A Conservation District is a local unit of state government with statutory powers and responsibilities to carry out programs of natural resources conservation and encourage wise land management. Our Staff team works with the Board of Directors, neighboring Conservation Districts, and partnership organizations to implement environmental conservation projects.
Meet Our Staff
Brian Talsma, Executive Director
Brian Talsma joined the Allegan Conservation District in October of 2018. He graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. in Biology with a focus on Natural Resources. Before joining us, he worked as an intern at a black bear sanctuary in Minnesota, taught high school Biology in Detroit, and served as an AmeriCorps member at the Antrim Conservation District in Bellaire. He is an avid backpacker and canoeist who is excited about restoring and sustaining wild areas.
Brian previously worked as our Watershed Technician and focused on reducing sediment and nutrients in our county's rivers by securing multiple funding opportunities and exciting conservation projects. As Executive Director he hopes to continue this effort and make our District the destination for conservation expertise in Allegan County.
Mike Ludlam, MAEAP Technician
Mike Ludlam started with the Allegan Conservation District in October 2012 as the Allegan County MAEAP Technician. Mike graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Resource and Development. In 2014 and 2020, Mike was named by The Michigan Department of Agriculture as the MAEAP Technician of the year. In 2017, he was the recipient of the MAEAP Technical Assistance award and received the Exceptional Service Award from the Ottawa Conservation District.
He and his wife, Heather, live on a 50 acre MAEAP Verified farm in Hopkins – Windswept Farms. Windswept Farms was established in 1993 when the Ludlams began raising registered Shetland and Commercial Sheep.
Jenna Rasmusson, Soil Conservation Technician
Jenna Rasmusson joined the Allegan Conservation District in January 2021. She graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Agronomy specializing in soil and water sciences and geology. Originally from Minnesota, Jenna interned with her local agricultural cooperative scouting fields and managed local soil testing before moving on to two different research internships. Through research she was able to learn more about micronutrient applications in large row crop operations in North and South Dakota, and participate in long term water quality monitoring efforts in Iowa. Jenna is passionate about conserving natural resources and is eager to engage with the community through education, outreach, and volunteer opportunities.
Jenna is an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hiking, skiing, and visiting National Parks.
Bonne Matheson, Soil Conservation Technician
Bonne Matheson grew up in Colorado, but found herself in the Midwest to graduate from Knox College with a B.A. in Biology. Since graduation, she has served as an Agriculture Extension Agent with the Peace Corps in Cameroon, and has worked as an Environmental Restoration Technician in Wisconsin. Bonne’s experience is largely focused in natural resource conservation through implementation of sustainable agriculture techniques. She has a large interest in decreasing effects of climate change by implementing nature-based solutions. With the Allegan Conservation District, Bonne looks forward to working with farmers and landowners to discover effective ways to conserve soils, protect watersheds, integrate sustainable farming practices, and improve farm efficiency.
When Bonne is not digging in the soil, she enjoys hiking, camping, and mountain biking.
Meet Our Affiliate Staff
Patrick Gordon, Produce Safety Technician
Patrick Gordon is a Produce Safety Technician with the Berrien County Conservation District in Southwest Michigan, working primarily with growers in Allegan, Berrien, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren counties. Patrick earned his Master of Natural Resources from Virginia Tech University and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography with a specialization in environmental analysis and land management from Western Michigan University. He is excited to work with farmers in South West Michigan to improve safety in the agricultural food chain. For more information regarding produce safety, visit www.miofps.org.
Ben Savoie, District Forester
Ben Savoie earned a B. S. in Forestry from Michigan State University, specializing in Resource Management. He has spent many years in community organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, and has worked in the field for MSU and the USFS. He is passionate about community involvement in ecological restoration and improving public knowledge on conservation management.
Meet Our Board of Directors
Lon worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service as an Area Civil Engineering Technician, and was on a national Disaster Assistance Relief Team (D.A.R.T.) team prior to retirement. After retirement, he worked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a first responder doing nationwide Disaster Relief work. Lon brings extensive experience in wetland restoration, and a strong knowledge of engineering and installation of conservation practices.
Kameron worked for Michigan’s Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality for 32 years, retiring in June of 2019. He has experience reviewing water related construction projects for impacts to fisheries, wildlife, botanical resources, and water quality. He is familiar with issues related to wetlands, inland Lakes and streams, floodplains, critical dunes, and high risk erosion areas.
Raecale was born and raised in Allegan, moved to Utah in 2005, and returned to Michigan in 2016. She is a professional photographer and owns a creative media business with her husband, Brad. Raecale is a Michigan Green School Coordinator, and finds creative ways to engage youth in environmental stewardship. On her own property, Raecale raises chickens, maintains beehives, has a veggie garden, and practices subsistence farming.
Shanna grew up in Coloma, MI on 24 acres of pasture and woods. For as long as she can remember her family had horses, dogs, and cats and she spent as much time as possible with them. Shanna and her partner Mikey are the proud owners of Hinterland Farm + Kitchen in Pullman. Shanna joined us shortly after having their farm MAEAP verified!
Mark has worked with the Allegan Conservation District through several grants as a Conservationist and Technician. Today, Mark is a local farmer and an advocate for no-till farming practices. He currently works at Virtue Cider as a Farm Hand.