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USDA Northeast Climate Hub Team — Celebrating Arrivals and Appreciating Transitions


In 2023, we welcome new faces while familiar ones step to new paths.

In brief, the USDA Northeast Climate Hub team is joined by Sara Kelemen, Dr. Kathryn White, and Suzy Hodgson. Both David Hollinger, and Al Steele, former USDA director and co-director, after long careers in the U.S. Forest Service have retired. Lindsey Rustad, also a long-time co-director, has stepped up as (Acting) Director.

Celebrating Arrivals

Sara Kelemen

Farm resilience in the face of a changing climate has always been a key driver of Sara’s research interests. Her graduate research work focused on farmer adoption of soil health practices and perceived barriers to adoption. In addition, she also studied farmer perceptions of novel payment for carbon and ecosystem services programs. After finishing her master’s program in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Science at the University of Maine in 2022, Sara joined the USDA Northeast Climate Hub as Project Coordinator.

In this role, Sara tracks projects to promote success, timely reporting, and information sharing. Previous to joining the USDA Northeast Climate Hub, Sara assisted in developing the on-farm mitigation curriculum for the Climate Adaptation Fellowship.

Check out Sara’s recently penned article on Hart Farm’s experience with a novel shallow well.


Dr. Kathryn White is the ARS Fellow with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. She is part of the Hub’s Economics of Soil Health project evaluating the costs and benefits of soil health practices in agriculture in the Northeast. She is expanding on this project by working within long-term ARS cropping systems experiments to expand knowledge of agricultural management effects on closely linked soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics. In addition, she is conducting experimental research testing and validating process-based crop models using long-term ARS data. Dr. White is also a soil scientist with the USDA ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland where she conducts research at the long-term Farming Systems Project. Her research investigates the interacting effects of agroecosystem management, crop diversity, cover crops, and organic amendments on soil organic carbon and nitrogen cycling, storage, and efficient use.

Suzy Hodgson

Since completing her MEM, Yale School of Environment in 1991, Suzy has been committed to sustainability. She has worked for the University of Vermont Extension’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture since 2013. While Suzy is technically not a new face to the USDA Northeast Climate Hub team, as she has previously worked on climate adaptation economic case studies. The most recent being, Growing Milkweed in Vermont: An Economic Case Study is thrilled to be working again with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub in an even greater capacity this year.

Suzy will be developing a climate learning network/forum with and for agricultural service providers. Working alongside Co-Director, Lynn Knight, Suzy will convene climate listening and learning sessions to share approaches to program delivery, information, and resources among Agricultural Service Providers (ASPs) including USDA NRCS, Cooperative Extension, and other entities.

Read more about the launch of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub’s Climate Learning Forum.

Appreciating Transitions

Al Steele

Al Steele worked as Physical Scientist and Forest Products Specialist with the US Forest Service, State & Private Forestry Region 9 based in Morgantown, West Virginia. Al's educational background includes degrees in forest management, engineering, and an MBA. Prior to his federal service, Al worked with tribal forestry programs across the nation, two paper companies in Maine, and a market research firm. After joining the Forest Service, Al worked for many years with the Economic Action Program which focused on fostering sustainable, natural resource based economic development opportunities in the 20 Northeast and Midwest states. In recent years, Al expanded his portfolio, developing expertise on the technical and policy issues associated with climate change and energy as they intersect with natural resource management.

We are grateful for Al’s years of service and wit to the USDA Northeast Climate Hub.

Some of Al’s published work though the USDA Northeast Climate Hub include: Climate Smart Buildings Ahead, Forests: A Carbon Cycle Checking Account, and What can forest managers do to increase carbon storage and mitigate climate change?

David Hollinger

Dr. David Hollinger has led the USDA Northeast Climate Hub from its inception in 2014. In parallel to his director role at the USDA Climate Hubs, he was also a career scientist with the US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station based in Durham, NH. As a Plant Physiologist, Dave studied how the environment effects plants and in particular, trees. He has led long-term research into impacts of climate on forest growth and water-use at the Howland forest in Maine, and helped found the AmeriFlux network of research sites. Prior to this, he received a B.A. in Biology from Dartmouth College in 1977, and a Ph.D. in Ecophysiology from Stanford University in 1984.

Much of his recent research interests have included cost-effective and practical responses to changing climatic conditions in forests and on farms across the northeastern United States. The many connected to the USDA Climate Hubs and US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station would agree that Dave’s scientific curiosity, calm demeanor, can-do attitude, and sense of humor have made him an indispensable colleague and friend over the years. We at the USDA Northeast Climate Hub are especially grateful for Dave’s years of public service – both in science and in outreach.

Listen to the first in a three part series of recorded conversations with Dave on becoming and being a research scientist, starting a climate hub, and the importance of climate optimism through it all.

Or read some of his most recent articles: Cost-effective strategies to Reduce Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, Of Peril and Hope, Back to Paris!, Another Warm Winter but Better News about Climate Change, and Extreme and Persistent Rains and Flooding in the Midwest - Can it happen across the Northeast?

Lindsey Rustad

Dr. Lindsey Rustad has stepped up as the new Director of the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. She is also a Research Ecologist for the USDA Forest Service’s Center for Research on Ecosystem Change in Durham, NH (and former Team Leader for the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in NH). With a long and successful research career, Lindsey provides expertise on the impacts of global change on northeastern forests. Some of her current interests include implementation of cybertechnology in forests across the northeastern United States and the integration of Arts and Science at long term ecological field stations. She received a B.A. in Philosophy at Cornell University in 1980, a M.S. in Forest Science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences in 1983, and a Ph.D in Plant Science in 1988 at the University of Maine.

The USDA Northeast Climate Hub is fortunate to have Lindsey’s leadership, focus, and creativity at the helm in 2023. Please take a moment to read her latest Director’s Desk and past articles: Climate Warming brings Earlier Spring, Insects Change the Story, and Of Peril and Hope.