Looking forward

View of an apple orchard with the Columbia River in the background.

This week started with a full day meeting with chairs and directors. The focus was on sharing conversations that units have had about the CAHNRS programmatic vision for building a resilient Washington. Departments and units have clearly put considerable thought into several ideas. I am eager to pull this all together and share with faculty and staff during the roadshow town hall meetings, then welcome feedback. A few highlights from the conversation include:

A strong commitment to building a qualified workforce able to adapt to changing employer needs and employment opportunities was central to the day of discussion. A key strategy to getting there is offering student experiences that offer unique learning environments through living labs, stronger partnership with employers providing internships, increased student engagement in research, and skill building and licensing.

Ensuring strong food systems that make safe, healthy food accessible to all was a second theme and focus of the day. Many of the ideas addressed expanding capability to advance food security, food production efficiency, reduce food waste, and improve quality attributes. Some ideas included campus-based programming while many of the ideas rely on investments in the Research and Extension Centers and community-based Extension programming.

Stewardship of Washington’s abundant natural resources was central to a number of proposals. Ideas ranged from strengthening stormwater management research, expanding pollinator research and management, supporting wildlife, and improving opportunities to reduce textile waste. Energy generation was an important aspect of this discussion as was improving soil health and adoption of related practices.

A strong commitment to supporting thriving communities, families, and individuals was evident in the ideas brought forward. Building community capacity through digital access, fire preparedness, recreation opportunities, and health resources were a few of the ideas that would increase WSU engagement and leadership in communities.

Climate change impacts and economics were threaded through the day of conversation. We identified new partners that included other institutions, agencies, and foundations. Ideas simultaneously met teaching, research, and Extension missions, often blurring the land grant mission areas. I left the day energized by the ideas and enthusiasm for the collaborations. There is more work to do and more conversations to be had. In the meantime, let’s celebrate our successes and plan for many more.