Board of Directors

Patti Armbrister – Hinsdale

Patti is an Agriculture Education Teacher and FFA Adviser in Hinsdale. Her goals are to find ways to build local foods by teaching people to grow food in their communities.  She desires to live off the grid in the future by planning, setting goals and working smart.  She has a passion to teach other teachers in order to reach more students, rebuilding the life skills of being able to feed ourselves as humans on earth. Patti has been very involved with the Future Farmers of America (FFA), serving as a Hunger Hero’s Ambassador and presenting at meetings such as the 2015 Farm to School workshop. Patti is the vice-chair of the 2016-2017 AERO Board.

Grace Brogan – Missoula

Grace is determined to cultivate healthy, just communities, food systems, and environments. For over a decade, she has engaged in the fields of nonprofit program management, environmental & arts education, and sustainable farming through the lens of bringing folks together and paying close attention to one’s part a complicated system of relationships. She received her BA in Studio Art and English while studying environmental science, art, and politics, followed later by an MS in sustainable food systems and creative writing. Her interest in values-based economies led to her first season of organic farming in 2007 and an immersion in the programming and operations of a community-based nonprofit committed to teaching traditional crafts in 2008. She’s been combining these passions ever since. Grace currently works to connect producers with innovate market channels and citizens with healthy food, using education and communication as tools of action with Renewing the Countryside. Grace is the Secretary of the 2016-2017 Board.


Emily Davidson – Missoula

Emily is the Outreach Coordinator for a nonprofit used bookstore in Missoula.  A native Michigander, she has called Montana her home for over 15 years.  She has a Master’s in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana with a focus in Sustainable Food and Farming.  Emily considers herself an urban farmer, constantly asking her landlord if she can expand the gardening space, raise chickens, or build a small greenhouse.  When she’s not gardening or walking her dog Shep, she’s out hitting the trails on her mountain bike.

Lily Elison - Missoula

Lily Elison – Missoula

Lily is a fourth generation Montanan who spent her youth in the diversity and culture of Missoula. She has been an active member of the Missoula community, helping her father at the Saturday Market and playing in the cool waters of the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot. She has explored this state from the cedar groves near Libby to the prairies of the Crow Reservation. Lily participated in a interactive permaculture course in Missoula which is were she was introduced to AERO. Lily is now a student in the Geography department at the University of Montana in the last year of her Community and Environmental Planning Degree.  She is on the University Senate Sustainability Board, a member of Students for Peace and Justice and in 2016 spear headed the first AERO Student Chapter.  Lily is the youngest of the board members and has already taken action to broaden AERO’s reach to younger individuals and improve member involvement as the Community Liaison and Student Group Coordinator. As a member of the AERO board, Lily is dedicated to Montana being a thriving, clean paradise for generations.

Robin Kelson – Whitefish

Robin is the owner of the Good Seed Company, a small local heirloom seed company dedicated to helping re-establish the community practice of selecting, saving and sharing seeds for common use. A biochemist and attorney by training, she has spent over 30 years exploring human vitality, resiliency, and patterns in the natural world.




Mark Juedeman – Helena

Mark grew up on a dryland grain farm in northcentral Montana, and a ranch between Great Falls and Helena.  He moved to Houston to work for an energy company in 1980 after graduating with a degree in Earth Science from Montana State. In 1991 he and his family moved to New Orleans, where Mark was active in historic preservation, bicycle advocacy, education, the environmental non-profit The Green Project, and obtaining personal experience with renewable energy technologies such as small wind and PV.  Katrina displaced Mark and his family back to Houston, where he was involved with local food, urban sustainability, and permaculture, and where he founded Transition Houston, the 40th official Transition Initiative in the US.  Now that he is back in Montana he can help on the family ranch, while staying involved with Transition US and local sustainability initiatives. Mark looks forward working with AERO to support local regenerative agriculture, promote renewable energy, and help to build community resilience.

Jeff Pernell – Missoula

Jeff is an entrepreneur and innovator with a background in education.  He currently runs a startup company called Galactic Farms which focuses on indoor, year-round horticultural production.  The SPACE 200 (Sustainable, Probiotic, Aquaponics, Cultivation, Environment), a small demonstration system, can be seen at the Corner Store in the Lommasson Center on the University of Montana campus.  He’s now proud to be showing off the larger demonstration center and is now accepting visitors by appointment. His passion for local year-round production even in harsh climates made for a perfect paring for several small test systems he designed and built for use on the analog Mars simulation mission in Hawaii.  His focus on food, energy saving growing techniques, and use of the latest technology makes him a great match for the AERO team.


Ephie Risho - Missoula

Ephie Risho – Bozeman

Ephie, short for Ephraim, is a native Montanan who grew up appreciating creation, whether in the midst of adventures like being struck by lightning at the top of a peak or reflecting quietly next to the ripples of a lake. Over the years, living in different countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, and Taiwan, Ephie began to understand that there is more than one way to look at things, and that the status quo our society tells us is good enough is in reality quite lacking. After a BA at Middlebury College and an MDiv at Regent College, Ephie got busy working with church and youth outreach, and then a marketing job in the industry of water quality. He started a web and graphic design company in Vancouver, BC in late 2005, took a stint in the film industry, and after marrying his fantastic wife Michelle and fathering two kids, decided to move back to the homeland, Missoula, Montana. He is the director of Exit 360 Creative, a web and communications company, and a partner at Crucial Catalyst, where he represents a voice for bringing positive change in the areas of food, water, and energy in order to eradicate world poverty. He loves the wilderness, but especially loves his two little wild ones, who have come to appreciate the great outdoors too. As Ephie’s 4-year-old said last February, amidst 5-foot snow drifts, “Daddy, I want to go camping,” to which Ephie replied wistfully, “I do too. I do too.” Ephie is the Chair of the 2016-2017 Board.