Lunar New Year Tidings

Student touching plant in potato field
Scientists and students join potato industry partners to share projects and advances at the 2022 WSU Potato Field Day, held at Othello.

Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit, everyone! I was born in the Year of the Goat, which happens to have a good relationship with the rabbit and the pig. The goat also has a secret friendship with the horse. I didn’t do very well in equine science class. I did learn a bit about the zodiac animals of the Chinese calendar from graduate school colleagues, though not enough to fully understand why the relationship with the horse is a secret.

After a good meeting in Miami, I am back to snow and traveling in state this week. I will attend the WSU Extension Dryland Wheat Producer Meeting in Ritzville before heading to the Washington & Oregon Potato Conference in Kennewick. While it’s still early in my career at WSU, it does seem I spend a fair bit of time in Olympia and Ritzville. While at Michigan State University, I traveled to Saginaw and Bad Axe more often than other locations. Ritzville certainly sounds fancier than Bad Axe. I look forward to meeting farmers during the meetings this week, and hearing about the research findings of the faculty giving presentations.

The news is out! Tom Collins and colleagues from Oregon State University and the University of California, Davis are recipients of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2022 Innovator of the Year Award for their work on grape smoke exposure. It’s been difficult keeping this quiet for the past month while we awaited the award presentation at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. Congratulations, Tom!

I will meet some of our Master Gardener volunteers during a Zoom call this week. The volunteers are essential to delivering the CAHNRS mission — here, and in every other state. Faculty at WSU had the idea of partnering with volunteers to accelerate education across the state. Now, 50 years later, the Master Gardener program is a national organization with more than 4,000 volunteers here in Washington alone. I look forward to participating in several of the anniversary events throughout the spring and early summer. WSU volunteers are an important part of our future CAHNRS. We will be sure to make that clear as we build out the programmatic vision and operationalize with a strategic plan.

I continue to make rounds meeting the departments, with a couple on the calendar this week. These won’t be my only visits to the departments, but the initial meetings serve an important purpose of helping me get an overview of the work, goals, and challenges of each department. Chairs provided me with documents before arriving at WSU that included thorough overviews of the departments. The in-person visits put faces to the programs and provide context to the text, giving me a better understanding of how I can best support the people behind the programs.