Soil Health and Nutrients, Program Director, Midwest Division
Grand Rapids, MI
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Agricultural conservation, people metrics
Mary Fales has served as the program director for the Midwest Division’s Regenerative Row Cropping Strategy (RCS) since 2019. She focuses on managing the portfolio of projects across five states including Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. She brings staff together to communicate and collaborate on their projects and ensures that our RCS work is contributing to the NA Ag Strategy. Mary is also the lead for the Farmers Leading Change pillar, which is one of the five components of the NA Ag Strategy.
Mary was previously the program director for Michigan’s Saginaw Bay Watershed since 2012. The program relies on using online decision tools, innovative financing mechanisms, an expansive public private partnership that engages the agricultural supply chain, education initiatives and behavior change strategies to deliver agricultural conservation where its most needed. Her work has led to several multi-million-dollar projects, including the $10M Regional Conservation Partnership Program, focused on targeting agricultural best management practices to the fields that need them most to reduce nutrient and sediment-laden runoff and increase groundwater recharge for the benefit of people and nature.
Mary has more than 20 years of experience in watershed management in both urban and agricultural landscapes. She has previously worked in environmental consulting for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Water Bureau and for the Macatawa Watershed Project (Holland, MI). Mary previously served as the president of the Michigan Soil and Water Conservation Society and was awarded the 2014 Friend of Conservation Award from the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. She was a participant in the 2015 cohort of The Nature Conservancy’s Science Impact Project and is completing a Soil Health and Nutrients Coda Fellowship for the Midwest Division.
She completed her undergraduate education at Michigan State University, earning one B.S. in environmental studies and another in fisheries and wildlife. She obtained an M.S. in biology, with an emphasis in aquatic ecology, from Grand Valley State University. Mary lives in Caledonia, Michigan with her husband and three boys and enjoys camping, hiking, gardening and watching her kids play sports.