Hemp is taking off across our nation. Paying attention to the industry trends and challenges, there’s an obvious disconnect between farmers, manufacturers, processors, and suppliers that’s limiting the full potential of this abundant resource. Our non-profit association was founded with the intention to aid the growth of Wisconsin’s hemp industry in all areas.
Through education and with a little dirt under our nails, we work directly with our farmers to ensure they yield the best possible crop for processors. We teach sustainable farming practices with a zero waste approach!
We provide our members with networking, all the way from the farms to supplier’s shelves, through our established relationships with processors and suppliers and our commitment to cultivating community. In partnership with Wisconsin Lobbyists, we advocate on behalf of Wisconsin farmers and manufacturers to reform existing laws.
Wisconsin has the potential to be the Nation’s Hemp industry leader. We are passionate about working with the community to make that happen. Our Farm It Forward program teaches our local communities about the benefits of the hemp industry by offering volunteer opportunities with Wisconsin hemp farmers. We are proud to bring the Farm It Forward principle full circle by giving back to the local communities through charitable contributions.
Board of Directors:
Phillip Scott, Founder and President
Phillip is Inuit and his tribe is the Inupiaq tribe out of Northwestern Alaska. At the age of six, he was displaced from his people due to his father being in the United States military. He lived in Georgia until the age of fourteen, when he then moved to Madison, Wisconsin and has thrived ever since.
After an injury as a UPS driver, Phillip dove deep into the hemp industry, touring around the United States hitting 33 of the current pilot programs, networking and learning about all things hemp. He founded the Wisconsin Hemp Farmers and Manufacturers Association in 2018 and is excited to move the Wisconsin Hemp Industry forward.
Ken Rupnow, Vice-President
Ken is the CEO of Green Life Performance LLC., a Wisconsin based company that focuses on hemp farming, processing and retail product. Ken is a true Wisconsin boy at heart; raised on a tobacco farm in Dane County Wisconsin, he loves everything about the farming and outdoor activities the Great State of Wisconsin has to offer.
Outside of spending time outside, Ken loves being a people person, whether that is helping others or striking up a conversation with a stranger. After his 6-year time of service in the military, Ken moved back to the Madison area and started managing in the Grocery Industry. This led him to work with a Smartphone Application in which he worked with over 100 grocery stores throughout the nation, giving Ken the opportunity to continue working closely with customers in independent markets as well.
Alisa Fager, Director of Operations and Communications
Alisa graduated from Edgewood College in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational and Interpersonal Communication. During her 4 and a half years at Edgewood, she worked as a Course Coach for the Edgewood Cutting-Edge Program, mentoring and supporting students with disabilities with their studies.
After seeing the impact CBD can have on individuals, and after watching her father heal sooner and endure less pain through using CBD products over prescription medications after a motorcycle accident, Alisa wanted to get hands-on within the hemp industry. “Hemp can do so much good, and I want to be a part of that; I want to help those in need by offering them quality alternatives to prescription medications.”
Travis Helminiak, Director of Oversight and Conservation
On May 25th, 2017 Travis lost his sister to a prescription medication overdose; she was only 35 years old. She battled addiction her entire life, and that moment changed his life forever.
Travis left his career as a driver at UPS to try to help kick start the hemp industry by helping out as much as possible with whatever he could. “If I can help prevent even one person from getting hooked on prescription medication, I would say that is a job well done.”
With almost two years of experience with hemp, Travis is very hands on in his oversight position; he helps farmers grow their crops, connects them with processors, and helps get their product on the shelf, all while ensuring each step is completed in an efficient and timely manner.
Kurt Schnepf, Executive Director to the President
After Kurt’s time playing collegiate hockey, he moved to Madison, WI to open his own restaurant. At Big Red’s Steaks, his team was named the ‘#1 Cheesesteak’ outside of Philly within 6 years of being in business.
With a change in the economy, Kurt left his restaurant and started working in the grocery industry. He quickly climbed into management and has managed grocery, dairy and frozen departments. Kurts ability to handle high volume ordering and an aggressive physical workload brings a jack of all trades to the WIHFMA team.
Kurt’s reason for getting into the hemp industry is based on two reasons; after visiting family members in Colorado who live off a self-sustaining farm and being shown the uses for hemp fiber, it became clear to him that this plant can be used to help change the world. Rope, paper, and other products are being made to help his family with their everyday lives. The second reason is for the medical benefits; after his grandmother started declining in health, her doctor recommended she try CBD. After a few months of use, her arthritis pain was gone and she could use her hands again and even go on walks. Her mind seems to get sharper and the pain management of her joints, in her own words, “was life changing.”
Christopher Horst, Treasurer
Chris is a reliable and realistic father of two from Madison, Wisconsin. He accounts funds donated to help build and teach farmers about their crop, as well as the public about the benefits of hemp. He also helps ensure donations are being distributed properly and provides the association and its members with reports to ensure goals are met.
“We have ideal growing conditions for hemp here in Wisconsin, and it seems the number of failing farms increases every year; I think hemp could change this. CBD is helping reduce the need for certain pharmaceuticals. My goal with joining WIHFMA is to make a change for the better and help people. I feel hemp and CBD will benefit farmers and individuals, not only in Wisconsin, but around the world.”
Thea Rief, Director of Business Relations and Human Resources
Max Vejvoda, Land Management Director
With a strong belief in only taking prescription medication unless truly necessary, Max relies on hemp for natural pain relief.
“Having people in my life who suffer from daily pain, chronic illness, and various disabilities, I can clearly see all the great opportunities this plant offers to help people live the lives they desire.” Max wants to help push the hemp industry forward and assist WIHFMA in helping and supporting the farmers of Wisconsin.
Jackie Slivicke, Sustainability and Growth Research Director
Pedro Pena, Plant and Harvest Director