MAELC is a 16-member legislative council dedicated to the improvement of Agricultural Education in Minnesota.
The state legislature, agricultural educators, and agriculture industry leaders are all represented on the council.

Patrice Bailey

Patrice Bailey was appointed to the position of Assistant Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) in June, 2019. Bailey oversees Outreach, Agricultural Marketing and Development, Dairy and Meat Inspection, and Food and Feed Safety for the MDA.

Bailey, a native of Harlem, New York, holds a B.S. in Agricultural Education from Prairie View A&M University (Texas) and has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Education from Iowa State University.

He has served the Twin Cities in several positions focused on bridging underrepresented communities of color to various available resources and advocating for them legislatively at the Capitol. Most recently, he served as the Outreach Director for the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage.

Contact Patrice Bailey

Connect to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Website

Dennis Bona

Dr. Dennis Bona serves as President of Northland Community & Technical College. Prior to this role, he was President of Kellogg Community College (KCC) in Battle Creek, Michigan. He began at his career at KCC as a Welding Instructor in 1981 and then worked his way through the administrative ranks serving as Chair of Trades & Technology, Director of the Regional Manufacturing Technology Center, Dean of Career & Occupational Education and Vice President for Instruction.

An accomplished speaker, Dr. Bona has presented at State and National Conferences, testified to the Michigan Legislature and the Minnesota State Board of Trustees. He has taught as an adjunct professor for Western Michigan University and Michigan State University and was recognized nationally with the Administrative Leadership Award from the National Council for Learning Resources of the American Association of Community Colleges in 2009. He holds two undergraduate degrees from Ferris State University and both his Master’s and Doctorate degrees are from Western Michigan University.

Contact Dennis Bona

Connect to Minnesota State Colleges & Universities Website

Connect to Farm Business Management Website

Brian Buhr

Brian Buhr is a professor at the University of Minnesota and serves as the Dean for the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Prior to this position, he was the Head of the Department of Agricultural Education and Applied Economics.

Dr. Buhr works in the areas of commodity marketing with an emphasis in livestock markets. He has worked extensively with commodity marketing groups on risk management, value added marketing and the economic impacts of policy and technology. Dr. Buhr completed his Ph.D. from the Iowa State University.

Contact Brian Buhr

Connect to AgEd Website

Connect to CFANS Website

Jessica Daberkow

Jessica Daberkow is an agriculture teacherat Heron Lake Okabena High School. She is serving as the President-Elect of the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators (MAAE).

Jessica graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education in 2008. She began her teaching career at Cedar Mountain for her first six years and is now entering her 13th year of teaching at Heron Lake Okabena.

Jessica and her husband, Jeremy, and twin boys, Axel and Everett, live in Lakefield, MN where they also farm corn and soybeans and raise hogs.

Contact Jessica Daberkow

Connect to MAAE Website

Senator Gary Dahms

Senator Gary Dahms is serving his third term as State Senator for District 16 and is the Chair of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy committee. He also serves on the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy; Capital Investment; E-12 Finance and Policy; and Rules and Administration committees.

Senator Dahms lives in Redwood Falls and is married with two grown children and two grandchildren. He is a retired insurance agent and former County Commissioner.

Contact Senator Gary Dahms

Connect to Senator Gary Dahms' Legislative Page

Senator Kari Dziedzic

Senator Kari Dziedzic is serving her third term as State Senator for District 60, representing Minneapolis. She serves as the Minority Lead on the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance committee. Senator Dziedzic also serves on the Judiciary and Public Safety and Policy, and Taxes committees.

Connect to Senator Kari Dziedzic's Legislative Page

Rod Hamilton

Representative Rod Hamilton was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2004, and is representing district 22B in his eighth term. He serves as the Minority Lead on the Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy committee. Representative Hamilton also serves on the Health and Human Services Finance, and Ways and Means committees.

Representative Hamilton is a pork producer from Mountain Lake and is married with two children.

Contact Representative Rod Hamilton

Connect to Representative Rod Hamilton's Legislative Page

Michelle Kamenov

Michelle Kamenov, M.A. is the Career Development and Career Technical Education Supervisor at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). Prior to coming to MDE, she was a classroom teacher, coordinator of strategic youth initiatives and project coordinator at the University of Minnesota.

Kamenov has experience leading programs and initiatives to develop youth leaders in rural and urban Minnesota communities and has a strong background in community education, youth development, service-learning and project based learning. She also has a variety of experiences leading professional development and research projects around career and college readiness, Career and Technical Education, service-learning, youth development, and partnership development.

Contact Michelle Kamenov

Connect to the Minnesota Department of Education Website

Kristin Kovar

Dr. Kristin Kovar is an Associate Professor of Agricultural Education at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. She has been preparing future teachers and leaders for Minnesota since 2015. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in research, curriculum development, instructional methodology, and leadership.She also currently serves as the Secretary for Lyon County Farm Bureau, is a representative on the Lyon County Extension Committee and is a board member for the Minnesota West Foundation.

Dr. Kovar completed her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.

Contact Kristin Kovar

Connect to AgEd Website

Connect to SMSU Website

Representative Mary Kunesh Podein

Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016, and is representing district 41B in her second term. She is the Vice-Chair of the Education Policy committee and also serves on the Education Finance, Ethics, and Health and Human Services Finance committees.

Representative Kunesh-Podein is a Library Media Specialist and resides in New Brighton. She is married with three children.

Contact Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein

Connect to Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein's Legislative Page

Tim Larson

Tim Larson is an agricultural education instructor and FFA Advisor at Medford Public Schools and is presently serving as President of the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators (MAAE).

Tim graduated from North Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education in 1983, and a Masters of Education from the University of Minnesota in 2006. Tim has been teaching the last 21 years at his home high school of Medford. Tim is also the Trap Shooting Head Coach and teaches Drivers Education.

Tim and his wife, Joanne, live outside of Medford where they have raised five children; all of whom have been members of the Medford Agricultural Education department and FFA program.

Contact Tim Larson

Connect to MAAE Website

Natasha Mortenson

Natasha Mortenson serves as the Minnesota FFA Foundation representative and works with Community Relations and Education for Riverview, LLP.

Natasha Mortenson grew up on a small crop farm in West Central Minnesota. Currently, Natasha lives in rural Swift County, along with her husband Matt and two children, Grace and Cowan. Her involvement in FFA and 4-H all through her childhood ignited a passion for agriculture and teaching others about it.

Natasha graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a B.S. and M.A. in Agricultural Education. She taught Agriculture and advised FFA Programming for 14 years in Morris, MN. In May, 2014 Natasha began her work with Riverview LLP, in Morris, MN. She works with Community Relations in the communities that Riverview touches geographically, promotes Agriculture everywhere she is able, and works with youth to build enthusiasm for agriculture.

Contact Natasha Mortenson

Connect to Minnesota FFA Foundation Website

Chris Ovrebo

Chris Ovrebo is the Director of Technology for Saint Peter Public Schools and was appointed to MAELC by Governor Dayton to serve a four-year term ending in January, 2021. Prior to working at Saint Peter, Chris was Director of Technology at Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools. Chris was also the principal at Medford High School from 2014-2017, as well as the agriculture teacher at Medford for seven years before that. He worked in a two person department that was recognized as the Outstanding Secondary Program by the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators (MAAE) and was also a Teacher’s Turn the Key Award winner.

Before entering the teaching profession, Chris worked as a commodity broker for three years and helped coordinate the statewide Teacher Induction Program (TIP) for one year while he was in graduate school. He earned a B.S. in Agricultural Industries and Marketing, an M.Ed. in Agricultural Education, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in PK-12 Administration from the University of Minnesota.

Contact Chris Ovrebo

Representative Jeanne Poppe

Representative Jeanne Poppe was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2004, and is representing district 27B in her eighth term. She is the Chair of the Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy committee. Representative Poppe also serves on the Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance, Higher Education Finance and Policy, Housing Finance and Policy, and Ways and Means committees.

Representative Poppe is also a counselor at Riverland Community College in Austin.

Contact Representative Jeanne Poppe

Connect to Representative Jeanne Poppe's Legislative Page

Senator Bill Weber

Senator Bill Weber is serving his second term as State Senator for District 22 and is the Chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy committee. He also serves on the Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance; Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance; and Environment and Natural Resources Finance committees.

Senator Weber lives in Luverne and is married with two grown children and three grandchildren. He owns Jensen Management Service, Inc. where he is a Real Estate broker, appraiser, and manger.

Contact Senator Bill Weber

Connect to Senator Bill Weber's Legislative Page

Matthew J. Wolle

Matthew J. Wolle has a B.S. in Agricultural Education from the University of Minnesota and is currently finishing his Masters of Education from the U of MN as well.

His involvement with organizations include: First Lutheran Church; Minnesota FFA & FFA Alumni; U of M Alumni Association; Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators (MAAE), Minnesota Farm Bureau - Watonwan County; Watonwan County Extension Committee; Minnesota Corn Growers Association; Minnesota Soybean Growers Association; South West Minnesota Farm Business Management Association.

Matthew farms The Grogan Ranch with his father and grandfather, raising primarily #2 yellow corn and soybeans. He is also a Seedsman with Channel Seed Brand. He lives in rural Watonwan County.

Matthew was appointed to MAELC by Governor Dayton to serve a four-year term ending in January, 2021.

Contact Matthew Wolle