The Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation (AgForestry) is a leadership development program for adults working within and connected to Washington state’s agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. Good Fruit Grower asked Lindsey Morrison, a graduate of the program, to describe its benefits.
The Washington State AgForestry Education Foundation, established in 1978, enrolled its 38th leadership class in October 2015.
The program seeks to enhance the leadership skills of people in forestry, agriculture and natural resources for a better comprehension of industries, resources and communities.
Each year the program awards fellowships to 24 people from across Washington. Twelve seminars are held across the state over an 18-month period highlighting natural resources, agricultural and forestry issues.
One week is spent in Washington D.C. learning about national government; in the winter of the second year, two weeks are spent abroad learning about global agricultural and forestry issues.
In the fall of 2014 I began my leadership journey with AgForestry with my first trip to Pullman where I met my classmates and AgForestry foundation staff. It was a whirlwind of leadership lessons and what we refer to in class as “aha!” moments. I will never forget the takeaway from that first seminar: “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone,” a quote by Neale Donald Walsch.
We happened to be the last class to hear from Dr. Elson Floyd, late president of Washington State University. His words were inspiring, and we all mourned the loss of such a visionary with his passing.
Thanks to generous donations from people in the industry, AgForestry has helped produce many leaders in the agriculture industry in Washington. As a graduate, I have been inspired to seek out opportunities to play an active leadership role with my employer, Columbia Fruit Packers Inc. of Wenatchee, where I’ve worked since 2009. I’ve had many different roles at the company.
I was originally hired to work on orchard sustainability and that quickly expanded to include developing a food safety program for our company orchards and outside growers. For the past three years, I have been performing fieldwork with outside growers, and additionally, I recently began managing our new variety testing program.
The AgForestry program provided the skills and knowledge necessary for me to make positive contributions in the tree fruit industry.
The program also gave me new business contacts and expanded my professional network. In my humble opinion, the best part of the program is the people. Each and every one of my classmates has taught me a lesson or two or three. I feel so fortunate to be a part of Class 37.
My class included people from different ages and backgrounds. My group included growers, shellfish farmers and foresters. We formed a unique bond and made lifelong friendships.
I highly encourage everyone in the tree fruit industry to consider the AgForestry Leadership Program. It is within this diverse group that the magic happens. There is something inspiring about everyone coming together for a common goal. I challenge you all to find alumni to nominate you for Class 39. The deadline for Class 39 applications is April 30.
– by Lindsey Morrison, a Central Washington University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Additionally she took the core horticulture classes at Wenatchee Valley College. She has been at Columbia Fruit Packers since 2009. •
To learn more about the AgForestry leadership program and its alumni, visit www.agforestry.org