“Leadership, some say, is born. We believe that leaders can be built, and that is why you’re here.”
When you sit at your Thanksgiving table or indulge in your favorite holiday recipes, have you ever considered the intricate web of efforts that make those cherished moments possible? Behind every delectable dish lies the toil and dedication of countless individuals who nurture Washington's agriculture. Among these unsung heroes are the graduates of the AgForestry Leadership Program. This unique initiative molds leaders from diverse backgrounds, empowering them to advocate for sustainable natural resources management in the Evergreen State. AgForestry's website states their aims clearly: "Leadership, some say, is born. We believe that leaders can be built, and that is why you’re here."
A Transformative Journey
The AgForestry Program is more than just a leadership program; it's a transformative journey that equips adults in the natural resources industry with the skills and knowledge to drive positive change in Washington's agriculture sector. Farmers, ranchers, foresters, and other agribusiness professionals embark on an 18-month adventure comprising 11 seminars across Washington state, a week in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., and two immersive weeks in a foreign country.
During these seminars, participants don't just learn about leadership and advocacy, they embrace the opportunity to collaborate with peers who hail from diverse walks of life and possess varying perspectives on natural resources management. "They all have different ways of thinking, different ways they serve natural resources, and (fall on) different ends of the political spectrum," said former AgForestry Executive Director Matt Kloes. However, the program's magic lies in fostering trust among participants, demonstrating that, despite disagreements, they can find common ground and unite for the betterment of Washington.
While knowledge acquisition is a crucial program component, it's only the beginning. Participants are encouraged to implement their newfound leadership skills on both state and national levels. Throughout the program, they collaborate on a capstone project designed to create real-world impact. This project typically involves efforts to pass new legislation or alter administrative rules that benefit Washington's agriculture industry.
Although this may sound daunting, it exemplifies the remarkable capability of AgForestry Program graduates to drive meaningful change. By proving that their advocacy can lead to legislative victories or policy improvements, these leaders underscore their pivotal role in preserving the state's precious natural resources.
A Silent Force for Washington Agriculture
"Washington state is now better because there is a silent force of AgForestry graduates out there making a difference every day," said Kloes. "They're helping us to have sustainable natural resources management to feed the world. They are out there doing the work that needs to be done."
As you savor your favorite holiday dishes, remember that the AgForestry Program's graduates are hard at work, ensuring that Washington's agriculture remains vibrant and sustainable. Through their dedication, these leaders continue to shape the future of our state's agriculture industry, safeguarding the holiday favorites we hold dear.
This November, as we gather with loved ones to celebrate the season, let us also applaud the tireless efforts of the AgForestry Program and its graduates. They are the steadfast supporters of our holiday favorites, committed to preserving the agricultural bounty of Washington for generations to come.