Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources Director Nancy McBrady Announces Critical Staff Hires
August 2, 2022
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
Augusta - Today, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources Director Nancy McBrady announced Ronda Steciuk as the new Animal Welfare Program Director, Matthew Boucher as the bureau's new Soil Scientist, Gus Nelson as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) Director, and Shane Bacon as the Maine Harness Racing Commission Executive Director.
"Ronda, Matthew, Gus, and Shane joining our team will help bolster the Department's capacity to meet the agriculture sector's challenging problems, such as climate change, animal welfare, and food insecurity," said BAFRR Director Nancy McBrady. "These new leaders bring wide-ranging expertise and a commitment to support Maine's rural and agricultural communities and deliver programming designed to solve the sector's challenges."
Ronda Steciuk - Animal Welfare Program Director
Ronda Steciuk is the new Director of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Animal Welfare Program (AWP). Ronda brings a wealth of experience and depth regarding animal welfare programs to the bureau. She graduated from Smith College with a B.A. and received her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law. She was formerly a senior program manager with PetSmart charities, where she managed several programs that provided relevant experience and skills for this position. Ronda managed a national spay/neuter grant program with a $5-7 million budget. She also supervised and improved a shelter management animal transport program, working closely with shelter partners and veterinarians, ultimately making it a successful national program. Ronda also has shelter management experience, having managed a county shelter in Alabama, where she was able to grow the program budget by 59%, reduce the intake of animals by 48% and increase the live release rate by 42%. As an attorney, Ronda is comfortable with animal welfare legal cases, including court procedures and interpreting laws and regulations.
Ronda lives in Falmouth with her husband and two children. She spends her free time exploring Maine and hiking with her dogs. She rows with Maine Coast Rowing Association and Portland Community Rowing Association. Her background, training, and management experience within the field of animal welfare make her an excellent fit for the role of Director. She started with AWP on July 25.
Matthew Boucher - Soil Scientist
Matthew Boucher has joined the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as its new Soil Scientist, where he will develop, manage, and direct the Department's new Healthy Soils Program. The position is a key resource for leading climate-smart agricultural practice education, training, and information exchange to staff, relevant state agencies, resource partners, and constituents ranging from agricultural producers to the general public. Matt is a graduate of UMass-Amherst with a B.S. in Biology and Anthropology. He has a Ph.D. in Entomology from Cornell University and was a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State in Precision Sustainable Agriculture. This educational and research experience provided Matthew with expertise in integrated pest management and sustainable agriculture best practices. As a graduate student at Cornell, Matt independently procured and managed grants totaling approximately $330,000 and oversaw applied research activities for 16 universities as part of a multimillion-dollar grant assessing the effects of cover crops in enhancing biological control of major pests (insects and weeds).
A Westbrook resident, Matthew describes himself as a big hiker, having spent much time hiking in the White Mountains. He is also a biker and spends a lot of time on gravel trails. Matthew is from Western Massachusetts, so this position represents a homecoming to New England after being away for about eight years. He has a longstanding interest in maps and geography, mostly learning new places and finding interesting places to visit that are off the beaten path. He is an avid Boston sports fan, especially the Red Sox, and deeply loves baseball.
Gus Nelson - The Emergency Food Assistance Program Director
Gus Nelson joined the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as the Director of The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). TEFAP is a federal USDA program that the state administers through acquiring, storing, and distributing commodity foods throughout Maine. Additional food access programs Gus will manage include the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and Maine Hunters for the Hungry. Gus is a Maine native and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Southern Maine and a Masters of Community Health Education from West Virginia University. Gus was Program Coordinator for the WV Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition for eight years. Gus has managed a food pantry and was recently employed by a local area on aging, SeniorsPlus, as the Community Education Supervisor. He was in charge of planning and executing various evidence-based health education programs for the aging and disabled population.
Growing up in Camden - where the mountains meet the sea - gave Gus a deep appreciation for the natural world and how we interact with nature. He currently lives in Lisbon Falls with his wife and three children. On weekends you can find him splashing in the Sabattus River and looking for old pottery pieces, canoeing at Beaver Park, or hiking up Bradbury Mountain. Gus is excited to join the DACF team of talented and dedicated professionals committed to Maine agriculture, forests, outdoor recreation, and public access.
Shane Bacon - Maine Harness Racing Commission Executive Director
Shane Bacon recently joined the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as the new Executive Director of the Maine Harness Racing Commission. Until this transition, he was a New York State Gaming Commission Steward, responsible for implementing the Commission rules and the Presiding Judge at Yonkers Raceway. He also presided at Monticello, Vernon Downs, Saratoga Harness, and Buffalo Raceway. As a judge, he issued rulings for drug infractions, driving violations, and other rule violations and also was responsible for track testing facilities and hiring inspectors and state veterinarians. He has worked in some capacity within racing since 1983, including marketing and race announcing. Shane started race announcing in Maine at Lewiston Raceway in 1986 and was the race announcer and an oddsmaker at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, PA, for eight years. He is familiar with racing's challenges and opportunities including in Maine.
Before becoming a full-time judge in 2013, Shane ran a successful food business in Maine for five years. He likes weight lifting, bike riding, and ocean swimming. Based on his deep racing knowledge, experience, and passion for the sport, the Department is excited to welcome Shane onboard.
JOIN THE DACF TEAM
Pursue a career where your passion lies. If that's in supporting the producers who grow and make the nutritious food we eat, stopping forest fires, keeping our parks and public lands pristine and accessible, or planning wise land utilization, explore careers and seasonal job opportunities with us. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has a wide range of duties and invites everyone to learn about open positions online or by calling (207) 624-7761.