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AgForestry leaders-in-training to start 43rd journey at WSU

AgForestry class
A past AgForestry Leadership class meets on the Washington State University campus

Gathering at Washington State University for the first time in three years, more than a dozen working professionals in agriculture, forestry, and natural resources begin a roving, two-year journey of leadership and learning this October.

The 43rd class of the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation’s AgForestry Leadership Program begins Oct. 13, 2021, at Pullman, where they will learn about WSU research in support of agriculture, hear from leaders in natural resources and local program alumni, tour campus, and begin their studies.

Launched in 1978 with participation from WSU, the AgForestry program helps keep Northwest farms, forests, fisheries and communities strong through leadership education and development.

“AgForestry has a long-standing partnership with WSU to provide a pathway for leadership in the natural resource sciences from undergraduates to professionals in the field,” said Holly Henning, curriculum advisor and a clinical assistant professor in WSU crop and soil sciences. “Participants gain from WSU expertise in connecting research to Washington communities and sharing better practices in agriculture and natural resources.”

Leadership class visits Creamery
AgForestry participants tour the WSU Creamery and other venues during their learning session on campus. WSU hosts the launch of the latest cohort in fall 2021.

The partnership also benefits students. Undergraduates in WSU’s Agriculture and Food Systems program interact with AgForestry alumni as part of their capstone course, learning about professional and industry challenges, and how to improve their leadership and training opportunities. Many AFS students have identified applying to AgForestry as one of their future goals.

“Working directly with AgForestry, we help ensure our curriculum stays relevant,” Henning said. Students see how they can go on to build their career and shape the future of agriculture and natural resources in Washington.”

Following a three-day session at Pullman, the group moves on to locations across the state over the next two years, also visiting Washington, D.C. and taking part in an international seminar.

The current class represents the breadth of Washington agriculture, and also hails from local and state government, business, and conservation interests.

Mike Gaffney presents to AgForestry
Mike Gaffney, WSU Extension, speaks to members of a prior AgForestry Leadership class visiting Washington State University.

“AgForestry participants walk away from the program with a deep knowledge of the complexities of natural resource issues, as well as a broad understanding of who key stakeholders are throughout our state,” said Hannah Poush, AgForestry Program Director. “They also gain strong leadership skills and confidence to make a difference.”

“My engagement with AgForestry as a seminar presenter has allowed me to see first-hand how well it accomplishes the goal of creating cross-industry peer networks of well-prepared new leaders,” said Mike Gaffney, director of WSU Extension Community and Economic Development Program Unit. “AgForestry is a valuable resource for our state.”

The AgForestry Leadership Program is financially supported by business, commodity, and institutional partners across Washington.

Learn more about the Program and the work of the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation at http://agforestry.org/.