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.

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.

Shay Farmer – St. Ignatius

Shay’s professional experience stems from local food system development work that she does at Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center, such as grant writing, fundraising, and program management. She is really looking to expanding her knowledge and network of  Montana organizations and individuals that work on renewable energy projects. She is particularly interested in the idea of community supported solar panels.





Trina Filan – Helena

Trina was raised in Helena during the school year and Southern California during the summer, which instilled in her a love for both the mountains and the ocean as well as a desire to travel. She has lived, studied, and worked on Long Island in New York and in Oregon, California, Panama, and Canada, pursuing her interests in gender equity, education, environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, and community resilience. She did not expect to return to Montana, but she is deeply gratified to have done so, and she looks forward reacquainting herself with this beautiful Big Sky Country.

Laura Ginsburg - St. Ignatius

Laura Ginsburg – St. Ignatius

Laura received her Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana in 2013. Her graduate work focused on food systems and agricultural policy, and her thesis studied the effects of supply management on Montana’s dairy farmers. Laura has been working in the food and farming sector since 2005, on a beef cattle ranch in Wyoming and on dairy farms in Vermont and Montana. She and her partner operate The Golden Yoke Farm and Creamery in Saint Ignatius, a dairy and diversified livestock operation. Laura is also employed as the program manager for cooperative development at Lake County Community Development Corporation in Ronan.

Paul House- Bozeman

Paul House- Bozeman

Paul is a native of Bozeman and has been an excited member of AERO since 2006.  He received a BS in hydrogeology from MSU, with an emphasis in environmental ethics, and has a long history of turning his passion for energy conservation into small businesses.  Paul started Bozeman Biofuels in 2004 and lived a [nearly] petroleum-free lifestyle for 9 years by upcycling used cooking oil.  He runs Bozeman Cottage, a green vacation rental company in Bozeman, and more recently has started Choice Energy, which focuses on solar air heating for large commercial and agricultural buildings. Struck by the concept of geologic time, an abhorrence for waste and a severe objection to financial debt, he has a long term outlook that has led to applying his tinkering skills to a colorful array of narrow-margin business ventures.  He is currently working with the Bike Kitchen to launch a bicycle rental business to serve his guest house clients. Paul spends his spare time pursuing backyard permaculture & vermicompost, electric bikes, and managing a hydroelectric project in Paradise Valley.  Paul dreams of building a living machine in a net zero home and incorporating a wide variety of carbon-negative living apparati.  When he needs recharging and more ideas he winds his way through the mountains by bike and skis.

Jim Mahnke – Kalispell

IN MEMORIAM: Jim Mahnke passed away on August 2, 2016. The AERO community is deeply grateful for his service and his wisdom, and will miss this wonderful man.

Jim, a native of Washington state, went to school in Leavenworth, Vancouver, and Spokane before he got a scholarship to Harvard College, where he majored in History and Literature, graduating in 1955. He went to medical school at the University of Washington, Seattle, did a surgical internship at the University of Minnesota, then went back to Seattle for a neurosurgical residency. He served as faculty for a year at the Medical College of Virginia, for two years at Yale Medical School, then fifteen years at the University of California, Irvine. He was in private practice in Orange County, then Durango, Colorado. He retired in 1989 to Kalispell where he pursued interests in energy and creating resilient communities.

Katie Neskey – St. Ignatius

Katie graduated from the University or Pittsburgh with a degree in Psychology and Social work and then served 27 months in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. She came to Montana in 2011 and served two years with FoodCorps at Kalispell Public Schools. While there, KPS integrated local food into their meal programs, made the switch to local beef, built their first school garden, and put in an orchard. Katie previously served on the board of Farm Hands – Nourish the Flathead and on the Montana Partnership to End Childhood Hunger Committee. Currently, she is working at Salish Kootenai College with Extension and the Community Health and Development Department. This summer, she and her husband, Larry, started a farm in St. Ignatius called Awesome Acres. They plan to raise pastured heritage pork and chickens.

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.


Paul Reichert - Bozeman

Paul Reichert – Bozeman


A long time Montana resident and MSU earth science grad, Paul has worked for statewide non-profit organizations (including AERO).  He has served as the executive director for the Helena and Bozeman downtown business districts, and as the agency director managing the state historic sites and visitor programs in Virginia City.  He currently works for the Yellowstone Park Foundation, which supports projects that protect and enhance Yellowstone Park.


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 3-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.”