MEET THE TEAM
KEEFE KEELEY, MS
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
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 Agriculture & Restoration Services LLC and two innovative agroforestry farms in central Illinois that grow chestnuts, hazelnuts, and currants.
KRISTY GRULEY, PhD
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
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
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 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 on 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 is completing M.S. programs in both Life Sciences Communication and Agroecology. His thesis work focuses on the use of cattle as a management tool for improving grassland habitat. In his free time, Jacob enjoys hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, and playing music.
Kelly hails from Southeast Louisiana, where she obtained a BS in psychology and sociology from Louisiana State University, followed by an MS in clinical mental health counseling from the University of New Orleans. Kelly has combined this interest in personal motivation and behavior change with two other interests: all things creative and all things environmental. In contexts ranging from higher education, community art organizations, and conservation non-profits, she has contributed to educational program development, outreach efforts, and marketing and branding strategies. Since moving to the Midwest in 2013, Kelly co-founded Milkweed Matters, an environmental conservation and education non-profit which works to increase pollinator habitat in roadsides by tossing seedballs into rights-of-way during large-scale bike rides. Kelly is currently an MS student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute, where she continues to explore behavior change surrounding pollinator habitat, citizen science, and sustainability.