Robin Kelson, Executive Director

Robin joined AERO’s staff in 2020 after two terms on the AERO Board of Directors. She is a graduate of the Leadership Montana Flagship Class of 2023. An attorney, biochemist and facilitator by training and an information synthesizer by nature, Robin has worked with both start-up and established businesses, and held executive positions in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Her passion and curiosity focuses on human vitality and the inherent resiliency in evolution and ecosystems, and this has led her career choices in the sustainable energy, stewardship agriculture and nutritional health fields for over 20 years.

Email Robin at

Drew Shanafelt, Director of Operations

Drew is a western Washingtonian turned Montanan, and a former AERO Board member. A competitive ultimate Frisbee athlete. An aspiring reformer of modern society looking for ways to make people happier and healthier. A lover of food and the culture behind it. Drew dreams about a food system that is healthy for people, regenerative for our planet, accessible to all, community based, and powered by renewable energy. Abundant Montana has an essential role in building this food system in Montana, and it has never been more important that we do so. Email Drew at

Erin Austin, Director of Community Partners and Sales

Erin believes growing, cooking, and sharing food in community heals. Her diverse career path has always centered on sustainability and equity. She brings experience working on organic farms, managing school meal programs, researching transit oriented development, advocating for sustainable agriculture policy, and directing nature-based therapeutic trauma programs. She believes that through a process of reconnecting to our internal environment, our communities, and the outdoors, we can restore balance with nature, pursue ambitious solutions to climate change, and lead joy-filled, sustainable lives. Erin holds a B.A. in Global Development Studies with a minor in Global Sustainability from the University of Virginia and a 200 hour yoga teacher certification. Erin is a former AERO Board member. Email Erin at:

Sammie McGowan, Director of Marketing and Communications

Sammie is Abundant Montana’s Assistant Director. After graduating from the George Washington University with a BA concentrating in marketing and international business, she set her sights on conquering Corporate America. When that failed to fulfill her, she moved to Alaska to become a hiking guide in Denali National Park where she found her passion for caring for the earth and all its inhabitants. As a Sustainability Educator for the Whitefish School District’s Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, she found a passion for growing healthy food, creating healthy soil, and making healthy food accessible for all people. She is excited to use her marketing background to fulfill Abundant Montana’s Founding Principles, which perfectly align with all her passions! When she isn’t creating content for Abundant Montana, you can find her hiking with her dog, Charlie, rock climbing, or tending to her backyard garden! Email Sammie at:

Gillian Thornton Andrews, Outreach and Member Relations Manager

Gillian is a beginning farmer and rancher in the Jocko Valley. She is the co-owner of Thunder Road Farm in Arlee, MT, which produces grass-finished beef and U-pick raspberries. Foundational to the farm are three main concepts: improving the ecological integrity of the land in our care, treating our animals well and with respect, and providing healthy, nourishing food to our community. Before turning to farming, Gillian studied Anthropology at the University of Oregon, and received an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. She worked as a place-based educator in Missoula for seven years, where she got to explore and share the wonders of the natural and built world with children. She enjoys exploring the mountains behind her farm, getting to know new places, and pampering her chickens. Email Gillian at:

Randi Rae Wing, Nakoda Aaniiih EDC Food Sovereignty Coordinator


Amba Wastae. This means “Hello” in my Language. My name is Randi Rae Wing, soon-to-be Randi Rae Fetter. I am from the Fort Belknap Reservation and am a Proud Member of the Assiniboine Nation. My Indian Name is White Snow Woman and I am a proud Mother of 2 daughters and 4 step children. I am currently attending college pursuing a Business Degree with a passion for bookkeeping. I just received my Master Gardener certificate. In my spare time, I quilt my Mother’s Star blankets that she sews and I love baking cake pops, which is an art in itself. I am excited to have joined the AERO team and am excited to share my culture and explore the thought of food sovereignty in our area. Email Randi at:

Sam Blomquist, Cottage Food Program Manager


Sam grew up chasing chickens, pigs, sheep and goats around her family’s farm on the front range of Colorado. She counts herself lucky to have spent her career digging trails across the Pacific Northwest, Idaho and Alaska; backpacking with at-risk youth throughout Montana; growing vegetables in the Gallatin Valley; and most recently in nonprofit administration. 

Sam holds a BS from University of Montana in Resource Conservation and a MS from Montana State University in Nutrition and Sustainable Food Systems and is a Registered Dietitian. She believes deeply in the connection between food, agriculture, health, and community and is delighted to be part of the AERO team as the Cottage Food Program Manager. For details on AERO’s cottage food programming, email Sam at:

Emilee Wood, Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana

Emilee grew up in the eastern woodlands of the Midwest, but she and her husband now call the southwestern Montana mountains “home”. She received her BA from Ball State University, with Majors in Anthropology and English, and a minor in Linguistics.

Through her degree and time abroad, Emilee developed an interest in elevating the stories and voices of others, particularly those which challenge ideas by presenting  “counter-narratives.”

She believes that food and land are a powerful means of constructing identity and community, and that cultivating a reciprocal relationship with the land will result in a future in which all parties flourish.

She can often be found with her hands, and feet, in the dirt, enjoys creating with grown and gathered materials, and receives satisfaction from sharing homegrown food and flowers with the people she loves.

Michal DeChellis, Montana Food Economy Initiative Program Manager & Local Food Coordinator (Southwestern Montana)

Michal is a food systems consultant with a background in public health, farm to school, and program and project management. Michal is passionate about building an equitable and humane food system and promoting healthy and vibrant individuals, communities, and ecosystems. For information about AERO’s MFEI program contact Michal at:

Clare Jurczak, Billings Community Food System Assessment Coordinator

Clare is AERO’s Billings Community Food System Assessment Coordinator. Clare hails from Alaska where she grew up subsistence fishing and hunting and first developed her love for connecting with people through food. While earning her degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, Clare was introduced to farming at the student PEAS farm and was instantly hooked on growing vegetables. Now living in the rural town of Ballantine, Clare continues to grow, harvest, and cook food for her friends and is learning to raise livestock under the mentorship of her ranching neighbors. With a varied background of natural resource work in Alaska fisheries and environmental education with the Bureau of Land Management, Clare has always valued sustainability and environmental stewardship. Her vision of an equitable food system for Montana is one that embraces ecological and cultural diversity and allows communities to self-actualize sustainable food production practices. Clare is thrilled to be working with AERO to help grow the local food economy in Yellowstone County and surrounding areas. Email Clare at

Angela Miller, Local Food Coordinator (Northeast Montana)

Angela is the Local Food Coordinator for Northeastern Montana and resides on a ranch southwest of Culbertson with her husband and two children. She is also the manager for the Roosevelt County Fair in Culbertson. Angela studied Animal Science, Meat Science, and Agricultural Education through Reedley College and Fresno State and has a passion for telling the stories of all facets of agriculture. Angela is a former agriculture teacher and believes in the importance of educating about all food systems and sharing information about where they come from.  She also enjoys designing and crafting for the western industry, as well as traveling and going to concerts and live music any time she can.

Angela is excited to collaborate with and learn more about producers in the Northeast Montana region and to help promote the Beef To School Program in the area. Email Angela at:



Board of Directors

Sophie Albert, Whitefish

Sophie Albert is the Executive Director at the North Valley Food Bank in Whitefish, MT, where she is working on shifting the focus from traditional emergency food assistance to providing more holistic services and building a strong community food system with abundant access to fresh, nutritious and local food for all. Sophie has more than 10 years of non-profit experience managing educational and social service programs in Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and the US.

Sophie is a passionate advocate for socially just systems and resilient communities. Prior to building food security in North-West Montana, Sophie served as the Director for Refugee Programs at The Alliance in Houston, Texas, where she led the Covid-19 response for local refugee and immigrant communities. She holds a Master of Disaster Management from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Sophie is originally from Germany and her family is home in a small farming community in the Lusatian Mountains on the southeastern border with Czech Republic and Poland. She moved to the US in 2016 to join her husband, Chris, after meeting him overseas. In her free time, Sophie loves swimming, snowboarding, writing, rummaging the local bookstore, and exploring the beauty of Montana with her tiny daughter, Frankie, her husband and their dog, Einstein.

Ada Smith, Ph.D., Missoula

Interim Board Chair, Secretary

Growing up on a small farmstead in rural Wisconsin and summers on her grandparents ranch in Montana were formative in developing Ada’s interest in food systems that connect and sustain people and places. Ada is an environmental social scientist and recently finished her PhD at the University of Montana where she worked with ranchers to understand how adaptive rangeland management practices are being utilized to support ecological and economic sustainability in Montana. Currently, she is a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University working on research with ranchers across the U.S. to understand linkages between economic, social, and ecological well-being across different grazing management strategies. Ada also has a background in community-based participatory research from her MA at the University of British Columbia where she worked in partnership with Gitxaala Nation to understand and support the integration of Indigenous knowledge into educational curriculum as a pathway toward community food sovereignty. Ada seldom says ‘no’ to adventure and learning new ways to move through landscapes — she is especially excited about developing her recently acquired skills in hunting in order to harvest more of her own food here in Montana.

Jeremy Nadison, Bozeman


Jeremy joins the AERO board with seven years of sustainable infrastructure investment and regional food system development and lending experience. After beginning his career at Ultra Capital, a project finance investment firm, Jeremy has spent the last few years supporting his regional food system through land access, processing infrastructure, and financing projects. Jeremy is now a member of the Steward team where he focuses on financial underwriting and improving community-led financing access to farmers, ranchers, and other small food systems companies. 

Jeremy lives in Bozeman and loves spending time in the mountains of Southwest Montana.  

Rob Byron, MD, MPH, Hardin

Robert is an internist who lives in Hardin, Montana. He received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, served four years as an officer in the US Navy, before then earned his MD from the University of Louisville.   Following residency at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, he moved to Hardin where he worked on the Crow Reservation for over two decades. After retiring from the Indian Health Service Dr. Byron worked as a hospitalist in Billings and helped start Bighorn Valley Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Hardin. He was appointed to the Montana Board of Environmental Review in 2015 and is a former governor of the Montana Chapter of the American College of Physicians. With Lori, his wife, he is co-chair of the Citizens Climate Lobby Health Team and helped start Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. He is one of the lead authors of the recently released “Climate Change and Human Health in Montana” report. He has been a strong advocate for sustainability, environmental justice and climate change issues at the state and national level.

Alternative Energy Resources Organization

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

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