Welcome to the online information center for the 2021 Suri Network Board of Trustees Election! Here you will find information on each of the candidates running for election, as well as an outline of the electronic voting process. More information on how and when to vote will also be emailed directly to each member by Simply Voting, the organization managing our election process.
This year we have 5 candidates running for 3 Suri Network Board of Trustee positions each with 3 year terms. Laurie Findlay, Karl Heinrich, Michelle Pressler, and Laurel Shouvlin, will be returning to the Board. The terms of Sue King, Beth Sheets and Liz Vahlkamp are ending. The 2021 candidates for the Board election are Brian Barfield, Patty Hasselbring, Ted Ritschard, Beth Sheets, and Liz Vahlkamp.
The electronic vote will open on or around June 1st, and all votes must be cast no later than July 1st. Results will be tabulated and announced with the results of the Suri Fleece show and then sent to members by email in early August. Look for an email with voting directions soon!
Suri Network Board of Trustees – Trustee Job Description (2020)
The Suri Network, is a 501(c)(5) organization, governed by a seven member Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has legal responsibility for all activities of the organization. Responsibilities of Board members include, but are not limited to:
THE 2021 SURI NETWORK BOARD OF TRUSTEES CANDIDATES
Carey "Brian" Barfield
I was born and raised in North Carolina and joined the Navy right out of high school. I spent 10 years in the service while receiving a bachelors degree in computer science from Hawaii Pacific University. Upon leaving the Navy I pursued a passion in technology and worked around the country as a point-of-sale technician. In 2010, I joined Insight Direct as a IT project manager and still maintain that as a primary job today. In 2016, I purchased my first 3 alpacas and have not looked back since. I currently have 15 alpacas and breed, show, and shear them. I am also a mason and a Shriner and have held numerous positions within both of those organizations.
1. What do you feel you bring to the Suri Network Board that would enhance and strengthen the Suri Network's support of Suri breeders? A set of Fresh eyes with acuity for out of the box thinking and a passion for Suri.
2. If you had one sentence to summarize your potential contribution to the Suri Network, what would it be? I feel I have the technical acumen to help expand Suri Networks online presence past web pages and Facebook.
3. What would you like the Suri Network to look like in five years and how will you help it get there? A repository of information where suri breeders can provide and gather information, process that information, and discriminate it so that others can share in the knowledge. I particularly have an interest in making that process modern, simple and entertaining.
4. What is one strength of the Suri Network that you feel should be built upon and how can you help do that? The synergies and collective cohesiveness of the organization. The ability for the network to come together and provide a path for Suri within the greater AOA.
5. What is one challenge that the Suri Network faces and how do you believe you can help to address it? Communication always has room for improvement. I would like to help that with technology. Expanding suri networks social presence online opening fresh communication channels to a newer, broader, and theoretically younger demographic.
My husband and I own Hasselbring’s Harmony Ranch, just east of Kansas City, Missouri, where we have about 140 Suri alpacas. We started our farm in 2009 and raise seed stock with a focus on providing new owners with education and on-going mentoring.
Prior to starting our farm, I worked as a nonprofit executive director, trainer, and nonprofit consultant for over 35 years. I served on, or provided consultation to, numerous nonprofit boards and commissions during that time.
I have been involved in the alpaca industry in many ways through the years. I served on the Suri Network Board for two terms, from 2012 to 2016, with the last year as president. I served on the Alpaca Owners Association Board for one term, from 2017 ending in 2020, and at the request of that Board, continued on to fill a vacant term. I have been chair of the AOA Membership Committee for the past three years. I have served as the volunteer publicity coordinator for the Midwest Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (MOPACA) MIAS show for six years, and from 2018-2020 served as the volunteer Education Coordinator for MOPACA.
1. What do you feel you bring to the Suri Network Board that would enhance and strengthen the Suri Network's support of Suri breeders? I have experience in a variety of roles in the alpaca industry, from owner and mentor to volunteer and board member. The business model that my husband and I have developed for our farm focuses on breeding and selling seed stock, and our specialty is helping new alpaca farmers get started. Education for new owners and ongoing mentoring is woven throughout our business model. This allows me to continually stay in touch with the needs and concerns of new owners and those who are interested in owning alpacas.
2. If you had one sentence to summarize your potential contribution to the Suri Network, what would it be? I am committed to ongoing education and networking for Suri owners, whether through conferences and in-person classes or online.
3. What would you like the Suri Network to look like in five years and how will you help it get there? I envision the Suri Network continuing on the path of innovation for the Suri industry. The majority of Suri owners will be members and will participate in the creative initiatives of the organization. The Suri brand will be well known and easily recognized, and the value of Suris – both the animal and the products – will be appreciated.
4. What is one strength of the Suri Network that you feel should be built upon and how can you help do that? The strength that I believe we need to continue to build on is the Suri Network’s progressive and innovative approach. The Suri Network has an outstanding history as a forward thinking and nimble organization, and I am committed to assisting the organization in continuing that tradition. As an owner and breeder, we have participated in the SHIP program twice and find it to be incredibly helpful. We also participate in the Suri: Simply Stunning branding initiative. The revision of the Suri Breed Standard was initiated during my term as President of the SN Board, and on our farm we use the breed standard plus we encourage our clients to use it as well. It is part of our educational program for new breeders and those considering alpaca ownership. I am participating in other benefits also, such as the Social Media Training, that demonstrate the Suri Network’s commitment to supporting its members. All of these initiatives demonstrate how the Suri Network has continued to develop to meet the needs of Suri owners. I will help the organization continue to grow and explore possibilities.
B I Bar Ranch
Hello, my name is Ted Ritschard. That distinct last name has represented generations of livestock breeding in Colorado. I am named after my grandfather who was part of the second-generation of family raising quality beef cattle in the high and dry climate of Grand County, a surprising change for these Swiss immigrants who previously knew milk cows and a much gentler climate.
While very proud of this heritage, discovering Suri Alpacas was unexpected. Just before the Great Recession hit its stride in 2008, Julie and I arrived at a confluence of events that resulted in our buying our first animals and building a small operation in the Black Forest outside Colorado Springs. The B I Bar brand now represents my wife Julie and I, and our B I Bar Ranch Suri alpaca business just as it did for my great grandfather, his business, and his products.
Mirroring my ancestor’s challenges, Suri alpacas soon redirected our time, money, and energy to adapt to a new life. Blessed with such great timing, we needed to learn the business of Suri alpacas. This required engaging with those who came before us, adapting lessons from the past to a new future for the business and the breed. In the years since, we have worked with all of you to further enhance this exceptional species and advocated for their exceptional Suri fiber and products.
I would like to continue working for something I am sincerely passionate about, and that is the mission of the Suri Network. Over the last several years I have volunteered in the effort that gave us the “Suri, Simply Stunning” brand and would like to see this effort repaid for all members as a valued trademark for our industry that will enhance the value of our animals and fiber. During this effort I facilitated development of the graphic theme, created educational and background materials on branding and brand marks, conducted webinars sharing our progress, and helped develop the process for managing the mark. I have also been a show volunteer in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska as a ring steward. Witnessing the amazing work done by show volunteers, judges, breeders, and exhibitors is more than a fair trade for helping keep the ring safe and moving.
My professional background after following in my grandfather’s significant shadow in a small town has been as a Civil Engineer specializing in transportation issues. Yes, when you curse that congested roadway, incomprehensible interchange, lack of transit/too much transit, or blasted bike lane, I might have planned or designed it for reasons I would be happy to share and explain why I have also cursed. I have worked the last 30 plus years roaming the western United States planning and designing transportation infrastructure. Mostof that time also required the strategy development, marketing, and managing significant business enterprises to profitability and sustainability. I believe this experience would be an asset to the Board of Trustees.
1. What do you feel you bring to the Suri Network Board that would enhance and strengthen the Suri Network's support of Suri breeders? Multiple things:
2. If you had one sentence to summarize your potential contribution to the Suri Network, what would it be? I will work diligently to enhance the Suri Network toolbox for its members to improve the Suri alpaca industry, to create opportunities to develop new markets for animals and fiber and attracts new members in a sustainable future for our members and the breed they steward.
3. What would you like the Suri Network to look like in five years and how will you help it get there? The next five years are critical to the Suri Network. We have invested in a tremendous toolbox to help our members. We need these investments to be connected into an integrated strategy focused on supporting members and the Suri alpaca breed. I would like to see in five years more cohesive communications to align internal strategies and enlist external partners. Every tool we have needs aligned and used towards a common purpose, not just a box of assembled parts. I also believe that enlisting external partners to advance the brand promise behind “Suri, Simply Stunning”and additional exposure is critical to creating a more vibrant and sustainable industry.
4. What is one strength of the Suri Network that you feel should be built upon and how can you help do that? The Suri Network gets things done!
The members of the Suri Network have completed tremendous work. I believe that my experience can help develop these individual tools into a more cohesive strategy to create additional opportunity for all our members. These investments were bred from the optimism we have in the Suri alpaca and each other. I share this optimism and believe that together we can achieve any ambition we define.
5. What is one challenge that the Suri Network faces and how do you believe you can help to address it? The biggest challenge the Suri Network faces is figuring out how to fund the actions necessary to capture the biggest opportunities. I believe we need additional focus on membership and other revenue streams to fund these investments. The investments we have made need to provide, not just perceived value, but dollar value. Revenue streams should come from membership branding materials, new classes of membership and/or external sources that leverage co-branding of fiber or products. To accomplish this, the Suri Network must also continue to make investments in branding and positioning Suri fiber as a premium, available, and consistent product. I believe we must make it more approachable before we make it more exclusive, but both will drive the demand and price for animals and the benefits to our members.I welcome your review of my background and responses to your questions. I am excited to be considered for this position and for the opportunity to work with the Board of Trustees and all our members. The path forward is promising. I hope to take the walk with you.
Beth Anne Sheets
Beth Sheets along with her husband, Tim, own Heritage Farm Suri Alpacas in central Indiana. They have been raising Suri alpacas since 2003 and have been active members of the Suri Network from the beginning of this adventure. In 2016 they expanded their business in the agritourism field by offering their farm for weddings, farm stay experiences and educational events and it continues to grow each year. Maintaining the heritage of their farm is important and was demonstrated when selected in top 10 barns for the Indiana bicentennial with their 1911 historic barn in 2016 and the John Arnold award for rural preservation in 2017.
Beth retired as a consultant for a major pharmaceutical company in 2017. She had worked for over 20 years supporting clinical trials thru multiple facets. She has also been an independent contractor who installed and provided training for medical equipment, and in hospital laboratory management for over 20 years combined.
Within the alpaca industry she has served on local and national committees. She has been the Educational Chair and/or Board Member for the Indiana Alpaca Association for over 8 years. For the national organization she has served more than 8 years on AOA committees (Show Rules Committee [SRC] and Judges Training Committee (JTCC). She is currently the chair for the JTCC. Since August 2018 she has served as secretary and most recently president of Suri Network. Within the local 4-H program she has served for over 22 years and is still active as a project leader and supporting for the Lama project across 2 counties. Most recently she was awarded the Spirit of the Industry Award by AOA at the spring National Halter Show.
1. What do you feel you bring to the Suri Network Board that would enhance and strengthen the Suri Network's support of Suri breeders? Through my experiences during my career, I have participated and led many teams. It is important to recognize and use each person’s skillset to continue to accomplish and build upon the current work for Suri Simply Stunning Brand, SHIP, Product Development, Educational committees, to name only a few. I feel that every individual can only accomplish so much but by working together and building upon the current strong foundation that we have in SN we can continue to improve and bring recognition to the Suri alpaca, the beautiful and useful fiber and stunning products that can be produced. I have a passion for these animals and a desire to help SN to create more awareness across the industry.
2. If you had one sentence to summarize your potential contribution to the Suri Network, what would it be? Creating
an atmosphere where others can use their talents, continue to build on
the strong foundation that past SN boards have created and find ways to
move forward in today’s challenges.
3. What would you like the Suri Network to look like in five years and how will you help it get there? I would like Suri Network to be strong financially so that it can help the Suri industry continue to
· Provide education to new and current Suri owners to help all aspects of the business starting with the health and breeding programs and continuing thru to the final use of the Suri fiber.
· Build upon the current SHIP program and other available tools so breeders can use that knowledge to make better breeding decisions.
· Successfully created the Suri Simply Stunning Brand and have it fully implemented for Suri breeders.
· Have a youth program
I would like to work with these different committees and continue to build upon what we have started in SN. It will take working with our national alpaca organization, fiber groups and businesses to continue to build our knowledge and strengthen the Suri alpaca business. Building a stronger community of suri alpaca breeders (maybe bringing some huacaya breeders into the fold) and starting at the youth level to build more interest.
4. What is one strength of the Suri Network that you feel should be built upon and how can you help do that? SN has always been strong in leading the way with the Suri Breed Standard, the SHIP program and Suri Simply Stunning Brand. We need to continue to build upon these programs and look for new creative ways to build the Suri alpaca in the industry.
5. What is one challenge that the Suri Network faces and how do you believe you can help to address it? The most challenging areas are keeping SN strong financially and showing value to our members. This organization has so much to offer but we can only continue to grow by having the members involved. It will take each member in the organization’s involvement and enthusiasm to move us forward. We need to build a strong community that works together to build and support the Suri breed and the wonderful products are produced from it. As a member of the board I will try to work with all members to see this organization grow.
Salt River Alpacassaltriveralpacas@yahoo.com
I am a retired investment banker based in St. Louis, MO. My husband, Chris, and I run Salt River Alpacas which is located on 116 acres in Paris, MO. We own approximately 80 Suris, of which 22 make up a fiber herd and the remaining are breeders. We have been Suri owners since 2004. We have participated in the show system for many years, and we have pursued a breeding program designed for profitability in fiber production.
I chaired the SNPDC for many years with successes such as putting on fiber education seminars of which approximately half of all SN members at that time participated, setting up SN booths at large fiber festivals around the country to bring awareness to the fiber, overseeing the creation of the SN Harvesting Code of Practice, and overseeing the creation of yarn patterns for SN members to purchase. In 2011, I stepped down from that role and began The North American Suri Company – the first alpaca company to purchase Suri fiber for cash from farms around the country – and have spent the last ten years working to open markets for this great fiber.
I am a member of my regional alpaca affiliate – MOPACA – and served on that board for three years, acting in the role of senior board member in my third year. I have served on the Suri Network board for the last three years, and would be honored to be selected to serve for another three years.
1. What do you feel you bring to the Suri Network Board that would enhance and strengthen the Suri Network's support of Suri breeders? Almost since we purchased our first Suris in 2004, I have been active in the textile side of the alpaca business. I served as the chairperson for the Suri Network Product Development Committee for many years, accomplishing a variety of initiatives, I started the North American Suri Company in 2011 to purchase Suri fiber from farms around the U.S. and have built that business to include a diverse group of clients who use Suri on a larger scale. In the three years that I have
been on the Suri Network board, I have been a voice for the fiber component of our industry, and believe that it is critical to have that piece of our industry represented as we support our members in both animal sales and product sales.
2. If you had one sentence to summarize your potential contribution to the Suri Network, what would it be? I am a big picture, strategic planner.
3. What would you like the Suri Network to look like in five years and how will you help it get there? Over the next five years, I would like to see the SN develop a strong marketing component to our association for the benefit of its members - just as many other agricultural associations do. We have spent the last several years educating our membership on all things Suri through efforts on the PDC, the breed standard, and the S.H.I.P program – each of those initiatives a great success. It’s now time to move beyond the alpaca community and bring awareness of Suris and their fiber to a broader audience. To that end, I have recently become the board liaison to the Branding Committee which has a great opportunity to market Suris and Suri fiber in one simple slogan – Suri Simply Stunning! Also, as the liaison to the Product Development Committee, we are exploring the creation of short, social media friendly videos that will promote the use of Suri in textiles while also promoting the Suri Simply Stunning mark. Those types of videos can also be used for promoting the animals and Suri member farms. In addition to a greater social media presence, as communities begin to open up again, we will evaluate in-person events where we can expand our base of prospective Suri owners or Suri textile consumers – FFA events, textile events, agricultural events, etc. Overall, we need to create a strong marketing support segment of our association to support our members’ individual efforts.
4. What is one strength of the Suri Network that you feel should be built upon and how can you help do that? Our official trademark of Suri Simply Stunning. Having that will focus our marketing efforts and allow us to readily grow awareness of both the animal and the fiber.
5. What is one challenge that the Suri Network faces and how do you believe you can help to address it? We are a small organization with limited funds. That can make marketing a challenge. However, with the advent of social media and selectively targeting our in-person events, I believe we can overcome this and work to promote our great animals and fiber!