Advisory Board

Steve John
Agricultural Watershed Institute
AWI phone: (217) 877-5640

Steve John is the co-founder and executive director of the Agricultural Watershed Institute, a nonprofit research and educational organization based in Decatur, Illinois. AWI’s mission is to conduct research and educational programs on practices and policies to improve water quality, maintain or restore ecosystem health, and conserve and manage land and water resources in agricultural watersheds. A major focus of AWI’s work is on multifunctional cropping systems that include perennial and cover crops as well as annual row crops. Prior to AWI’s formation in 2003, Mr. John was an environmental planning consultant specializing in watershed management, decentralized wastewater systems, and the links between land use and water quality. From 1987 to 1995, he served on the Decatur City Council where he first became involved in watershed approaches to reduce nonpoint source pollution in Lake Decatur. As a council member, he helped to form the Lake Decatur Watershed Committee and served as co-chairman. He serves on the steering committees of the Green Land Blue Waters Consortium and the Illinois Biomass Working Group. He has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame.

Bryan Endres
(217) 333-1828

Bryan Endres is a Professor of Food and Agricultural Law in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.  Dr. Endres studies the impact of law throughout food and bio-products supply chains and develops solutions to improve regulatory outcomes. He is active in the Bock

Program on campus (Bock Program | A site – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) where he explores a range of issues, including legal structures to support farms engaged in direct marketing, small farm regulatory compliance, liability issues relating to use of genetically engineered seed, and developing cooperative legal structures to better manage invasive plants.  He teaches courses on food law, bioenergy, biotechnology, and sustainability.  His outreach activities include contributions to Direct Farm Business, which provides legal advice to address the unique legal concerns of Community Supported Agriculture (“CSA”) farms. 

Check out recent works:

Frontiers | Influence of the Seed Loophole and Bottleneck on Quantity and Quality of Organic Maize Seed in the U.S. Midwest (

Restaurant disclosure of food allergens: Analysis and economic implications – A Bryan Endres, Renata Endres, Marinela Krstinić Nižić, 2021 (

Bounds of Agritourism: Defining the Bounds of Booming Agritourism – farmdoc daily (

Dr. Endres received his J.D. at the University of Illinois, an M.A. from Bowie State university and his B.S. at the U.S. Military Academy.

Leslie Duram
(618) 453-6084

Leslie Duram is a Professor of Geography at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and Director of the Environmental Studies Program since 2012. She is a Fulbright Scholar and conducts research on organic farming systems and environmental sustainability. With more than 50 journal articles and peer-reviewed publications to her credit, her academic range encompasses local food, alternative agriculture, environmental education, sustainability, water quality, and grassroots participation in environmental management. A frequent lecturer, writer, and speaker, Duram shares her commitment to sustainable food systems development with students, researchers and farmers across the planet.

Check out some of her recent work:


Special issue in Sustainability: Sustainability | Special Issue : Local- to Global-Scale Environmental Issues (

Plant based climate summit Plant-Based Climate Summit | April 1, 2021 – YouTube

University Food Gardens: A Unifying Place for Higher Education

She received her Ph.D. in Geography from University of Colorado, her MA in Geography from Kansas State University and B.A. in International Studies from Wichita State University.

Carmen Ugarte

Dr. Ugarte’s is an assistant research professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and the Project Administrator of the Illinois Organic Project that is one of ASAP’s priority projects.

Her research focuses on understanding the effects of soil management practices on soil quality and function. She is especially interested in studying the dynamics of soil food webs and their influence on soil ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and the regulation of population densities of deleterious soil organisms. Our ability to gain insight on these relationships and processes is fundamental to improving soil management and ensuring sustainability of our natural resources. Her work includes basic and applied research at different scales (e.g., experimental and replicated trials, on-farm research) at the regional and national levels in agronomic and natural systems.