Exciting future

A group of four stands in a hallway.
This week kicked off with a day-long retreat of chairs and directors, including (from left) Entomology Chair Laura Lavine, IAREC Director Naidu Rayapati, Institute of Biological Chemistry Interim Director Mark Lange, and Human Development Interim Chair Deborah Handy.

Congratulations to the horticulture department for its success in receiving a new faculty member through the Office of the Provost’s cluster hire program! Lisa DeVetter and Stephen Ficklin proposed a position to develop a research, teaching, Extension, and outreach program centered on addressing the renewal of knowledge and crop improvement of traditional plants for Indigenous people. We look forward to welcoming the new faculty member to CAHNRS, hopefully sometime in 2024.

This week kicked off with a day-long retreat of chairs and directors. It was the first time we had met in person since I joined CAHNRS! We had much to discuss about positioning CAHNRS for future success. There remains work to be done to tell our story with broad input from all of CAHNRS and our stakeholders. I hope faculty will take the time to participate, think beyond their own program and about how best to serve future Washington, and reach out to others to brainstorm. There is tremendous opportunity in Washington, and the time is right to be grateful for the past and focus on the long-term future, including what it will take to achieve our ambitions.

I am off to Finland through the end of next week to learn about forestry and the use of wood products. While I was a bit reluctant at first about making the trip, it is a good chance to engage more with Natural Resources Advisory Board members, Washington foresters, and former colleagues from Michigan State University. It’s also a good opportunity to learn a bit about a field that will help me with my current responsibilities.

Later this summer the entire Natural Resources Advisory Board will tour Washington. I look forward to that trip as well. Having worked closely with members of the forestry team at the University of California, I have some knowledge, but am eager to learn about Washington’s industry. Something the states have in common is the prominence of women in forestry. Lenya Quinn-Davidson, from the University of California, is a great example of a role model and mentor for other women. And our own Molly Darr is very active in promoting women in forestry. Take a break, kick back, and listen to her talk about her work. You, too, will be impressed!

When I return from Finland, I am eager to read through a regenerative agriculture vision for CAHNRS that is in development by a team of our top talent that work in this area. This week, an alum and respected scholar sent me a monograph with a brief chapter on regenerative agriculture that was authored by a group of great minds. I have had the pleasure of working with each of them at different points in my career, so I eagerly opened to that chapter. It started by stating that there is not a standard definition for regenerative agriculture. Rather, the concept represents a holistic framework designed to address challenges.

The CAHNRS team drew the same conclusion early on. In a recent visit from alumni and friends from an eastern Washington agriculture company, there was enthusiasm about the approach the CAHNRS team is taking; that is, to focus on what regenerative agriculture means in the context of Washington agriculture and how it can be adapted to other locales. This is a great example of convening strong minds with different perspectives to think creatively about the future. This is the fun part!