Board of Directors
Charles Francis is Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska — Lincoln, and Visiting Professor of Agroecology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. His degrees are from Univ California — Davis (B.S.) and Cornell Univ. (M.S. and Ph.D.), and he has worked in Philippines, Colombia, and Norway. He directed a dryland agriculture program in Morocco (1982-1984), initiated the international program for Rodale Institute (1984-85), and was director of the Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems at UNL (1990-2000). He was on the board of directors of The Land Institute, Salina, Kansas for 15 years, and has been active with Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska. He has held research, teaching, extension and administrative positions at UNL from 1977 to present. He is author of 200 reviewed journal articles, 80 book chapters, 8 books, and numerous proceedings and workshops publications. His research interests are in long-term cropping and farming systems, local food systems, peri-urban farming, and crop rotations; teaching includes agroecology, organic farming, urbanization of rural landscapes, international seminars, and land grabs in the global south.
David Van Pelt, grew up on a farm near Archer Nebraska. After graduating from high school in Central City, Nebraska he went on to obtain a degree in Agriculture Education at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. He currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska where he works as an ag lender for a family owned community bank, Midwest Bank N.A.. Prior to moving to Lincoln he spent approximately 27 years as a bank officer at Pinnacle Bank where he worked with the Grain Place and Grain Place Foods. He serves a Board Treasurer.
Chuck Hassebrook spent his career at the Center for Rural Affairs, a national rural advocacy and development organization based in the Northeast Nebraska community of Lyons. He served with the Center for over 36 years, including 18 as the Executive Director. His work was crucial in securing the passage of state and federal policy reforms that strengthen family farms, small business, and rural communities. During his time at the Center, they have provided loans, training, and business-planning assistance to over 10,000 small businesses in rural Nebraska.
Chuck also served 18 years as a Regent for the University of Nebraska, including two terms as Chair. His efforts led to tuition assistance for students from modest income families and the creation of a Rural Futures Institute, aimed at revitalizing small communities.
Chuck currently serves on the Board of the USDA North Central Region Rural Development Center, and has previously served on the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, USDA Commission on Small Farms, and the Board of Bread for the World, a Christian ecumenical anti-hunger organization based in Washington.
Chuck is a University of Nebraska graduate and native of Platte Center, where his family has farmed for more than a century. He lives with his wife, Kate, in Lyons, where they are active in Bethany Lutheran Church. They have two sons, Anton and Peter, both students at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
Allison Vetter is Associate Professor of Sociology at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. She has and currently serves on boards of several non-profit organizations in the arts, education and women’s issues in north central Arkansas. Allison was raised on the Grain Place and continues to have an active interest its operations. She is a shareholder in the Grain Place and has pledged to contribute shares to Grain Place Foundation. She serves as Board Secretary.
Glenda Vetter is a retired Social Worker from Grand Island, NE having served as a school social worker, hospital social worker and in private counseling practice. She has served on several non-profit boards in Hall County Nebraska. She spent part of her childhood on the farm that became the Grain Place. She and her husband, Charlie Ponec, have devoted much volunteer time helping develop the Grain Place, including planting many trees, keeping bees on the property, and assisting with care of the buildings. She is a current shareholder of the Grain Place and has pledged to contribute shares to Grain Place Foundation.
Jay Vetter is a retired United Methodist Pastor who spent 42 years serving congregations in Nebraska. He spent part of his childhood on the farm that would become the Grain Place. He has served on many non-profit boards in several Nebraska Communities. He is a current shareholder of Grain Place and has pledged to contribute shares to Grain Place Foundation. He serves as volunteer Executive Director.
Thomas Harding has over 40 years in organic agriculture and trade. He was a Founder and President of Lehigh Valley Organic Growers, Inc., Founder and First President of the Organic Crop Improvement Association, Co-Founder and First President Institute of Alternative Agriculture, Founding Member and First President Organic Trade Association, Board Member and President International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, and Founder and President The Brice Institute. He serves as Board President.