Our team of ranchers, conservationists, and community leaders are dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people of the Northern Great Plains and the wildlife that surrounds us. Together, we educate, build relationships, and strengthen rural economies.
MEET OUR STAFF
Martin grew up in Manhattan, Montana. He went to college at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming and finished his agriculture education degree at MSU Bozeman. While in college, Martin got a seasonal job as a range technician with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) based in Phillips County, where he lived with his grandparents.
He remembers spending time with his uncle on the family’s Phillips County farm and ranch, watching him interact the the local BLM range technician. “I couldn’t believe that was a job,” Townsend says. “It sounded like the most fun thing in the world. That’s what I enjoy most about my job now, being able to work with ranchers and farmers to help improve their places and help them meet their goals.”
Angel joined the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance in March 2020 as the organization’s Finance & Grant Administrator and moved into the Executive Director role in May 2022. Angel received her bachelor’s degree in business accounting and Master’s in Professional Accountancy from Montana State University Bozeman. She earned her Certified Public Accounting license in 2014 and spent three years working in public accounting, specializing in federal fund auditing among many other accounting projects ranging from income tax and payroll tax to auditing and attestation services.
Angel makes her home just east of Malta with her husband, Aaron, and three children, Tessa, Orrin, and Nash, where, together, along with other family members, they run a family cattle operation. When Angel and her family aren’t working on the ranch, they enjoy camping and boating on Fort Peck Lake.
Angel enjoys working for RSA because of the solution-driven, positive mindset culture the organization creates and nurtures and because of RSA’s dedication to the future of agriculture production, not only in our geographical area but across the United States as well.
Anna Merriman joined the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance team as the Executive Assistant in 2022. She was born and raised in South Phillips County on a livestock operation. She graduated from college, got married, and eventually moved back to South Phillips County in 2012 with her husband Cliff and two kids, Courtney and Beau. They own and operate an organic grain farm, integrating livestock and cover crops as well as cultivating and maintaining a wildlife friendly production system. Anna served as a past RSA board member from 2013-2018.
“RSA is an innovative organization with the ability to work with a diverse group of partners, landscapes and community members,” she said. “I stand by their mission 100 percent and am grateful for the opportunity to serve the group.”
Communications & Outreach Leader
Born and raised on the family ranch north of Glasgow, Haylie did a tour of eastern Montana colleges earning degrees from Miles Community College and Montana State University while starting a career in broadcast media. She worked with the Northern Ag Network for nearly a decade before moving back to the Hi-Line in 2014 and taking a job at KLTZ/Mix-93. She now wears multiple (but very stylish) hats as she continues to provide agricultural radio reports to 11 states via the Western Ag Network and Ag Information Network, owns a boutique-style store, Shippwrecked, in downtown Glasgow, and is actively working at transitioning into the family ranch.
At Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, Haylie is in charge of creating awareness about the organization and aligning educational topics with producer interests. “I’m excited about the mechanism that Ranchers Stewardship Alliance has created,” she says. “It really is a catalyst for helping our communities flourish.”
MEET OUR Officers
Leo Barthelmess is a former president of Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, a past Director of the MT Stockgrowers Association, served as a president for the Highline wool pool, past president of the Phillips County Livestock Association, and serves as a Trustee for the state chapter of The Nature Conservancy. His third-generation family ranch is a cow/calf operation that also produces sheep, hay and grass seed. The ranch has also been recognized as the region 5 recipient of the NCBA environmental stewardship award program in 2005. “Out here, we all want quality of life for ourselves and our livestock, we want a wonderful community to live in, and we want these soils and water systems to work properly. As ranchers, we recognize we’re just a little piece of this big, complex puzzle of life. Together, we can take good care of the pieces in our hands,” Leo said.
Dale is a third generation rancher who lives on the family ranch in the Missouri River breaks. Dale received a bachelors and master’s degrees in Animal Science from Montana State University, and worked as executive secretary of Montana Beef Performance Association while completing his MS degree. Dale and his wife, Janet, were the recipients of the Clarence Burch award in 2008 and the ranch received the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association regional environmental stewardship award that same year. Dale and Janet are founding members of the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance and the Matador Grassbank. “I serve RSA because it’s a grassroots driven organization in cooperation with the best technical and financial support group there is. People on the land are seeing how vitally important good stewardship is to our livelihoods, our community, the land and the environment,” Dale said.
Tyrel Obrecht is a 5th generation rancher in Turner, Montana. After graduating high school in 2009, he attended Montana State University and pursued a degree in Ag Economics. Tyrel worked for four years in Billings and Lewistown, Montana in the ag finance industry. He has his wife returned home to the family operation in the fall of 2017. Tyrel hopes to use new ranching technologies and practices to make the future of the business as viable as possible for his daughter Addison, the 6th generation. He chose to join the RSA Board as the RSA community provides ranchers in the region with an important network of progressive business owners who are constantly looking at new partnerships and practices for their ranching business.
Vicki and her husband, Darrell, are third generation ranchers from Phillips County. Her family has been on the ranch for 100 years and today the cow calf operation thrives off progressive practices like rotational grazing. Vicki is the President of the Montana Public Lands Council, past President of the Montana and local Cattlewomen, past Montana Beef Council representative, and a member of the National, state and local Stockgrowers. She also serves as a 4-H volunteer and is a retired EMT. Given her extensive industry and community involvement, RSA is the perfect fit for Vicki to continue fulfilling her mission of improving the ranching community and growing local connections.
Aaron was raised on the family ranch south of Malta in the same area his family set down roots back in the “homestead era” over a century ago. He works for the statewide agriculture lending company Montana Livestock Ag Credit, Inc. out of Helena. Aaron has been serving on the Rancher’s Stewardship Alliance since 2012 and said it is a privilege to be a part of a group that works on numerous on the ground conservation projects that help ranchers and the land they so deeply care for, providing more jobs in our communities on the High Line, and fostering partnerships with groups that largely seemed impossible not that many years ago.
Board of Directors
Meet the board
Rick Caquelin and his wife ranch south of Stanford, Montana. Rick grew up on a crop and livestock farm in Illinois. He graduated from Montana State University with a range degree and spent the better part of 33 years raising a family and working for the NRCS in Culbertson, Baker and Stanford. Now retired from his work at NRCS, Rick continues to be a trusted advisor to many in the ranching community. Asked about his involvement with RSA, Rick said, “I wanted to be involved with an organization that truly cared about the rest of humanity more than themselves and worked hard everyday to prove it and to me, that’s RSA.”
Amber Smith ranches with her husband and two children near Cohagen, MT on Antelope Springs Ranch. She currently serves on her local school board and is the Executive Director of Women in Ranching, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting women’s leadership on the land. As a board member of RSA, she is proud to contribute to thriving rural communities and the stewardship and conservation of Montana’s beautiful grasslands.
Conni and her husband Craig ranch south of Malta, MT. They raised three kids on the ranch and are looking forward to making memories with their grandkids there too. Over the years Conni has volunteered with Cattlewomen, 4-H, and the High School Wrestling Club. In addition to RSA, she currently serves as a Trustee for the Montana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and works part-time for the Phillips Conservation District. She is grateful to be a part of the Conservation and Ranching worlds and is excited to see what the future holds for both.