Board President – Andrew Burgess
Andrew is an early retiree who moved to the Bitterroot Valley in March of 2018. Andrew received his Bachelor’s degree in computer science software from U.C. Berkeley. After a successful career in consumer and business product development, video game development, and R&D for both start-ups and corporations in Silicon Valley and non-US companies, he decided to get out of Metropolis for a much slower pace in rural America, finding a bit of heaven on earth in Stevensville. If you ask him what his greatest achievement has been, he will tell you it was raising two incredible daughters as a single-parent with a full-time high-tech job.
Early in the formation of the BHC, Andrew’s inquisitiveness about the resurging hemp industry quickly turned into a desire to help establish and grow the cooperative into a major player in Montana. As a result of his enthusiasm, motivation, and dynamic personality, the membership elected Andrew to be their 1st board member and President.
Board Vice-President – Laura Garber
Laura owns and co-operates the Homestead Organics Farm, with her partner Henry Wuensche, growing certified organic produce, poultry, and seeds for over a decade. Laura has worked consistently to connect our community through food and building community engagement by offering volunteer opportunities, internships, summer camps, work
Laura Garber is the owner and co-operator of Homestead Organics Farm, a certified organic mixed vegetable, seed, hemp, and poultry farm located in Hamilton, MT. Laura is a community builder, out-of-the-box thinker, and motivator for all sorts of people, new ideas, and projects.
Laura graduated with High Honors from the University of Montana in 2000, having moved to Montana in 1994.
She is a founding member of several cooperatives and believes strongly in the power of communities to create a better world together. Laura has served on the boards of multiple organizations and cooperatives including: Loyal To Local Community and Agriculture Cooperative, the Montana Poultry Growers Cooperative, Triple Divide Organic Seeds Cooperative, AERO (Alternative Energy Resources Organization), MOA (the Montana Organic Association), the Ravalli County Right to Farm and Ranch Board, MOCAC (Montana Organic Commodities Advisory Council), The Center for Spiritual Life Bitterroot Valley, the Hamilton Farmers Market Cooperative, and the Bitterroot Hemp Cooperative.
Laura was an AmeriCorps member for one term with ‘Volunteer Montana!’ where she was the Regional Coordinator for nine other AmeriCorps members. Laura served two years as a Montana Campus Corps member with Volunteer Action Services on the University of Montana Campus. In this capacity she organized a successful week-long AIDS education series for high school students and community members, in cooperation with the AIDS Quilt Memorial Project, Hellgate High School, and University of Montana student volunteers. In addition, Laura successfully developed, organized, and managed seven ‘Spring Break Away’ trips for UM students for the spring of 1998. The trips included 49 student volunteers doing service-learning with projects ranging from the Denver Boys and Girls Club to the Edible School Yard in Berkeley, California.
Laura and her husband Henry lead on-farm experiential learning opportunities for youth and families at their farm, Homestead Organics Farm. In 2017, Laura founded ‘Cultivating Connections’, a non-profit organization under the umbrella of the Bitter Root RC&D. Through Cultivating Connections, Laura creates, directs, and leads farm- based learning for children and families. Cultivating Connections successful programming includes programs for youth living at the Linda Massa Youth Home, girls in the Missoula, Montana, YWCA ‘GUTS’ program, children with autism as ‘Special Abilities Camp’ (in cooperation with Bitterroot Art for Autism), Farm Camp, Hamilton school district kindergarten students as the ‘Kinder-Gardeners’ program, and high school students as ‘Youth Farm Interns’. As the largest program, the Youth Farm Internship mentors high school students in organic agriculture and community involvement. Participants work and learn how to grow food for their own 20 week CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program) as well as the ‘Salads for Seniors’ program (in cooperation with the Ravalli County Council On Aging).
In addition to teaching farming, Cultivating Connections has successfully offered two Community Round Table event series, in 2018 and 2019. Laura co-facilitated the three, and five part series. The Community Round Table events teach new social tools to improve the future of the community. Laura also co-taught these Theory-U based tools as a class through the Bitterroot College in the fall of 2018.
Board Secretary – Steven Smith
Board Treasurer – Jeanette Haas
Board Member at Large – Arlin Fratzke
Arlin has lived and worked in the Bitterroot Valley for more than 20 years His family has a long history of cattle ranching and grassland farming. Arlin, himself has been raising cattle and growing grass nearly as long as he’s been in the Bitterroot. Arlin is co-owner of the Flying AJ Ranch with his wife, Jenny.
As a board member at large, he provides guidance and support to the board and membership. Arlin has communication skills, the ability to provide “wise counsel,” and interacts with others with ease.
Most recently, Arlin has be appointed to the Montana Hemp Advisory Board by MDA Director Benjamin Thomas. Having a member of the BHC on the advisory board will be a great benefit to the BHC membership. Arlin will be advising the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) on research, marketing and education efforts. The committee will also be responsible for proposing an assessment and collection method for a Montana hemp checkoff. Any proposed assessment and method of collection will then be submitted to all known Montana hemp growers for a formal vote.
Board Member at Large – Brigid Jarrett
Bridgid was born in Montana and has spent her life associated with agriculture and rural life. After receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Montana State University in Microbiology, she took a decade-long hiatus then returned to employment combining her two passions of growing crops and science. Bridgid is the Research Lab Manager and Small Fruit Coordinator for Montana State University’s Western Agriculture Research Center located in Corvallis, MT. It is part of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) Research Center System. Their mission is to promote and conduct studies related to agriculture and natural resources related to the Montana economy. In Corvallis, Bridgid is part of a team that conducts scientific investigation directly applicable to growers of high dollar crops that can be successful on small acre parcels.
As a board member at large, she hopes to help facilitate the introduction of a hemp industry into Montana’s agricultural landscape as a commodity crop and support Bitterroot Hemp as a specialty crop related to a long list of value-added products.
Board Member at Large – Rick Heilman
Born in west central Iowa, Rick Heilman comes from a long line of pioneering agriculturalists. Having graduated from the UM School of business in 2007 he holds degrees in Information Systems Management and Marketing and brings to the table an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to develop sustainable hemp-based industries in Western Montana. Rick, his wife Carey and their four-legged family reside just outside of Florence, Montana.
Board Member at Large – Dr. Daniel D. Wolf
Dr. Dan Wolf grew up in Portland, Oregon and graduated from Western State Chiropractic College in the fall of 1981. Dr. Wolf has operated his own chiropractic clinic for 37 years, first in eastern Montana and now in the Bitterroot Valley.
Dr. Wolf has been a licensed grower under that program since 2017 and has expanded his acreage in hemp every year. As a skilled handyman (having built his own super insulated home 20 years ago), he has built equipment for processing hemp into a hemp oil containing concentrated CBD and has marketed his oil for more than 2 years. He has also experimented with ideas for other applications of this very useful and versatile plant and is eager to help others find uses for hemp.
612 N 1st St., STE 2-188, Hamilton MT 59840