Julia Olmstead

Julia Olmstead

Julia has spent her career focused on the intersection of agriculture and environmental conservation, which all began with her first job out of college at Annie’s Homegrown, the macaroni and cheese company. Julia has always been an environmentalist, but it was working in the food industry that helped her understand the outsized impact of our agricultural systems on the land.

After Annie’s, Julia completed her graduate work in plant breeding, sustainable agriculture, and journalism. She went on to work on agriculture and conservation policy at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and then to directly work with farmers as an educator with the University of Wisconsin Extension service.

Most recently, she served as a program officer with the McKnight Foundation’s Mississippi River program. She also owns a small antique rug business.

FMR Involvement: Board member since March 2020

Why I serve on the FMR Board: I had the opportunity to work closely with FMR staff as a program officer at the McKnight Foundation and think this organization is one of the smartest and most effective groups working to solve the complex challenge of protecting and restoring the Mississippi River. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to serve!

Education: M.J. Journalism, UC-Berkeley; M.S. Plant Breeding, Iowa State University; BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Community Engagement: Land Institute board member, volunteer at my kids’ public schools

Interests: Walking, old things, reading, Middle Eastern art history, my inspiring and wonderful children

Professional interests: perennial agriculture, environmental justice, water quality, philanthropy, antique rugs

Favorite Mississippi River location: The Mississippi/Minnesota confluence (Bdote)