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Aggie of the Year and Top 10 Student: Graduating senior racks up honors

By Julia Layland, CAHNRS Academic Programs

Exploring how to keep people healthy through sound agricultural practices, 2020 Aggie of the Year Katie Doonan graduates this spring with a double degree from WSU’s Agriculture and Food Systems program, and the Biology program with a minor in Soil Sciences.

Doonan smiling for the camera in a greenhouse wearing a WSU shirt.
Katie Doonan

Doonan was also named as one of WSU’s Top Ten Seniors under the Community Service category.

A 13th generation farmer and rancher who can trace her lineage back to 1640, Doonan works summers as a volunteer firefighter and EMT while helping her family with harvest.

“I aspire to be a physician and farmer that connects food production with long-term societal health,” she said. “My goal is to create a cohesive system where sides aren’t pitted against each other.”

Doonan has been involved in virtually every aspect of CAHNRS, but these two awards caught her by surprise.

“It hadn’t crossed my mind that I would win or be nominated,” she said.

Doonan has a passion for sustainable agriculture, so taking on the task of coordinating the Eggert Family Organic Farm’s Fall Harvest Festival and pumpkin patch was close to her heart. The festival is not only the largest event for the farm, but also for the Organic Agricultural Club, of which she is a serving officer.

“I was so happy to be able to help bridge the gap between the WSU community and the Pullman community,” she said. “Seeing people so excited to be there made me feel like all of my hard work for the three months beforehand really made a difference.”

Over her four years at WSU, Doonan has been involved in research projects and clubs, in addition to community projects.

Working closely with Regents Professor John Reganold, director of WSU’s organic and sustainable agriculture systems program, she took part in research in his lab, and worked on WSU’s 30-acre organic farm. She most recently worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Crops & Soils, where she studied the effects of a fungal infestation on wheat growth and roots.

“What’s most notable regarding Katie is the passion she exhibits in whatever she is doing,” commented Reganold. “Katie is one of the most conscientious students I have known. She is highly self-motivated, a diligent worker, and an independent thinker.”

With all of her experiences, Doonan will continue working with agriculture after graduation. she talked about her interest in studying and pursuing how food production, plant and soil health affect people’s health. This is partly due to her work with the Eggert Family Farm and her time spent in Ireland studying abroad.

“Not only did these four months teach me about agriculture in an international setting, but it taught me to think outside my background and challenged me to identify solutions based on the problem at hand,” Doonan said. “This past year contributed to my personal growth in many ways, but I found that my goal both academically and professionally is connection. I strive to connect consumers to growers, producers of different markets to each other, and ultimately preventative medicine to agriculture. With my diverse education and background, I hope I can relate with people and bridge the chasm to provide this connection.”