History of collaboration and teaching leads to organic agriculture award

Two of a professor’s highest priorities are making new scientific discoveries that benefit society and teaching the next generation of scientists. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs covers both incredibly well.

Formal portrait photo of Lynne Carpenter-Boggs
Lynne Carpenter-Boggs

Her skills were proved last month when Carpenter-Boggs received the Advocate of the Year Award at the Tilth Conference, held annually by Tilth Alliance, a nonprofit organization supporting a sustainable, healthy, and equitable food future.

“The care and support Lynne has given to so many students is beyond impressive,” said Anne Schwartz, a longtime Tilth Alliance board member and Skagit County farmer with a strong interest in sustainable agriculture. “She engages with students from all backgrounds, guiding them through the academic and scientific process. That she does this on top of her incredible research really resonated with us. She’s very deserving of this award.”

Carpenter-Boggs has been employed at WSU since 2000, serving as professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences since 2012. She earned her Ph.D. from WSU in 1997.

“Inspiring others is always the hope,” Carpenter-Boggs said. “I know what I can do myself, but when I can ignite a spark in others, that will have further-reaching effects in terms of the amount of work done and creativity they bring to the field.”

Her research is focused on organic and sustainable agriculture, including soil health, composting, and organic cropping systems. Her interest in agricultural science comes from her desire to impact society.

“Agriculture is a linchpin in societal sustainability,” Carpenter-Boggs said. “Food production is critical not just to humanity’s physical survival but to who and what a culture is, and how they define themselves.”

“Agriculture is the primary way we interact with the land,” she added. “The environmental impacts and social effects are massive, yet all of that impact comes down to a huge but dwindling number of individuals who make decisions. Farmers have a lot of influence, and I think it’s critical that we understand what they need.”

That passion is another main reason Tilth chose her for one of its most prestigious annual awards. Schwartz’s experience working with Carpenter-Boggs comes primarily from their collaboration on a carbon footprint project. Schwartz said Carpenter-Boggs and her team talked with farmers about ways they could reduce their greenhouse gas production.

“The presentations were very user-friendly,” Schwartz said. “Farmers of all types and crops could dial in and see how to reduce their carbon footprint. There was no talking down to them or using technical terms they didn’t know.”

Schwartz is also an advisory board member of WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) and has worked with many faculty members interested in biological farming systems. She said Carpenter-Boggs exemplifies how CSANR supports faculty who are addressing critical production challenges in environmentally conscious ways.

For her part, Carpenter-Boggs praises Tilth Alliance’s work on behalf of growers across the Pacific Northwest. She regularly attends their annual conference, but was strongly encouraged to attend this year—especially the awards ceremony.

“That gave me a clue that an award could be coming, but I was still surprised,” she said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be seen, and gratifying that people have noticed the work I’ve put in.”

Schwartz said the choice of Carpenter-Boggs as Advocate of the Year wasn’t difficult.

“She’s been a delight and very easy to work with over the years,” Schwartz said. “All of her peers enjoy working with her and she’s garnered tremendous respect.”

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Scott Weybright, Public Relations/Communications Coordinator, 509-335-2967