May 1, 2008

Tomorrow I graduate from the Washington Agriculture and Forestry (AgForestry) Education Foundation Leadership Program. It has been a wonderful opportunity and an invigorating journey. My classmates and I have covered over 30,000 miles and listened to at least 300 speakers on a wide variety of policy, leadership development and natural resource industry subjects. The program is currently seeking accreditation at a Masters level, but I’d recommend the experience to anyone contemplating a future in public service, with or without the extra credential. The Foundation works hard at striking a balance in each class between agricultural producers, forest industry workers, fisheries and shellfish producers, and natural resource agency staff. It’s not just about the individual learning, the network is becoming so well connected that applications are now coming in from commodity group staff and environmental groups. It is always a struggle for those of us who are self-employed producers to participate, and the Foundation is working hard to attract more producers into the program to maintain the focus and balance. We spent time today brainstorming ways to get the message out – the AgForestry leadership program is an awesome opportunity!