lydia, who lives in Ames, is overseeing PFI’s growing cover crop and small grains cost-share programs. In the year ahead, she will lead our efforts to help farmers plant more than 500,000 acres of cover crops and 35,000 acres of small grains with support from PFI’s cost-share. She and her partner, David Delaney, just had a baby in late July. Meet Lydia and David’s son, Arlo.

Liz & David

Photo courtesy of Kristland Lee Photography

Liz Kolbe, PFI’s senior farmer-led education manager, lives in Ames with her husband, David Walker, and their cat, Jack Pumpkinhead. Liz has had several roles at PFI since she started a decade ago in July 2013. In her present role, she has successfully hired and grown the farmer-led education team over the past year and a half. Staff and members alike appreciate Liz’s deep understanding of what “farmer-led” means, and how she has delivered farmer-led education offerings. Liz and David also got married this past July. Here is a photo of their Grinnell, Iowa, wedding.

As PFI grows, we’ll continue to feature farmers predominantly. But we’ll also continue to sprinkle in snapshots of staff, what they’re working on and what they’re up to outside of work, to help you better know the wonderful team we have.

Thanks for being part of this welcoming and caring network.