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Dovetail Partners Announces Ashley McFarland as Executive Director

McFarland brings expertise in water resources, ag research, and best management practices

(Minneapolis, MN) - Dovetail Partners, a Minneapolis-based environmental non-profit, is pleased to announce the addition of Ashley McFarland as executive director. McFarland brings expertise in water resources, agronomic research, and program management. She has nearly 15 years of extension experience across multiple states, so she understands first-hand the importance of delivering research to support informed decision-making. 

Most recently, Ashley served as the Director of the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) where she managed a diverse research portfolio spanning across multiple agricultural sectors. "Our primary research focus was to identify soil health building practices that would enhance on-farm productivity and profitability, even with the very challenging soil and climate conditions in the region," says McFarland. That included research on integrated crop and livestock production, educational programming on enhancing food security through new farmer development, and the utilization of regenerative agriculture practices throughout the operation. "When I assumed leadership at the station, it had just undergone a realignment of research priorities so it was my job to ensure relevancy of our work to our stakeholders and to actively secure financial resources to support that work." Another exciting initiative she became involved in was the re-establishment of malting barley as a viable crop in Michigan to support the burgeoning local craft beer industry.

McFarland also served as the northern Idaho water quality extension educator for University of Idaho Extension where she actively participated in multi-disciplinary watershed projects seeking to restore watershed health and function. She established a voluntary water quality monitoring program and supported Logger Education to Advance Professionalism (LEAP), a forestry certification program in Idaho stressing the importance of forestry best management practices to sustain water quality. "The experience I gained out west in very actively managed forests is a great strength to my new role with Dovetail Partners who has a long history of high quality work in the forestry sector," stated Ashley.

In her new role, McFarland hopes to bring her expertise in program development in the agricultural and water quality realm to diversify Dovetail Partner's portfolio. "My passion lies at the intersection of supporting farmers and supporting water quality. I want to engage in thoughtful development of research and practices to sustain our agrarian landscape while restoring health throughout our watersheds." 

"Adding Ashley's expertise to the Dovetail team creates exciting new opportunities and illustrates our commitment to ensuring we serve diverse economic, environmental, and community needs across the landscapes and issues that we work in," said Kathryn Fernholz, President of Dovetail Partners. 

McFarland will be based out of Duluth, MN where she resides with her husband and two children.

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