January E-news:
Leaning into 2020 with appreciation, optimism and resiliency

Welcome to the first month of this new decade!  Wow!

In so many ways things can feel uncertain and downright unsustainable right now. We’re grateful for all the grassroots work done by AERO in its 45-year history, along with all of Montana’s sustainability organizations, creating a fabric of systems, tools and community platforms that provide a clear vision and path forward toward greater sustainability in these roller coaster times.Makes us hopeful as we enter 2020, and excited for all the possibilities for continuing to build a sustainable Montana together!
Here’s what’s new
in January


Match Challenge Update! 

Thanks to all our supporters, we are now just $3,575 away from our EOY Match Challenge goal!   To help us hit our $45,000 mark, two generous donors have offered a matching funds challenge totaling $15,000 if we can reach our goal by midnight January 05, 2020.

We are SO close! Please help us reach our goal by giving today!

What does the Match Challenge mean for you? It means every dollar you give TODAY goes twice as far!  Here’s how it works:

Ever worry that your funds won’t have an impact?

Rest assured. Your gift today, large or small, will have a direct and immediate impact on programming that builds values-based community food systems across Montana while also making sustainable agriculture more profitable, resilient and adaptive in a time of disruptive weather.

YOU can make a difference in your community’s future by giving now.

Give Today and Double Your Impact

Statewide presence for a statewide organization!

Helena office.  Come see our new digs! Last month we moved the AERO headquarters to 32 S Ewing St, Ste 333, Helena. Kate McLean, AERO’s Office Manager, holds office hours Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 9AM-4PM.  In her Interim Co-ED capacity, Robin Kelson splits her time between the Helena office and nurturing a North Flathead regional AERO presence.  Robin is available by appointment in both Helena and the North Flathead area.


Bozeman-Area Office: This January, AERO launches a Bozeman-area regional office, taking advantage of our remote organizational structure. Our 2020 Board of Directors has three fabulous new members from Bozeman (meet our new board  members below), and Co-ED Lindsay Ganong works about 20% of the time in a Bozeman co-working space.

Regional office impact:

  • Support consistent member engagement with regional events and gatherings. With Lindsay and Board members in the Bozeman area, we have the perfect opportunity to grow AERO membership and engagement in the Gallatin Valley area.
  •  Bozeman AERO members and friends stay engaged with AERO events planned by AERO staff, board members and volunteers
  • Stay tuned for opportunities to continue the momentum from Expo 2019! AERO will be hosting events this spring to build on conversations about food equity & access, community-based food systems, and building on-farm resiliency, including on-farm renewable energy resources.
 We look forward to including you all in rolling out a robust statewide AERO presence in the months ahead.
REMINDER! Friday, January 3 is the deadline for submitting comments to the Public Service Commission
NorthWestern Energy has submitted its 20-year Electricity Supply Procurement Plan to the Public Service Commission. The Plan is the first step in building four new fracked gas facilities in Montana by 2025, with no plans for renewable energy generation, and intentions to procure dirty and costly coal energy from Colstrip power plant for the next 20 years. The Public Service Commission needs to hear from you. Watch the training webinar that AERO created on December 3 at a live and remote access meeting in Helena in partnership with Northern Plains Resource Council and Montana Environmental Information Center to prepare ratepayers (You!) to read public comment before the commission at a hearing on Dec 9 in Helena. The public hearings are over but there is still time to comment until January 3. Watch the webinar to learn more about the plan, the public service commission, and how your comment can change energy procurement in Montana. For more information, read AERO’s official comment filing and MEIC’s fact sheet. Submit your comment with subject line indicating “comment regarding docket 2019.08.052” to psc_utilitycomment@mt.gov BY FRIDAY, JANUARY 3.Grow Montana Coalition
AERO sits on the steering committee for Grow Montana, our state’s food policy coalition.  Grow Montana formed in 2005, funded by the Kellogg and High Stakes Foundations, to strengthen Montana’s food and agricultural economies and advocate for the well-being of all Montanans, with powerful and positive results.Since the Kellogg Foundation funding completed in 2007, Grow Montana has been housed by NCAT and AERO through the intervening years. The current steering committee includes AERO, National Center for Appropriate Technologies (Butte, MT), Lake County Community Development Corporation (Ronan, MT), Community Food and Agriculture Coalition (Missoula MT), and Salish Kootenai College Extension (Pablo, MT).Grow Montana stakeholders gathered at AERO Expo 2019 and set the date for a strategic planning session on January 7, 2020 to identify specific policy priorities & funding needs. Our partner, NCAT, will host the meeting at their Butte, MT headquartersStay tuned for results of the January 7th meeting!




***  AERO launches a new website in 2020! ***




Meet The New Members of AERO’s 2019-2020 Board of Directors! 

Madison Boone, Bozeman, is the Program and Communications Manager for the Montana Institute on Ecosystems (IoE) at MSU in Bozeman. Originally from Oklahoma, Madison developed a passion for sustainable agriculture and local food systems after working on an organic vegetable farm in Arkansas and the Heifer International-owned Heifer Farm in Massachusetts, where she helped holistically manage their livestock. Madison came to Montana through the Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) Program in 2016, through which she served in Bozeman with the non-profit One Montana and MSU-Extension Service in Gallatin County on projects related to agriculture, water, and climate change. She began working for the IoE in late 2017 in her current role and continues to help with research projects related to climate and agriculture while also working to bring together interdisciplinary groups to address environmental and natural resources challenges in Montana. She is excited to serve on the AERO Board to help build support for the organization and its programs and ultimately work towards a more resilient, sustainable vision of agriculture in the state.

Andrew Crowe, Bozeman, attended MSU, completing his degree in Cell Biology and Neuroscience. He has a diverse occupational background, recently he resigned from the medical field to gain a deeper understanding in the relationship between production and consumption in the food industry.  Andrew’s generalist perspective uprooted his ability to accept the social norms in medicine, agriculture, energy, and community. His intentions have been directed towards circumventing conventional practices to allow for more resilient, regenerative solutions to be realized, with insight from biomimicry, social neuroscience, personal experience and curiosity. He enjoys making, learning, conversations of substance, gardening, designing and fly fishing.

Robin Kelson has stepped down from the board. The Board of Directors elected Erin Carroll, also of Bozeman, to fill Robin’s position. Look for Erin’s bio in our upcoming Winter Sun Times!




Announcements/Area Items of Interest

 NCAT Soil Health Innovations Conference Bozeman, March 30-31 
The conference will be held at Montana State University in the heart of Bozeman, Montana. Join producers, educators, and students from around the region and across the country as our panelists, keynotes, roundtables and forums address the hard questions about soil health and the future of agriculture from the standpoint of researcher, industry professional, and producer. The conference will be live streamed nationally to land grant universities and their college affiliates as well as include a national student poster board competition that will address the same content as the conference.

MT Department of Ag Produce Safety Inspector Position Helena, MT
Apply by Jan 10

Key responsibilities of this position include:

  • Developing inspection protocol, frequency, forms, and producer resources associated with FSMA Produce Safety inspections in the initial phases of the regulatory implementation of the Produce Safety Rule
  • Planning, scheduling and conducting inspections with producers, handlers, processors and wholesale/retail establishments to ensure that commodities and food are produced, handled, and labeled in compliance with relevant program standards
  • Assisting in preparing, conducting, and evaluating Produce Safety Grower Training courses for produce growers. This position will serve on the training team and participate in meetings related to FSMA Produce Safety education and outreach.

CFAC is hiring a Program Coordinator Missoula, MT
Apply by Jan 13

Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) seeks applications for a Program Coordinator to provide support for project partners, develop outreach and communication plans for projects, and create and distribute promotional materials for our Food Access (FA) and Beginning Farmer and Rancher (BFR) Programs. Specifically, this position supports the planning, delivery and evaluation of BFR events and Farm Link Montana services (.5 FTE) and implementation of Double SNAP Dollars at participating sites in Missoula and surrounding areas (.5 FTE). The Program Coordinator will work out of the CFAC office in Missoula, MT.

National Farm to School Network Remote, USA
Apply by January 15

NFSN is seeking a Program Fellow to support multiple aspects of NFSN’s programmatic initiatives aimed at advancing and institutionalizing farm to school, with a focus on farm to early care and education (ECE) settings. The fellow will gain experience in resource creation, project evaluation, virtual networking and facilitation, and partner capacity building. This is a twelve-month, temporary position with a projected start date of February 10, 2020. The Program Fellow will report directly to the Senior Program Manager and work approximately 10 hours per week. Learn more here. To apply for this position, submit resume, cover letter, and writing sample to jobs@farmtoschool.org with “Program Fellow” in the subject line.Thank You!
Thank you all for being our inspiration, for providing shape and purpose to AERO’s work in 2019, and hope, optimism and resiliency for 2020. We envision this coming year spent working with you and your friends and neighbors across Montana, building resilient, community-powered local food systems  – if you eat, you’re in! 



Keep Building a Sustainable Montana



Alternative Energy Resources Organization

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena MT 59624-1558

Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #314, Helena MT 59601