Building a resilient Washington

Kathleen Rodgers stands outside, holding her award, which says "The Western Academic Program Section presents the Western Region Regional Teaching Award of Excellence to Dr. Kathleen Boyce Rodgers, Associate Professor, Department of Human Services, Washington State University, June 2023."

Last week was full of opportunities to see firsthand how CAHNRS faculty and staff are building a more resilient Washington. Throughout the latter part of the week and into the weekend, our programs and people were recognized for their important contributions.

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Western Region Joint Summer Meeting awards ceremony showcased how our faculty and programs are successfully building thriving communities, families, and individuals. Dan Fagerlie received the Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA) Award of Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for his leadership in tribal outreach and assisting others in developing partnerships. Debra Hansen was honored with WEDA’s Award of Excellence in Programming for an Individual for her leadership in bringing technology and digital services to her community and beyond. And Kathleen Rodgers received the Western Academic Program Section Western Region Regional Teaching Award of Excellence in recognition of her teaching efforts to build a well-trained, adaptable workforce that understands family relationships, family stress and coping, adolescent development, and poverty’s effects on children and families. Congratulations to our awardees and thanks to Matt Ziegler for making the trip to photograph the event!

During the meeting, we heard from several of our researchers and their students about efforts to ensure a resilient food supply and system with mechanization through research and collaboration with local colleges, community partners, and agriculture partners. Thanks go out to Lav Khot, Bernardita Sallato, Manoj Karkee, Chad Kruger, Naidu Rayapati, and Junior Gomez for taking time to meet with visitors who attended the meeting.

I made it back from the meeting in time to attend the Washington State 4-H Teen Conference Building Your Future Banquet in Pullman. On the trip back, Holly Neibergs and I continued the APLU conference discussion about the need to better capture the long-term impacts and change in conditions (i.e., health, economics, natural resource protection, etc.) for the lives of our stakeholders that result from our programs. At the 4-H banquet, our influence was once again evident as I listened to the participants speak about their goals and the 4-H program’s value in attaining them. The conversations reminded me of the first APLU meeting of the morning when Dan Fagerlie shared how the 4-H program was critical to his success as an adult, equipping him with the necessary tools and the motivation to reach higher all the time.

During a field day on Saturday, Vicki McCracken and I learned about the Kalispel Tribe’s commitment to partnering with WSU Extension to teach forestry and fire practices as part of natural resources stewardship. It was fascinating to hear from Ray Entz, director of wildlife and terrestrial resources for the Kalispel Natural Resources Department, about the intentional purchase of land over a decade ago with a vision of creating a demonstration forest to showcase management practice options and associated impacts. I know well the challenges Extension colleagues in California have in working with the state agency to view prescribed fires as an important practice. Fortunately, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources seems “all in” on wise use of controlled fires.

I am preparing for some summer downtime. Later this week I head east to be with family; I’ll be working remotely with vacation scattered throughout late this week and next. My goal is to see water as much as possible, and not in the form of thunderstorms. I do not anticipate posting an update next week but please know I will be thinking about what I can do to better support everyone in CAHNRS. Please take time to appreciate our independence and those who sacrifice to maintain it.