Meet the Verifiers

Michigan now has five MAEAP verifiers, including Ben Tirrell, the latest addition to the team. He joins Josh Appleby, Tom Young, Dan Busby and Erin Satchell to complete the third and final phase of MAEAP with farmers – verification. Click here for the verifier coverage map.

Tom Young                                                                                                                                                                     

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Tom Young works with the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as a Field Verifier. This involves visiting and inspecting farms to make sure they are in compliance with MAEAP guidelines. Also, working closely with farmers to make sure their farm is environmentally sound by finding economical and practical solutions for the farmer’s operation.

Tom grew up on a beef farm in Brant, Michigan. He now resides in Midland. He attended Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in Resource Development. He worked 15 years for Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Tom has been working with MAEAP for 8 years and loves it. “I love going out on farms and meeting all the people involved in farming and seeing the diversity of farm operations across the state.”

Tom jumped at the opportunity to work with MAEAP. “MAEAP lets everyone in Michigan know that farmers are doing a great job of protecting the environment.  It enables farmers to show the public that they are good stewards of the land and are protecting our Great Lakes.” He currently verifies the Thumb and Central Michigan.

Josh Appleby                                                                                                                                                                

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Josh works with the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as a Field Verifier. Josh is originally from North Dakota, but grew up in various locations on the Westside of Michigan since 1993. Josh graduated from Western Michigan University where he studied Environmental Research Management and Hydrology. Before Josh was a MAEAP Field Verifier, He worked for the Van Buren and Allegan Conservation Districts in the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program.

Josh has been working with MAEAP for 11 years. He believes that we must condition farms for now and for the future, “We need to make sure that Michigan farms are conditioned to stay in business for the long term. We aim to assure that we are making the best of our resources. To keep a thriving ag industry in Michigan, we must maintain food security. To do that, we have to make sure growers are farming in a responsible way and provide assurance that their investments will pay off and that they will stay in business while still protecting the environment.”

Josh loves the diversity of Michigan Agriculture, “Not a day goes by where I don’t see something unique” He also enjoys working with the conservation district technicians and solving problems for the good of the farm. “I am proud of farms that go through the verification process; it is very satisfying to see hazards no longer on the farm.” Josh currently verifies the Southwest portion of the state.

Dan Busby                                                                                                                                                                        

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Dan Busby works with the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as a Field Verifier. This involves visiting and inspecting farms to make sure they are in compliance with MAEAP guidelines. Also, working closely with the farmer to make sure the farm is environmentally sound by finding economical and practical solutions for the farmer’s operation.

Dan grew up in DeWitt, Michigan. He graduated from Oscoda High School. He currently resides in Mesick, by the Manistee River. Dan attended Northern Michigan University with a degree in Conservation and Land Use Planning. He has been a MAEAP Verifier since Oct 1, 2012.

He covers many portions of the state including 14 Counties total, 2 counties along Lake Michigan shoreline from Ottawa and Kent Counties and north up too Antrim County.

Even though Dan hasn’t been a MAEAP Verifier for too long, he still has plenty of experience with the industry as well as safe environmental practices. Before he became a verifier, Dan worked as a Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program technician in Northwest Michigan. From both experiences, he loves what he does. “I really enjoy the networks and friendships that are made. Farmers are a genuine and true part of our community.”

Dan was excited to begin working with the MAEAP program. “It has always been a goal of mine to work with people that have an impact on the resources of the community and raise awareness to the importance of agriculture in our environment and how they can be a part of a sustainable system if managed properly, this program helps people do that I believe.”

Erin Satchell                                                                                                                                                                   

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Erin Satchell works with the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as a Field Verifier. This involves visiting and inspecting farms to make sure they are in compliance with MAEAP guidelines. Also, working closely with the agricultural community to make sure their operations are environmentally sound by finding economical and practical solutions for the farmer’s operation.

Erin grew up in Tuscola County near Caro but now resides in Chippewa County near Stalwart. Erin attended Michigan Technological Institute receiving his BS in Civil Engineering and his MS in Environmental Engineering.

Erin is new to his duties, starting with the program in October 2012. He covers two large portions of the state, the entire Upper Peninsula as well as the north-eastern portion of the Lower Peninsula.

Erin may be new to MAEAP but he has a deep passion for the land and preserving it. Growing up on a dairy farm, Erin knows the ins and outs of farming and working with the United States Department of Agriculture has prepared him for his new position at MDARD. “Everyone in Michigan benefits when our environment – land, water, and air – is safe and clean.  And one of our state’s greatest economic assets is a productive, vibrant agriculture industry.  MAEAP promotes the long-term preservation of both.,” said Satchell. “Most important for me is the opportunity to work at something meaningful, knowing that MAEAP is making a positive contribution here in Michigan.”

Erin enjoys the trips out to the farm for the opportunity to meet the farmers and hear their story. “I like going out to farms. Agriculture is a great industry, and farmers are great people.  They are innovative, optimistic, hard-working, and friendly.  Most do what they do because it is their passion, and they care about their environment and their community,” said Satchell. “Because MAEAP is a voluntary program, I know that I am there at the farmer’s invitation and that we share a common goal.”

Ben Tirrell                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                     Ben Tirrell 

Ben Tirrell works with the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as a Field Verifier in the southeast region. This involves visiting and inspecting farms to make sure they are in compliance with MAEAP guidelines. Also, working closely with the farmer to make sure the farm is environmentally sound by finding economical and practical solutions for the farmer’s operation. 

Ben received his B.S. in Animal Science from MSU in 2003, and his M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky in 2004.  Ben spent a two years in the Peace Corps in Chisinau, Moldova prior to returning to his family’s farm in Charlotte.  He spent just over two years as the Executive Secretary of the Michigan Sheep Breeder’s Association while continuing to farm. 

Over the last several years, Ben has continued to farm the home farm with his mother, raising 400 commercial ewes and farming 300 acres.  Ben and his wife, Jessy along with their 2 daughters simultaneously started a farm with 100 ewe flock which they established as the only Grade A sheep dairy in the state.  They have a market adjacent to their home where they produce and sell artisan cheeses, grass fed beef, and a host of other locally grown products.  Their farm is MAEAP verified in both the Livestock and Farmstead systems.

Ben brings a wealth of agriculture and MAEAP related knowledge to the program, having served in the past on the Livestock System committee.  He currently serves as the Eaton County Farm Bureau president, and in that role has been involved in many issues currently confronted in Michigan.