Collette Kaster - Executive Director

Collette Kaster

Executive Director

A native of northwest Iowa, Kaster holds a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from South Dakota State University and an M.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She joins PAACO after serving most recently as senior vice president of quality technical services and hog procurement for Smithfield Foods.

Kaster has long been involved with key industry activities such as the animal welfare committees of both the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and the National Pork Board (NPB). She has served on the NPB’s Food Safety and Pork Quality Solutions committees and as a chair of the NAMI Inspection Committee. She was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection from 2001-03 and is past president of the American Meat Science Association as well as an AMSA Fellow.

Collette, her husband Dennis, and their two girls Sam and Sophie live outside of Kearney on a small acreage where they run a small herd of cattle and horses. Outside of work you can find Collette at a softball diamond or volleyball court cheering on her daughters or headed out to the slopes to take in a little skiing.

Dakota Thomas - Training Manager

Dakota Thomas

Training Manager

A native of southwest Wisconsin, she was active on her family’s cow/calf and crop operation. Her passion for livestock led her to South Dakota State University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications and minors in Advertising, Animal Science, Journalism and Marketing. At SDSU, Dakota was a member of the livestock judging team and served as the Executive Chair of the Jackrabbit Memorial Jackpot Show.

Dakota comes to us with a wealth of cattle knowledge and communication background; which is utilized as she oversees all PAACO on-site and online training offerings and manages the organization's communication efforts. 

In her free time, Dakota runs a small photography business, specializing in on-ranch/farm candids and livestock show photography. Along with taking pictures, she enjoys spending time outdoors, working with cattle and attending livestock shows.

Marjorie Jones - Office Manager

Marjorie Jones

Office Manager

A native of Northwest Missouri, Marjorie grew up in a farming community. She holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Missouri. Marjorie worked in petroleum marketing for seven years before deciding to stay home to raise her children. She is a scheduling master and has served many roles through school associations and clubs.

Marjorie’s high organization and office management skills are fundamental to PAACO. She makes sure all things behind the scene are working properly. Marjorie has spent countless hours learning and refining the process of audit certification, recertification and payments. Many of you have had contact with Marjorie over the year and know how great she is!

Marjorie, her husband Shannon, and their two children, Anna and Sam, live in Kansas City. Marjorie spends her time outside of work watching her daughter show quarter horses and her son play baseball.

Lora Wright - Training Specialists

Lora Wright

Training Specialist

Wright has nearly 20 years of meat industry experience and a lifetime of production livestock knowledge. Growing up in central Minnesota, she learned an appreciation for agriculture and hard work early in life, doing her part in a family farming operation. After earning her bachelor’s degree in animal science from South Dakota State University, Wright went on to Colorado State University to earn a master’s degree in animal science where she focused her research on meat quality and retail meat case surveillance projects.

Wright holds PAACO certification with Red Meat, Swine, Poultry and Beef Feedlot programs, and has been a trainer for all of these. She keeps the auditor certification process flowing with review of the Auditor Performance Reports and updates to the training and exams as they are needed.

Wright currently resides in rural Centerville, SD where she and her husband, Casey, run a small beef cattle herd, sheep flock and hay ground. The Wright family also includes a herd of children – Cullen (14), Peyten (11), Tatum (9) and Griffin (6).

Jennifer Woods - Training Specialists

Jennifer Woods

Training Specialist

An Animal Care and Welfare specialist based out of Blackie, Alberta, Canada, Woods obtained her undergraduate degree in Animal Science at Colorado State University and her Masters degree in Veterinary Preventative Medicine - Animal Welfare from Iowa State University. She has over 25 years of experience with production livestock and has been collaborating with the livestock industry in all aspects of animal welfare and care since 1998. She has been a professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) certified auditor for all five species groups since 2007 and is the lead trainer and developer for Canadian Livestock Transport (CLT) Certification program.

Her areas of expertise include euthanasia, animal handling and behavior, animal welfare auditing and assessing (slaughter, farm, feedlot and transportation), livestock emergency response, transportation and facility design. Jennifer’s work has taken her all over North America, across Europe, South America, into Asia and down to Australia. Her work has been used globally to audit, train and improve farm animal welfare.

She currently lives on a farm in Alberta, Canada where she raises Southdown sheep with her husband Shawn and kids Ellie and Lane.