A busy Valentine’s Day week

Students and staff stand next to a cardboard cutout of Butch the Cougar mascot. A banner with the WSU logo and the text "Go Cougs" and "Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences" is behind the group, and the photo is framed with an illustration of a wheat field and the text "WSU CAHNRS Ag Expo" with the WSU logo.
Students and staff represented CAHNRS at the Spokane Ag Expo last week.

The group that attended the Spokane Ag Expo last week reported that there was strong traffic at the CAHNRS booth, and a good time was had by all. Let’s hope the high school attendees are inspired to call CAHNRS their college! Hopefully timing works out next year for me to attend the event for at least a few hours.

It’s that time of year when the weeks are full of Extension meetings and meetings to review the good work of our endowed chairs. The Washington Grain Commission Endowed Chairs meeting, which is later this week, serves as a good opportunity for me to learn more about the work of the Endowed Chairs and their teams and colleagues. Next week, the Tree Fruit Endowed Chairs meet to share their accomplishments. I am excited to learn about the programs.

We are also preparing for the Council for Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET) meeting in mid-March. The key activity for the meeting is Hill visits with our federal House and Senate representatives. Farm Bill discussions will be front and center in addition to support for Extension and Experiment Station capacity funds and National Institute of Food and Agriculture competitive funding programs, including the Clean Plant Center Northwest in Prosser, Wash. Our federal government relations team, led by Glynda Becker-Fenter, is busy preparing materials and sharing drafts back and forth with Vicki McCracken and Scot Hulbert.

During the chairs and directors meeting this week, we heard good news about CAHNRS faculty receiving well-deserved WSU awards! We won’t spoil the news, but we are looking forward to the celebration in late March to recognize our colleagues.

Gordon Murdoch reported that animal sciences student acceptance numbers are up this year from the past several years. Fingers crossed we hear similar updates from all units during spring semester. Scot Hulbert shared that there are more than 450 CAHNRS graduate students, many of whom are PhD students. These numbers go a long way in helping our rankings. I always enjoy meeting with the chairs and directors, whether it be to discuss good news or tough topics. During the meeting, Brandon Schrand and Sarah Schaub shared the impressive progress they are making on the CAHNRS website and the timeline for migrating sites into the new platform. A small but mighty team, for certain.

We also talked more about planning for the upcoming budget year. At this point, faculty positions approved for search but not yet advertised will be paused while we work through the numbers. Of course, this is disappointing for units that need the positions. But, with little flexibility in our budgets, it is the best approach for now. My goal is a solid understanding of the CAHNRS reduction plan by April 1. As soon as we have the plan in place for absorbing the reduction, better knowledge of our fall acceptances, and a solid estimate of funds available for positions, we can begin to post positions. This is also an opportunity to prioritize the advertisements and align the recruitments with funds available.

Saturday, I head out to the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival in Seattle to spend a few hours with some of our amazing master gardener volunteers. While not a gardener, I sincerely appreciate everything our volunteers do to promote environmental horticulture across the state. The volunteers are immensely talented, busy people who carve out time to serve as agents of WSU through the Master Gardener Program. Winter seems to be kept at bay these days, making travel a bit more predictable. I hope everyone was able to get out and spend time with their valentine this week!