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Profit Through Conservation: Supporting Farmers for Conservation Outcomes

February 24, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

farmers in field with row crops and event details listed

Nature-based solutions, ecosystem services markets, soil carbon farming, on-farm conservation, regenerative agriculture, natural climate solutions – all these concepts center around one key question: How do we harness earth’s natural systems to grow food in a way that benefits farmers, the community, and the environment?  Ecosystem service markets are emerging as a key method to pay farmers for adopting practices across the agricultural landscape that protect water quality, restore soil health, and address climate change.  

Throughout the session we will discuss: 

  • Ecosystem service markets, what they are and how they work.  
  • How market-based programs fit into the suite of available on-farm conservation practices. 
  • Policy questions and implications of ecosystem service markets at federal and state levels. 

Our thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service in Minnesota  for the financial support to make this event possible.


Registration for this event is free and attendees have the option to participate virtually, or in person at the Holiday Inn in St. Cloud, Minn. Select your preference on the registration form.

Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. and lunch will be provided to in-person participants.

Questions? Contact Rachel Geissinger at 612-334-3388 ext. 8122.


COVID-19 Policy

Face masks will be required at all times unless eating or drinking and we are designing in-person seating to ensure adequate social distancing.

Agenda & Confirmed Speakers

Learn more about our speakers →

9:30 AM – Doors open, registration, and coffee  

10:00 AM – Welcome  

  • Drew Kessler, Project Manager and Principle, Houston Engineering, Chair – Headwaters Agriculture Sustainability Partnership 
  • Troy Daniell, State Conservationist, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resource Conservation Service 
  • Thom Petersen, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Agriculture 

10:30 AM – Natural climate solutions in Minnesota: Why and how?   

  • Rich Biske, Resilient Waters Program Director, The Nature Conservancy

10:45 AM – Studying the return-on-investment of conservation practices 

  • Keith Olander, Executive Director, Northern Agricultural Center of Excellence, AgCentric & Agricultural Partnerships 
  • Drew Kessler, Project Manager and Principle, Houston Engineering, Chair – Headwaters Agriculture Sustainability Partnership 
  • Mark Lefebvre, Conservation Planner, Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District 
  • Vivian Georgalas, Program Lead, AgSpire

11:15 AM – Ecosystem service markets: What they are and how they work  

  • Leif Fixen, Agriculture Strategy Manager, The Nature Conservancy  
  • Sagar Sunkavalli, Environmental Affairs Manager, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative  

11:45 AM – Perspectives from the farmer and agriculture economy  

  • Steve Schlangen, Producer 
  • Ben Mergen, Producer 
  • Amy Robak, Lead Environmental Specialist, Centra Sota Cooperative 
  • Dennis Fuchs, Administrator, Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (moderator) 

12:15 PM – Ecosystem service markets and conservation programs in the policy landscape 

  • Former U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (MN-7), Keynote Speaker 

12:45 PM – Closing remarks 

  • Steve Peterson, Past Chair – Headwaters Agriculture Sustainability Partnership
  • Cassie Monger, Dairy Lending Specialist, Compeer, and Vice Chair, Headwaters Agriculture Sustainability Partnership

1:00 PM – Lunch (optional) 

  • In-person event attendees are welcome to stay for lunch and networking.

Related Resources


February 24, 2022
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


St. Cloud Holiday Inn
75 37th Ave S
St. Cloud, MN 56301
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