Two new staff members joined the Northwest Horticultural Council in late 2020: Riley Bushue as director of congressional relations and export programs and Rhoda Benson as technical issues specialist.
This brings the Yakima, Washington-based organization up to a full staff, said Mark Powers, president of the council that advocates for the Pacific Northwest’s tree fruit industry on regulatory and policy issues at the federal and international level.
Bushue joined the council in October, after 10 years working in Washington, D.C., for recently retired Oregon Rep. Greg Walden on agriculture, natural resources and trade issues. He grew up on a raspberry and strawberry farm in Oregon and said he’s glad to have an opportunity to return to the Pacific Northwest and serve the fruit industry.
“I’ve got a background in ag and understand at a high level the issues for tree fruit, but I’m really learning the nuts and bolts of it so I can be the most effective advocate I can be,” said Bushue, who now lives with his family just outside of Yakima in Selah. “I’m really looking forward to growing and learning more about the industry.”
Bushue will wear two hats, working with the industry on export programs and building on his relationships with the Oregon congressional delegation to develop more support for tree fruit industry priorities.
Benson, a longtime resident of the Yakima Valley, joins the council after a career as an engineer for the Roza Irrigation District and brings decades of experience with the tree fruit industry. She grew up on a family farm and later owned and operated an orchard in Wapato. “I have a long history of working with agriculture. It’s always been my love,” said Benson.
In her role with the council, Benson will provide technical support to David Epstein, the vice president for scientific affairs, and support the council’s work on organic policy.