MEET THE TEAM
KEEFE KEELEY, MS
608-448-6432 ext. 100
Keefe comes from the Kickapoo Valley of Wisconsin. He studied biology at Swarthmore College and then traveled on a Watson fellowship to live with farmers in the UK, Zambia, New Zealand, India, and Japan and study the spiritual elements of their land ethics. He returned to Wisconsin and worked at Driftless Organics, the state's Department of Agriculture, the Farley Center Farm Incubator, and volunteered as president of Community Conservation, Inc. His research at the University of Wisconsin focused on engaging farmers with their forests, and he co-edited the Driftless Reader. Keefe joined the Savanna Institute to support farmers leading us into a livable future for all. He enjoys canoeing, bicycling, backyard berries, and planting trees on his family’s farm.
KEVIN WOLZ, PhD
608-448-6432 ext. 101
Originally discovering nature while running through the forest preserves around Chicago, Kevin is passionate about applying ecological concepts to solve environmental issues. He received a PhD in 2017 studying alley cropping agroforestry systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at the University of Illinois, Kevin spearheaded the establishment of several innovative agroforestry experiments. He is also the owner of Midwest Agroforestry Solutions and two innovative agroforestry farms in Central Illinois that grow chestnuts, hazelnuts, and currants.
KRISTY GRULEY, PhD
608-448-6432 ext. 102
Kristy grew up picking rocks from her parents’ farm fields in south-central Wisconsin. She studied Earth Science education at UW-Whitewater, where she developed an intense interest in soils, landscapes, and ecology. Later, she received a master’s in Geography from Michigan State University, and then returned to Wisconsin to earn a PhD in Geography from UW-Madison researching soils, geomorphology, and carbon sequestration in Wisconsin’s Black River State Forest. She has taught courses on soils, geomorphology, and earth science, as well as a capstone seminar on food, agriculture, and sustainability. Following graduation, she led evaluation development and implementation for various programs at UW-Madison. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, gardening, canning, and home-improvement projects.
JEANNINE RICHARDS, MA
608-448-6432 ext. 103
Jeannine originally hails from the wooded hills of Western Massachusetts but has lived on the edge of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area since 2003. She studied Conservation Biology and Environmental Policy at Boston University and obtained a Master’s degree in Zoology from Miami University’s Global Field Program. After working on private lands conservation and environmental education for over a decade at the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Jeannine returned to school to pursue a PhD at UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on the potential for nature conservation in the shade coffee agroforests of Central America. She is passionate about fusing agricultural and conservation goals to build sustainable food systems that can support us into the future.
JESS ROBINSON, MS
608-448-6432 ext. 104
Jess grew up in Southern Illinois, near Shawnee National Forest, where her passion for plants and forest ecology began. She obtained her degree in Environmental Studies at Knox College in Illinois, where she studied the traditional uses of midwestern native plants in forest ecosystems. Her passion for understanding how humans connect with nature through food drove her to pursue an MS in conservation ecology with a focus on agroecology at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. Her masters research involved studying the barriers and challenges farmers face in practicing conservation agriculture in Michigan. She is deeply interested in understanding how agroecology and food sovereignty intersect, and the ways that just knowledge dissemination and co-creation can empower communities. In her free time, Jess loves to farm, cook, and run around in the woods.
JACOB GRACE, MS
608-448-6432 ext. 105
Jacob grew up on a family farm in northwest Missouri, where he helped his parents raise grassfed beef cattle and native prairie plants. He studied biology at Truman State University in Missouri and produced radio stories about Midwest agriculture during an internship with Harvest Public Media in Kansas City. Jacob spent three seasons as a field instructor with the Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyoming before enrolling as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he completed MS programs in both Life Sciences Communication and Agroecology. In addition to his work with the Savanna Institute, Jacob works with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) at UW-Madison.
SCOTT BRAINARD, MS
Tree Crop Analyst
608-448-6432 ext. 107
Scott grew up outside of Albany, New York, and was first exposed to agriculture on vegetable farms in the western part of the state. He studied biology at Swarthmore College, spending his summers working for organic market farms. After graduating, he moved to Philadelphia, where he coordinated several urban gardening projects for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, before moving to Europe to obtain a MSc degree in organic agriculture from Wageningen University. Scott is currently pursuing a PhD in the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is excited to bring his experience on farms and within academia to help improve the diversity and resiliency of Midwestern agriculture.
Kaitie Adams, MA
Research & Demonstration Farm Manager
608-448-6432 ext. 108
Kaitie is a Southern Illinois native whose commitment to good food, regenerative farming, ethical foraging, and deep rooted human connection emerged from the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest. These passions culminated in a large-scale research project for which she received a Master’s Degree in Anthropology in 2015 from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Kaitie’s work explored the social life of seeds and mushroom cultures on small scale farms in Southern Illinois and the powerful relationships agriculture creates. Prior joining the Savanna Institute Kaitie was a farmer & educator at EarthDance Organic Farm School, supported work at Mandala Gardens, helped run Monte Alegre Vineyard & Cellars, and sold produce at an immigrant-owned grocery. She currently runs a small business transforming produce seconds into value-added products and is the Farm Manager at Midwest Agriculture & Restoration Services and Seven Sisters Farm. Kaitie is excited to continue her work helping create resilient, regenerative farming systems with the Savanna Institute.