A pair of Hoosier farmers new to ISA’s board of directors


Contact: Dave Blower Jr. at 317-644-0980;

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 12, 2021) — The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) board of directors welcomes two new voting members and two new non-voting members in 2021. Steve Phares of Albion, Ind., and Kevin Kelley of Brookston, Ind., joined six incumbents elected to the ISA board. Purdue professor Dr. Bernie Engel replaces the retiring Dr. Marshall Martin as the board’s liaison from Purdue. And, John O’Donnell, ADM Commercial Manager with the Frankfort Oilseed Processing plant, was added as an additional ex-officio member.

Phares takes the position left by John Emmert, who passed away on Nov. 26, 2020, in ISA District 2. Emmert had planned to retire from the ISA board this year. C.J. Chalfant of Hartford City, Ind. was re-elected as a District 2 representative. The counties in District 2 include Adams, Allen, Blackford, DeKalb, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Huntington, Jay, LaGrange, Madison, Noble, Randolph, Steuben, Wayne, Wells and Whitley.

Kelley replaces Joe Tuholski, who completed his nine years of service on the board in 2020. ISA board member Denise Scarborough of LaCrosse, Ind., was re-elected to another three-year term in District 1 along with Kelley. District 1 includes Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Elkhart, Fulton, Howard, Jasper, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Lake, Marshall, Miami, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Starke, Tipton, Wabash and White counties.

Newly elected board members

Kelley, 51, grows seed rye, wheat, corn and popcorn in addition to soybeans on his farm in rural White and Tippecanoe counties. He and his wife, Amy, have three children: Grace, Ryan and Aidan.

Kelley earned a bachelor’s degree in ag engineering from Purdue University in 1992, and he added a master’s degree in ag engineering from Purdue in 1995. After working as an ag engineer for three years, he returned to farm full-time in 1999. In addition to farming, he owns Kelley Engineering LLC.

Involved in his community, Kelley serves as a board member of the White County Ag Association, and he is a board member and secretary on the Prairie Township Library Board. In the past, he has been a board member of the White County Farm Bureau.

Kelley hopes to learn how checkoff dollars are used to help Hoosier farmers.

“I want to be an advocate for the American soybean producer,” he said. “I want to grow professionally and as a farmer, and I’m looking forward to working with a great team. I don’t have an agenda. I just want to serve and contribute to the success of American agriculture.”

Phares, 70, and his wife, Paula farm in rural Noble County with their son, Clint. Phares has been a full-time farmer since 1973. In addition to soybeans, he grows corn and hay, feeds steers and raises beef cattle and heifers. He recently retired from the dairy business.

Phares is a four-year U.S. Air Force veteran. He has been involved in many organizations through the years. He is a member of the Indiana Holstein Association, Indiana Dairy Producers and Indiana Farm Bureau. Phares is a past board member of American Dairy Association Indiana and Foremost Farms.

His goals for service with the ISA board include expanding the value of the soybean crop. “I want to continue new product development, and I want to help find new export markets,” Phares said.

In District 3, incumbents Mark Legan of Coatesville, Ind., Derika Lynam-Spaetti of Rockport, Ind., were re-elected to three-year terms. District 3 includes the counties of Clay, Daviess, Dubois, Fountain, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Martin, Montgomery, Owen, Parke, Pike, Posey, Putnam, Spencer, Sullivan, Tippecanoe, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Warren and Warrick.

District 4 incumbent board members Jim Douglas of Flat Rock, Ind., and Anngie Steinbarger of Edinburgh, Ind., will return to serve three-year terms. District 4 counties include Bartholomew, Boone, Brown, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Hamilton, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Ohio, Orange, Perry, Ripley, Rush, Scott, Shelby, Switzerland, Union and Washington.

Appointed ex-officio members

Purdue University’s College of Agriculture has been closely linked to the soybean checkoff since the checkoff was launched. For most of that time, Dr. Marshall Martin has been that personal contact between Purdue and the checkoff. However, Dr. Martin has new goals to chase as he enters retirement. He is replaced as Purdue’s liaison to the ISA board by Dr. Bernard Engel.

Engel is a professor of agricultural and biological engineering and an Associate Dean of Agricultural Research and Graduate Education. Engel earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois and his doctorate from Purdue. His research interests are soil and water engineering with a focus on water quality model development and application.

In addition, he develops readily used environmental decision support tools. These application areas are supported with research in fields of GIS, remote sensing, optimization and artificial intelligence. Engel is a Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and recipient of the ASABE Gilley Academic Leadership Award.

Added as an industry representative to the ISA board is John O’Donnell, who is a Commercial Manager at the Frankfort Oilseed Processing plant with Archer Daniels Midland Company, a multinational food processing and commodities trading corporation based in Illinois.

The ISA election process has begun again, and ISA is now seeking candidates for this year’s election. Go to to learn more about serving as an ISA director or to download a director expectation statement. For more information, call Hannah Vorsilak, ISA Marketing Operations and Leadership Director, at 317-644-2791. The ISA will distribute election ballots to soybean farmers by mail in May. ISA will announce election results in July.




About Indiana Soybean Alliance: The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. The ISA works to assist soybean farmers through its strategic initiatives of market development; environmental, social and economic sustainability; value creation and producer engagement. ISA is led by an elected, farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 20,000 Indiana soybean farmers. Learn more at

This communication was funded with Indiana soybean checkoff dollars.