Having grown up on a family farm in southeast Kansas, co-founder, Jackie McClaskey, Ph.D., learned her passion for agriculture at an early age. At each step in her personal and professional career, she has always remained connected to agriculture. From her early days in 4-H and FFA to earning three progressive degrees in agricultural economics and animal science, she has built on her initial foundation and agrarian roots to serve Kansas agriculture through roles in Washington D.C., at our nation’s first land-grant institution and in state government.
During the 1990s, McClaskey worked in Washington, D.C., as the press secretary and agriculture and higher education policy coordinator in the office of then Congressman Sam Brownback. Following her D.C. experience, Jackie served as an assistant dean for the College of Agriculture at K-State for 13 years. Most recently, Jackie led the Kansas Department of Agriculture as an assistant and deputy secretary and then secretary from 2013 to 2018. In addition to her role at Roots & Legacies, Jackie serves as President of Development for the American Royal campus.
Jackie is a strong leader in professional development, influence building and association management.
Jackie and her husband live in Manhattan with their two Australian Shepherds, Lady and Scout. Jackie is an avid fan of all things KSU Wildcats and Kansas City Royals.
Dalton Henry, co-founder, brings a decade of public policy experience and an advocacy focus regarding farm and trade issues to the team at Roots and Legacies. A native of Randolph, Kansas – and Agricultural Communications graduate of Kansas State, he has held policy roles both on and off the Hill in Washington, DC.
Most recently he served as the legislative director for Kansas Congressman and member of the House Agriculture Committee, Roger Marshall. In that role, he was responsible for agriculture, energy, trade, and tax policy – while coordinating the overall efforts of the legislative team.
Prior to serving “on the Hill,” Dalton served as vice president of policy for U.S. Wheat Associates – the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry, and director of governmental affairs for Kansas Wheat. Dalton’s experience as a leader in FFA and student government at Kansas State University has fueled his passion for agriculture and public policy.
He currently splits time between Washington, D.C. and his family’s farm in North Central Kansas.
A Kansas native, co-founder, Emily Lehning, Ph.D., has a passion for agriculture and rural communities. She grew up in East Central Kansas in a tight knit community of 75 people where 4-H and FFA involvement dominated her calendar. Surrounded by strong and resourceful women (the unsung heroes of early American rural life) and a dad and brother who did not mind a tagalong, Emily learned to garden, preserve food, shear sheep, weld, change flat tires, and many other skills that were performed all in a day’s work to support the households and farms of her family.
With a degree in Agricultural Education and two degrees in Education, she has been able to draw from a theoretical base to serve her 20 years of practice in higher education at a land grant university in the Midwest. In this role, she has become a student of intergenerational workforce dynamics, education and workforce trends, and the fierce competition to attract and retain top talent.
A developer at heart, Emily seeks opportunities to promote organizational and individual excellence through coaching and training. Her favorite professional work has included opportunities to work with individuals and teams to clearly define their goals and to collaborate in creating experiences to do important work. A Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Emily specializes in coaching executives, managers, teams, and individuals starting new opportunities.
Emily and her husband Jeremy, also an educator, operate a small business in a small town where they are renovating a two story building of native Kansas limestone. They added this building to their collection of old structures – Emily’s childhood church in the early stages of renovation and their 1860’s one room school house that is their residence. They have one acre that supports their hobby farm dream with a small herd of alpacas and a flock of chickens. Their toddler, Olivia loves taking care of her boys (alpacas) and has big plans for this year’s garden.
Planted firmly in the middle of Kansas, Roots & Legacies co-founder, Sarah Goss, is a mother of four living a modern-day prairie adventure.
Growing up in the hills and deep top soils of the northeast corner of Kansas, she could barely see the prairie over the acres and acres of corn and soybeans. Her family encouraged her to go west to college to K-State, get a good education, spread her wings and establish roots. While there, she discovered the beauty that is a Kansas wheat harvest, found a way to understand the world through the lens of an agricultural economist, made amazing friends, and met a southwest Kansas farm boy, Brent, whom she’d later marry and whose view of the prairie was wide and unobstructed.
Sarah & Brent put down roots. Started a family. And five years ago, made good on a promise to themselves and to their kids – they bought a farm.
Sarah began her career in economic development, and then turned to banking. But, her babies stole her heart and her attention. She stayed home full time until 2014, when she started working part-time at Citizens State Bank & Trust Company. Outside of work, Sarah can be found fixing up the farm, spending more time on cattle hair than her own, coaching, and leading their 4-H club.
Sarah credits her time with the founding of Roots & Legacies as pivotal – an experience that helped her clearly define her own life goals, to understand the balance of work, family and community, and gave her an opportunity to meet and connect with a most inspiring group of agriculture industry leaders.
Sarah and Brent have four children: Noah, Tucker, Nell, and Britta. They love the farm, 4-H, showing livestock, playing sports, fishing, and asking their momma to make more cookies. Sarah’s part-time work at the bank and with Roots & Legacies gives her balance and perspective, allows her to contribute to her community and to the agriculture industry, and has helped her family to see that they really can find their own socks and make breakfast.
Co-founder, Chad Bontrager loves agriculture and the rural way of life. Growing up as the sixth generation on the family farm instilled the values of hard work and family collaboration that have served him well ever since. After earning a degree in Milling Science and Management from K-State, Chad went to work for Cargill in the flour milling business later pursuing a Master of Agribusiness degree from K-State. He worked in mills in Wichita, Chattanooga and Indianapolis covering all facets of the milling operation and developed a passion for leading people and managing processes to achieve operational excellence. Chad came home to Kansas to try his skills in state government and engage more closely in the family farm and cattle operation. Since then he has been using his free time to explore small town entrepreneurship and he currently owns five businesses and is in the process of starting a sixth business. Chad and his wife Mandy and their four daughters live on the family farm in Jackson County.
Co-founder Becky Johnson is a proud farm kid from a map-dot in Kansas and a former quality assurance chemist. Becky resides in Dallas and provides our PR and Communication clients with a unique mix of technical, practical, and firsthand knowledge about the food and agricultural industry. Becky combines her deep production agricultural roots and food industry experience to help clients communicate messages that resonate with their target audiences. Throughout her career, Becky has supported multiple commodity board programs, including those for The Catfish Institute, CanolaInfo, the National Wheat Federation, the Wheat Foods Council, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
As an independent writer and curriculum developer, Lindsey Huseman has performed contract curriculum work for the Nebraska Department of Education, SkillsUSA, the Kansas Curriculum Library, and Vivayic (including projects for Monsanto). She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education and a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction, both from Kansas State University, and served as the agricultural instructor and FFA adviser at Wilson (KS) High School from 2006-2013. Lindsey currently serves as the Ellsworth County Farm Bureau Association President and is a member of the Kansas Livestock Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Ellsworth County Fair Association. Lindsey and her husband, Mark, manage Huseman Ranch, which includes commercial cow/calf pairs and alfalfa hay production, while chasing two busy toddlers, Hagen (4) and Heidi (2). They live on the family ranch near Ellsworth, Kansas.
Shannon Krueger‘s creative toolbox is well-stocked with proficiencies in design, photography, social media and website management, project management, copywriting, editing and event planning. She spent eight years gaining experience in the non-profit, higher education and corporate sectors, always working as a freelancer on the side and making the leap in 2011 to full-time business owner. She studied at Kansas State University, earning a B.S. in Agricultural Communications and Journalism in 2003 and M.S. in Mass Communications in 2006. She also completed graduate coursework in Agricultural Leadership and Rural Development in 2003 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Shannon is passionate about creating stellar work that brings value to her clients. She has served clients of all shapes and sizes from Alaska to Florida on a variety of digital and print projects. She and her husband, Cody, farm with family near Abilene, Kansas, and have a toddler, Samuel.