About Us @ KCARD

The Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) is a 501 (c)-3 non-profit organization established to facilitate agricultural and rural business development in Kentucky.  KCARD provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and business support services to businesses that are mutually owned by producers.


KCARD is supported through grants from the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program and the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.  


KCARD’s Executive Director and staff are familiar with various business structures, and they consult with emerging or existing businesses on critical questions related to incorporating, financing, management, marketing, accounting and legal concerns.  KCARD’s staff networks with state and national resources to assist with all aspects of business development.


To deliver professional business support services and stay abreast of agribusiness development activities across Kentucky, KCARD works closely with the following partnering organizations: University of Kentucky, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Governor’s Office of Ag Policy, CoBank, Kentucky Council of Cooperatives, Kentucky Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, and Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association.

Our Mission

KCARD fosters business success and growth by developing and delivering technical assistance and by providing educational opportunities for agricultural and rural businesses seeking to enhance their economic opportunities in and around the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

How we carry out the KCARD mission by:

 - Delivering hands-on technical assistance to new and existing agriculture and rural businesses and by   providing relevant educational opportunities addressing agribusiness challenges and issues.


 - Facilitating new economic opportunities for Kentucky’s agricultural and rural businesses through business development and assistance with the expansion and stabilization of existing rural businesses.


 - Developing support networks among providers and resources both within and outside the state.


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Aleta Botts

Executive Director

Aleta brings various business and management experiences to her position of Executive Director of KCARD. For close to a decade, Aleta worked on agricultural and other issues at the federal level as a policy staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington DC before returning the Kentucky in early 2011. Since that time, Aleta worked with KCARD as the Kentucky Grant Facilitation Program (AGFP) Coordinator, and has been helping Kentucky producers and others in the state understand the policy process and the farm bill as the Agricultural Policy Outreach Director at the University of Kentucky. Aleta holds extensive experience in management analysis, strategic planning, business consulting, and project management. 


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Brent Lackey

Business Development Specialist

Brent has been a Business Development Specialist for KCARD since July 2006. Brent brings over 3 years of cooperative management experience to the KCARD team. He graduated from Transylvania University with a B.A. in Economics and received his Master’s in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky. Brent has extensive experience in development of new cooperatives, assistance to cooperatives businesses, business planning, feasibility studies, and business management and operations analysis.


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Nathan Routt

Business Development Specialist

Nathan came to KCARD after completion of his Master's degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky in July 2006. Nathan previously worked with S&B Cattle Company in Lexington, KY. He has extensive experience in cooperative businesses, board training, record keeping, and business planning. 


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Kevin Heidemann

Business Development Specialist

Kevin joined KCARD in 2015 as a Business Development Specialist. He received a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics with a minor in Business and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Kentucky. He has worked as an Extension Associate for the University of Kentucky’s Department of Agricultural Economics for over three years, focusing on local food marketing and economics. While working full time at UK and finishing his MBA, Kevin received a Southern SARE Graduate Student Grant to research the economics of commercial aquaponics systems. He has also worked in operations management for ADM grain and was a KCARD intern as an undergraduate student. Kevin provides business development assistance to our KCARD team, as well as assistance with marketing, business management, and economics.


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Kati Bowman

Business Development Assistant

Kati came to KCARD in early 2014 as a Business Development Assistant. She received her Bachelor of Science in Community Communications and Leadership Development with a minor in Agriculture Economics from the University of Kentucky. She has worked for several Agritourism entities in Central Kentucky and held the position of Marketing Assistant/Coordinator at Wilson Nurseries. Kati provides business development assistance to our KCARD team, as well as marketing and recordkeeping assistance, communications, and social media & web consultations.


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Myrisa Christy

Project Director

Myrisa has been involved with KCARD since 2012 when she was a grant facilitation contractor. Myrisa’s involvement grew in 2013, when she became the Grant Facilitation Coordinator of the Kentucky Agribusiness Grant Facilitation Program (AGFP) for KCARD. Myrisa obtained her Bachelor degree in Anthropology for the University of Kentucky in 2003, and came most recently to KCARD from the Mammoth Cave Resource Conservation and Development Council, where she assisted farmers in applying for grants. Myrisa has worked with numerous producers in the business planning and the grant process, who have received both state and federal funds, including the Value-Added Producer Grant, the Local Food/Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, and as well as others. 


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Aaron Shapiro

Grant Facilitator

Aaron joined the KCARD team in fall of 2014 as a part-time Program Assistant. In April of 2015, Aaron was hired full time as a Grant Facilitator to work with the Agribusiness Grant Facilitation Program. Aaron has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Computer Information Systems from Western Kentucky University.  Prior to coming to KCARD, Aaron worked with several different agricultural entities in Kentucky to obtain USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants, a USDA Value-Added Producer Grant, a Local Food Promotion Grant, and a KSU Small Scale Farm Grant.  Aaron provides grant assistance to agricultural producers, farmers’ markets, and other agricultural entities working with KCARD.


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Cindy Finneseth

Program Assistant

Cindy provides support to the KCARD team as well as assisting producers, business associations, and other organizations interested in KCARD services.  She holds a PhD in Crop Science, an MS in Plant and Soil Science, and BS degrees in Agriculture and Journalism from the University of Kentucky.  Cindy has 20 years of agricultural experience, mostly focused in the seed industry.  Cindy worked as an Extension agent and seed testing coordinator for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and also in private industry, focusing on implementing technologies for improving operational excellence and productivity.  She has extensive experience in regulatory compliance, developing and delivering technical training programs, and project management.