Our Community

Love for the land, our families, our friends and our food – that’s what fuels our CommonGround community. Scroll down to learn where our volunteers are located, or Contact Us to get involved.

CommonGround Iowa

Rachel Binning

Clive, Iowa

My Work: scientist, wife, dog mom

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, gardening, photography, reading, writing

Ask Me About: biotechnology/GMOs

About Me: I work at Corteva Agriscience as a scientist. I manage regulatory authorizations for soybean and canola genetically modified seed traits. There is a lot of misinformation about agriculture technology, and I want to help people find answers and feel confident about food in the U.S.

Instagram: @grywhp

Twitter: @grywhp


Aimee Bissell

Bedford, Iowa

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, mom, wife, respiratory therapist

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, photography, travel

Ask Me About: family farms versus corporate farms

About Me: My husband, our two boys and I grow corn and soybeans in southwest Iowa. I also serve as a registered respiratory therapist for Montgomery County Memorial Hospital. I believe we should all have access to truthful information when making our food decisions and am passionate about sharing good food facts with consumers to help make these decisions easier.

Facebook: Farms Bissell; Aimee Bissell

Kellie Blair

Dayton, Iowa

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, pigs, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, watershed coordinator

My Hobbies: blogging, movies, reading, yard work

Ask Me About: biotechnology, sustainability and conservation, family farms vs. corporate farms

About Me: On our farm, my husband and I strive for continual improvement of our soil and water quality. I think it is great that consumers want to know where their food comes from. Eating healthy is important to me and how I feed my family. I believe we have safe sustainable choices in the U.S. While I devote a lot of my free time working with numerous agriculture organizations and initiatives, my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family and play with my kids.

Website: Home Again Finnegan

Facebook: Home Again Finnegan

Twitter: @BlairKellie

Lynn Bolin

Clarksville, Iowa

Our Farm: dairy

My Work: farmer, homeschool mom, wife, GuestBarn host

My Hobbies: singing, traveling, writing, people — from strangers to family

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, hormones in meat and milk, farm ownership

About Me: My husband, #DairymanDan, and I take care of 150 dairy cows alongside his parents. I host people at our GuestBarn, a unique vacation rental attached to our dairy barn, giving guests a 24/7 bird’s-eye view of our cows. As a big-city girl turned farmer, I’m learning new things about agriculture and our food (and much more!) every day. Sharing those experiences and learning from others’ experiences is one of my favorite things to do. I love that together we can build trust and a better world by having real conversations with, not at, each other!

Facebook: New Day Dairy GuestBarn

Instagram: @lynn.newdaydairy

Website: www.newdaydairy.com

Paula Ellis

Donnellson , Iowa

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, mom, wife

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, cooking, walking, reading

Ask Me About: family farms versus corporate farms, sustainability, conservation practices

About Me: My husband and I farm on my family’s farm and rent our land. We’re very proud of our efforts toward conservation and caring for the land, water and air. In 2019, I was named the Conservation Farmer of the Year in Iowa. If farmers don’t lead the conversation about how food is raised, someone else might — and it may not be accurate. I want to lead the conversation about the good things we’re doing on our farm.


Stephanie Haywood

Albia, Iowa

Name: Stephanie Haywood

Our Farm: beef cattle, show calves, goats, pony

My Work:  farmer, wife, mom, small-business owner

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, showing cattle, traveling, writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, farm ownership, food prices

About Me: My husband and I run a beef cattle farm. I recently retired from an off-farm job to be home full time with my four kiddos and help more on the farm. I also own a farm-based boutique designing T-shirts and jewelry. I want to help people understand what it means to run a family farm. I love helping other moms see the importance of knowing where and how our food is raised.

Facebook: Stephanie Haywood, Mama’s Farmhouse Designs

Instagram: mamas.farmhousedesigns

Paige Hepp

Rockwell City, Iowa

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: meal prep, help haul the auger/seed tender/seed when needed; and I have an off the farm job at an Ag Marketing Agency

My Hobbies: antiquing, baking, cooking, movies, photography, singing, travel

Ask Me About: sustainability

About Me:

I was raised on a century farm in Southwest Iowa as a fourth-generation agriculturalist. I have moved to North Central Iowa with my husband who is in the process of a farm transition/succession plan with a local farmer. Speaking to the public about our farming practices allows for transparency between farmers and consumers. By sharing our truth, I hope that consumers will celebrate their choices at the grocery store and support their local farmers.

Instagram: @paige_hepp

Alicia Humphrey

Audubon, Iowa

Our Farm: hogs

My Work: public relations

My Hobbies: biking, hiking, running

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, family farms versus corporate farms

About Me: I grew up on a fifth-generation diversified livestock farm in southeast Wisconsin. My favorite part of the farm was raising pigs, which led me to my career in agriculture communications. Consumers have a lot of information to sort through when it comes to food and agriculture. As a farmer, I believe it is important for us to share our experiences of growing food with consumers to help ease the uncertainty around the agriculture industry.

Instagram: @Ahumphrey14

Twitter: @Ahumphrey14

Amber Kohlhaas

Algona, Iowa

Our Farm: corn, soybeans, club cattle, breeding cattle, beef cattle

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, agri-marketer, agriculture advocate

My Hobbies: animals, farming, photography, writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, food safety, sustainability

About Me: I am a born and raised “FarmHer.” I grew up on a grain and livestock family farm in north-central Iowa, where I am actively involved today. My husband and I have spent the past 10 years growing corn, soybeans, as well as owning a quality cattle operation. We raise cows alongside their calves for various purposes. By day, I work in Agri-marketing and proudly steward brands that I believe in. By night, I am a steward of land and livestock. In all facets of our farm operation, our goal is to leave it better than it was before. It is such a privilege to be a farmer, and I feel it’s our job to arm consumers with knowledge to make purchasing decisions for their family. I love utilizing social platforms to connect agriculture with new audiences, such as offering little slices of farm life through stories and videos.

Facebook: Amber Lonnevik KohlhaasPro Tour Cattle Sale

Instagram: @amberkohlhaas

Twitter: @amberkohlhaas

Website: www.kohlhaascattleco.com

Lisa Kubik

Traer, Iowa

Our Farm: alfalfa, corn, beef cattle, meat goats, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, animal care manager, field manager for the Soil Health Partnership

My Hobbies: baking, biking, blogging, cooking, horseback riding, kayaking, photography, overall fitness, running, skiing, writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, family farms versus corporate farms, food prices, food safety, hormones in meat and milk, organic and local foods, sustainability

About Me:

My husband and I operate a mama cow and calf operation alongside my father-in-law and have recently added goats to diversify our farm. We also grow hay, corn and soybeans. We keep sustainability top of mind on our farm and have taken different steps to help improve the forage quality of our pastures for the animals and improve soil health for our crops. There is so much information out there when it comes to food and how it’s produced. I want to share my firsthand knowledge and experiences to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

Facebook: Lisa NelsonInstagram: @lisajokubik

Twitter: @lisajokubik

Mary Lauver

Lohrville, Iowa

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, attorney, mom, wife

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, gardening, riding horses

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership

About Me: My husband and I are fifth-generation farmers in Calhoun County, Iowa. We farm with my husband’s parents and brother, and I am still active on my parent’s Illinois farm. I am passionate about showing consumers that, as a fellow mom, we are in this together. Farmers work hard every day to provide safe and healthy food to all of us. I want to answer questions and connect with people who do not have the opportunity to see agriculture first hand.

Facebook: Mary Lauver

Twitter: @marymlauver

Julie Van Manen

Kellogg, Iowa

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, pigs, soybeans, sweet corn

My Work: farmer, wife and mom

My Hobbies: baking, reading, flower gardening and having lunch with friends

Ask Me About: animal nutrition and welfare, hormones in meat and milk, family farms vs. corporate farms

About Me: Our farm has been in my husband’s family since 1927. We’ve been married for 25 years, and we still enjoy working side-by-side to finish daily chores. While we have chores that we have to complete daily, there are no two days that are the same, and that is what makes farming so great.

Website: Farm Life In Black And White

Facebook: Farm Life in Black and White

Lexi Marek

Webster City, Iowa

Our Farm: corn, beef cattle, hogs, soybeans

My Work: digital marketing manager, PIC (Pig Improvement Company)

My Hobbies: baking, beauty, home decor, reading, social media, traveling

Ask Me About: farm ownership

About Me: I grew up as the sixth generation raised on my family’s farm. Although I don’t live on the farm now, I love getting back to the farm whenever I can. When I’m on the farm, I enjoy helping with our cattle and pigs and driving the tractor in the fields. I’m one of the many passionate agriculturists who work to support farmers who raise food to feed our families and feed the world. I want to help with transparency so consumers can see how the agriculture community takes steps to do what is best for everyone.

Instagram: @leximarek

Twitter: @leximarek

Joan Maxwell

Donahue, Iowa

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, dairy cattle, pigs, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: biking, travel, reading

Ask Me About: hormones in meat and milk

About Me: I work alongside my husband and our daughters on our farm. To milk our dairy cows, we use robots and, as a result, host many on-farm tours each year to see how it all works. We love to have groups visit us and are passionate about helping inform them while demonstrating our use of modern technology to better care for our land and livestock.

Website: Cinnamon Ridge Farms

Facebook: Cinnamon Ridge Farms

Amy Nelson

Donahue, Iowa

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, seed corn, soybeans

My Work: farm manager, wife, mom

My Hobbies: sharing my story

Ask Me About: family farms versus corporate farms

About Me: My story is rather unique, and one that I am very proud of. I am a fifth-generation female farmer and am carrying on my family’s legacy. My dad taught me how to manage and lead the farm, and although it is not as much fun without him, I am proud to be making decisions for our land that will continue our family’s legacy for years to come. I am excited for the opportunity to share our farm’s story with consumers who have questions.

Val Plagge

Latimer, Iowa

Our Farm: corn, soybeans, hogs

My Work: farmer, mom, wife

My Hobbies: baking, blogging, cooking, photography, reading, travel, writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, biotechnology/GMOs, family farms versus corporate farms, food safety

About Me: I am a fifth-generation farmer, and my husband and I love raising the next generation on our farm. Lately, the hog market has been changing and challenging, and we have been trying new things to make sure we can stay sustainable. I am proud of the choices available for consumers, and I want people to feel safe, secure and confident in the food choices available.

Facebook: Corn, Beans, Pigs, and Kids

Twitter: @PlaggeVal

Instagram: @PlaggeVal

Blog: Corn, Beans, Pigs and KidsVal Plagge

YouTube: Valerie Plagge

Sara Ross

Minden, Iowa

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmwife, mom of four boys, insurance agent

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, movies, overall fitness, photography, audiobooks, running, travel

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, biotechnology/GMOs, family farms versus corporate farms

About Me: We are raising our four boys on land where they will be the seventh generation to farm it one day. They already have a love for the cattle as well as planting and harvesting our crops! I think it’s important to put a face with farming right now to show consumers who is behind the food on their dinner table and how it is grown and raised.

Facebook: Sara Baldonado Ross

Twitter: @the_mrssaraross

Instagram: @the_mrssaraross

Pinterest: @the_mrssaraross

Corinne Rowe

Dallas Center, Iowa

Our Farm: beef cattle

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, relationship manager with John Deere Financial

My Hobbies: baking, flower gardening, photography

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, family farms versus corporate farms, sustainability

About Me: My husband, 10-year-old son, six-year-old daughter and I work on the farm as a family. We raise mama cows who have baby calves in May and June each year, and let our cows graze in pastures year-round. We also have a freezer beef business where we sell our meat to consumers and are opening an on-farm store to sell beef in 2021. We eat both the food we raise on our farm and the food produced by other farmers in the U.S. that we buy from grocery stores, because we know it is all safe and nutritious. We love that our last name (Rowe) happens to rhyme with cow!

Facebook: Rowes Red Cows

Instagram: @rowes_red_cows and @rowe_kids_and_cows

Suzanne Shirbroun

Farmersburg, Iowa

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, agronomist, co-manager of a seed dealership and precision-agriculture business

My Hobbies: cooking, arts and crafts, travel, hiking, gardening

Ask Me About: biotechnology/GMOs, sustainability and conservation, food safety, family farms vs. corporate farms

About Me: My husband and I farm on the same land that my ancestors started farming in 1873 in Farmersburg, Iowa. Because of our families’ long history with farming, we are extremely mindful of protecting the environment in order to ensure that the land is improved for future generations. I believe that the United States is fortunate to have natural resources and farmers to produce safe, economical, quality food for the world. I love to share that story!

Facebook:  2 Farmers and Their 3 Sprouts


Blog: Suzanne’s Common Ground

YouTube: Suzanne Shirbroun

Keisha Thompson

Milo, Iowa

Our Farm: beef cattle

My Work: farmer, mom, wife, teacher

My Hobbies: baking, boating, cooking, gardening, hunting

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, sustainability

About Me: My husband and I raise beef cattle on our farm in Milo, Iowa. Over the years, we’ve completed many conservation projects on our farm to make our land more sustainable for future generations. As consumers become further removed from the farm, I hope to share my agriculture knowledge and be a source of trust, so everyone can see how important agriculture is in each of our lives.

Facebook: kthomps0n7; 1 OAK

Instagram: @kthomps0n7@1oakiowa

Twitter: @kthomps0n7@1oakiowa

Website: www.1oakiowa.com