Carolyn Kerchof has joined the LandPKS family as Program Coordinator. Her background is in communication, design, writing, and project management. Carolyn will be helping the team with outreach, app design, and program administration. Having lived in Switzerland for seven years, she has made a name for herself as the founder of the intergenerational storytelling and inclusive design magazine Zeitgeist.

She also worked as a communication and research assistant at ETH Zurich. She holds an MA in the History and Philosophy of Knowledge from ETH Zurich, an MA in Design from the Zurich University of the Arts, and a BA in English from George Washington University. When she isn’t working at LandPKS, she makes zines, goes on hikes, and cooks elaborate dinners with the vegetables from her CSA box.

This month, LandPKS welcomes Meghan Mize as our new Global Coordinator. Meghan has more than eight years of experience in international agriculture and program management. She also has a background in horticulture, agronomy, agriculture extension, value chain development, and communications.

Meghan began her career in international agriculture as a Peace Corps Volunteer in northern Senegal where she served as an agricultural extension agent working alongside smallholder farmers on field crop extension and community gardening. After Peace Corps, Meghan worked in Washington D.C. for several years managing and designing USAID and USDA programs in value chain development, cold chain development, sustainable agricultural production, and livelihoods in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa. Meghan’s next role was based in Niger carrying out a USAID-funded program supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture, water, and environmental sectors. She also has experience working with horticulture production and marketing in Cambodia. She holds an MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis and a BA in Development Studies from UC Berkeley.

Meghan Mize

Meghan is excited about supporting the growth and development of LandPKS. She is passionate about data-driven sustainable agriculture, soil health, and community-led development. She looks forward to getting to know our partners implementing the app globally and to collaborate with our stakeholders in this phase of the LandPKS app development.

Dr. Amy Quandt joined the LandPKS project as the Global Coordinator two years ago.  At the end of May, we will have to say goodbye to Amy as she moves off to a new position. Starting in August, Amy will be joining the faculty of the Department of Geography at San Diego State University as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Geography. At San Diego State University, Amy is looking forward to continuing her work on the impacts of technology on agricultural productivity and sustainable land management.

Amy (left) and others at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development creating a one-day LandPKS Training

Amy (left) and others at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development creating a one-day LandPKS Training.

During her time with LandPKS, Amy has played a critical role in enhancing the development of the app and worked closely with our partners implementing the app globally. Amy worked on the Land Capability Classification features, as well as the soon-to-be released LandManagement Module. Amy also worked to enhance the LandCover and LandInfo outputs delivered on the phone to users.

Internationally, during her two years with LandPKS Amy has made 7 trips to Africa, including Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Working with the World Agroforestry Center, Amy helped to hire our Ethiopia and Tanzania Country Coordinators. She has also done extensive pilot testing of the LandPKS app with farmers, land use planners, and pastoralists in Africa.

Amy is sad to leave the LandPKS team but we wish her the best in her future endeavors.  You can keep up with her work on her website

Maximilian Contreras is a recent Graduate from New Mexico State University. He has a Bachelor’s of individualized study in music and theatre and intends to pursue a masters of archival records administration. His background work experience includes customer service and media library management as well as record keeping and administrative assistance. His family owns farmland in Chihuahua, Mexico with crops of both wheat and alfalfa. The Contreras family also tends to a small apple and pear orchard. Max is excited to assist in developing the LandPKS app in hopes that it will not only improve crop yield for his family in the future, but also many other farms around the globe.

Please join us in welcoming him to our LandPKS family!

On March 7th, the LandPKS Team hosted a LandPKS Field Day at the Jornada Experimental Range, just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. The Jornada Experimental Range has served as a field research laboratory since 1912 for long term agricultural and ecological research. The first goal of the field day was to have the LandPKS team go through the entire LandPKS app – including both current and future modules and features. In addition, the second goal was to obtain feedback from specialists and technical experts outside the core LandPKS team. Joining the team for the field day was ecologist Laura Burkett, biological science technician Kirsten Romig, post-doctoral researcher Erica Christensen, and Science Education Specialist with the Asombro Institute of Science Education Ryan Pemberton.

LandPKS soil and range experts Shawn Salley and George Peacock led the group through the existing LandInfo and LandCover modules within the LandPKS app. These two modules are designed to walk the user through collecting soils and vegetation data. We also used and collected feedback on the soon-to-be released SoilID feature that matches the user’s soil inputs with soils mapped in the same area. George Peacock also walked the group through the SoilHealth module that is in development and next on our list to be programmed into the app.

People using LandPKS at the Jornada Field Day

Right: Shawn Salley measuring our soil pit to collect soil samples at different depths. Left: Laura Burkett using LandPKS.

Due to the afternoon wind and dust storm which is typical for this time of year in Las Cruces, after a picnic lunch we finished the day at the Jornada Experimental Range headquarters where Amy Quandt led the group through the soon-to-be released LandManagement module. This module aims to provide farmers with an easy record keeping tool to manage their farm inputs and outputs. We finished the day with a feedback session to discuss possible future revisions to the LandPKS app.

The LandPKS app is free and available on the Google Play Store and iTunes Store. The LandPKS app was developed by the LandPKS Team for the Land Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) with support from USAID and USDA-ARS. Please contact us with any questions, comments, or feedback.

Amy Quandt walking the group through collecting vegetation information with the LandCover module

Amy Quandt walking the group through collecting vegetation information with the LandCover module.