Welcome to Ecosystem Services Exchange! x

About Us

Our founding partners offer a unique combination of skills and experience
in the fields of environmental conservation, agricultural land and water management
and business and financial expertise.


Dave White

Dave White

President, Ecosystem Services Exchange – Former Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Dave has over 33 years of professional leadership experience in natural resource conservation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Dave was Chief of the Agency from January 2009 to December 2012, where he led, directed, and managed the nation’s largest private lands natural resource conservation organization. NRCS has an annual budget of $4.2 billion, employs almost 12,000 conservation and business operations professionals, and works out of 2,900 offices across the United States and its territories. Dave has extensive experience and a very successful track record of overseeing complex resource protection programs, working with diverse interests, developing and moving conservation legislation, and providing leadership for the successful implementation of natural resource goals.

In addition to his work with NRCS, White has also spent significant time on Capitol Hill. In 2007, he was detailed to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s office in Washington, D.C., where he helped craft the conservation title of the 2008 Farm Bill. He also served on a detail to Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and helped develop the conservation title of the 2002 Farm Bill

Alex Echols

Alex Echols

Strategic Advisor, Ecosystem Services Exchange

Alex started his environmental career on Capitol Hill, working for the Senate for 12 years, writing key conservation programs like the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill and an extensive rewrite of bilateral and multilateral foreign aid programs. Alex subsequently worked for a trade association using market incentives to encourage use of recyclables. He spent six years at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as Deputy and then Acting Executive Director. In 2001, he set up a consulting firm to help industry, landowners, the conservation community and government deliver more conservation for dollars invested. Alex is skilled at developing and implementing strategic action for philanthropic and corporate communities – helping develop conservation programs that fit their core values and deliver improved conservation return on investment.

Charlie Schafer

Charlie Schafer

Founder, Ecosystem Services Exchange

Charlie began his career in the agricultural drainage industry in 1976, when he and 2 brothers began installing drainage tubing for Iowa farmers and began manufacturing products for their own projects and for other contractors. In 1984, construction activities were discontinued in order to focus fulltime on product development, manufacturing and distribution. Charlie continues as President and owner of Agri Drain Corporation, a highly successful manufacturer of many proprietary and patented products. Charlie has held various offices as a Contractor Member and Associate Member of Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA) over the past 30 years. He is President of the Ag Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC) and serves on the board of the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC).

Tom Christensen

Tom Christensen

Director of Conservation Operations and Development

Tom has over 40 years of professional experience at the field, state, regional, and national levels in support of public-private partnership efforts to assist farmers, ranchers, and forest stewards with their voluntary conservation needs. The majority of this experience was gained while working for three different agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including 37 years with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). During his USDA career, Tom held 16 different positions in nine separate locations. He was the NRCS State Conservationist for Illinois and also held eight different national-level Senior Executive Service positions, including leading information technology, all conservation programs, all business operations, and supervising the 12 State Conservationists in the U.S. Central Region.

Tom has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. on private lands conservation issues and opportunities. He is experienced in all aspects of the development, delivery, and leadership of efforts to support voluntary conservation including conservation and watershed planning and implementation, science and technology development and transfer, technical assistance quality assurance and optimization, and supporting information technology tools. Tom has a B.S. in Forest Management from Rutgers University and an M.S. in Renewable Natural Resources Conservation from the University of Connecticut. He joined Ecosystem Services Exchange in February 2020 after retiring from USDA.


Andrew Craig

andy craig

Conservation Engineering Lead

Andrew Craig has been with the ESE team since May, 2020. He received bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Iowa (UI) in 2003 and 2005 in Civil Engineering – Hydraulics. He spent 13 years working at IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering at UI on a wide variety of water resources subjects ranging from subsurface imagery, hydrographic survey, river sedimentation, fish passage, vortex and baffle drop shafts for combined sewer overflows, and many more. In 2017, he left IIHR to pursue a doctoral degree in agricultural engineering/land and water resources at Iowa State University (ISU) where he worked with the STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Row Crops Integrated with Prairie Strips) team studying the impact of prairie strips on the fate and transport of bacteria and antibiotic resistant genes from manure fertilizer. He received his PhD from ISU in June, 2021. Andrew now splits his time as Director of the Buss Hydrology lab in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at ISU and as the Conservation Engineering Lead at ESE. At ESE, Andrew is mainly involved in conservation drainage practice design (saturated buffer, bioreactor, drainage water management), development of automated water level and flow controls for these systems, and working to increase producer adoption of conservation drainage.


Andy Mackrill


Lead Conservation Planner

Andy is from Adair, Iowa.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Buena Vista University and is also a graduate of the Overholt Drainage School.  He joined ESE in January of 2013 and has since been involved in planning managed drainage and sub-surface irrigation projects throughout the Midwest.  Andy is a certified Technical Service Provider for the NRCS.


Ben Reinhart


Conservation Planner

Ben holds a BS in Natural Resources and a MS in Ag Systems Management from Purdue University. Prior to joining the ESE team, Ben worked as Director of Operations and Ag Water Management for Clark Farm Drainage Inc. in Indiana where he was responsible for drainage project planning, design and delivery. He also has more than 10 years of experience in the public and academic sectors, which has ranged from leading conservation programs for local watershed projects in Indiana to serving as Project Manager for a $5 million, multi-state research project focused on increasing water storage in tile-drained landscapes to improve water quality and availability. He has authored multiple publications and on-line tools on innovative ag water management practices including drainage water recycling, controlled drainage and saturated buffers.


Paul Jorgensen


Agronomy Advisor

Over 30 years as an agronomy advisor, Paul has invested his energy in building relationships that help growers adapt to changing conditions and remain profitable in their farming operations. Paul received his agronomy degree from Northwest Missouri State in 1989 and has long been involved in his own family farming operation in southwest Iowa. He continues to learn and build on his passion for agriculture, enjoying the life that it provides, and always working to uncover the best strategies to support the growers he advises.


Ecosystem Services Exchange does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or military status in any of its services or operations.