Skip to main content

Northeast Climate Hub Team 2020—Arrivals and New Beginnings


The start of 2020 has brought a few changes to our Hub Team.

Since 2015, the Northeast Climate Hub has benefited from hosting liaisons from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  As a one year detailer, a liaison provides vital links to the expertise and connections within NRCS while embarking on their own focused project.  Past Northeast liaisons have included Dan Dostie, Suzanne Baker, Joan Howard, and most recently, Chris Miller. Our NRCS liaison for 2020 is Elizabeth Marks. We gratefully welcome her to our team. In addition to the USDA Climate Hub’s liaison program with NRCS, the Climate Hubs have also been host to research fellows. Dr. Rachel Schattman has served as the Northeast Climate Hub Fellow. In January she moved on to serve as research faculty at the University of Maine.

Elizabeth Marks serves as a biologist for USDA NRCS in the Hudson Valley (New York).

A certified Holistic Management educator, she works with landowners to improve soil health and biological diversity on their farms and forest. She also has extensive experience creating and delivering online trainings for adult learners. Elizabeth’s focus this year will be to design trainings for USDA employees to better assist farmers in implementing climate smart farming techniques. The training will include state specific climate change data and identify NRCS practices to address resource concerns linked to climate. Elizabeth explains her project:

“NRCS has field office employees covering all counties in the Northeast. The employees, made up of district conservationists, resource conservationists, soil conservationists, engineers, and biologists, interact daily with farmers, ranchers, and landowners ‘helping people help the land.' With farmers already experiencing changes in climate, such as increased temperatures and extreme rainfall, their need to adapt is increasing. Fortunately, there are well researched and documented solutions that can help farms remain viable and avoid crop and soil loss.  Many of these climate smart farming techniques also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, and can improve farm productivity as well.”

We are excited to welcome Elizabeth and her project to refine USDA climate trainings. These will bring useful information to field employees in order to better serve our region’s farmers and forest land owners.

Chris Miller served as the Northeast (and Southeast) Climate Hub Liaison in 2019.

As the Manager for the USDA-NRCS Cape May Plant Materials Center in New Jersey, Chris was struck by the fact that the Mid-Atlantic is seeing rises in sea level three times the global average. Chris’s Climate Hub project was focused on discovering how farmers can manage their lands to deal with both saltwater and water quality issues caused by sea level rise and coastal flooding. This project has also been helping researchers understand the impacts saltwater has on growing crops in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. Chris and the Plant Materials Center can provide a range of plant solutions to reduce the impacts of saltwater intrusion on agricultural lands. Chris has shifted his focus back to the Plant Materials Center’s operations but his detail experience through the Climate Hubs continues to influence his work. In the coming years, the Cape May Plant Materials Center plans to prioritize projects relating to saltwater impacts. It will seek to continue experimental propagations and plantings with saltwater tolerant species in order to determine which can be incorporated into various conservation practices.

We look forward to continuing to work with Chris on sea level rise issues in new ways.

Dr. Rachel Schattman served as the USDA Northeast Climate Hub Fellow from 2016-2019.

As a social scientist and agroecologist, Rachel came to the Hub with solid research experience on the topic of farmer perceptions on climate change. During her tenure as Climate Hub Fellow, she built on her previous studies to expand understanding about how USDA employees perceive climate and weather related risk. As a former commercial vegetable grower, Rachel developed a research program targeting the on-the-ground challenges farmers face because of climate change. She developed a program focused on water use efficiency and irrigation management in diversified cropping systems. She also co-led the Vegetable and Small Fruit section of the Climate Adaptation Fellowship. This is a peer-to-peer learning project for farmers and foresters to share knowledge and encourage climate adaptation.

In 2020, Rachel started a new position as Assistant Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Maine in Orono. In her new role, Rachel is already engaging in research with specialty crop producers and agricultural advisors. Her goal is to identify and address production challenges through the lens of climate change adaptation. The Northeast Climate Hub is adjusting to Rachel’s shift from Fellow to partner, but we are looking forward to working with her often in her new capacity.