Two people stand near a sign, one on either side. Behind them are buildings, a road with cars, and a tree. The sign says "Washington State University Wenatchee Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center, 1100 North Western Avenue Wenatchee Washington 98801, Established 1937." The WSU logo is on the sign, too.
I visited the Wenatchee Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center last week.

I learned many things from our faculty as a result of attending the Washington-Oregon Potato Conference. I perhaps learned more about potato virus Y and mop-top virus than I will ever put to good use, but based on audience engagement these are clearly important topics for growers. I came away with a couple of fun facts shared by a speaker from Potatoes USA: For the seventh year, respondents to a survey conducted by Potatoes USA voted potatoes as the favorite vegetable, beating out both corn and broccoli. Additionally, one third of survey respondents stated they consume potatoes three times a week or more. Personally, I would have selected asparagus, but I am not surprised by the survey responses. Potatoes are an important part of a healthy diet and certainly important to Washington.

I have a quick trip to Prosser this week. Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Jennifer Lester Moffitt, is visiting. We are thrilled she is taking the time to visit Washington and one of our research centers.

Thanks to the Wenatchee Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center team members for the conversation last week. We spoke about a plan for the future, considering the past and present without feeling constrained by either. As we think about upcoming changes, we will continue the conversation. Change happens, so let’s view it as an opportunity regardless of how that change comes about.

Throughout CAHNRS we have many individuals working on policy issues related to health, agriculture, natural resources, and more. The Ruckelshaus Center represents a partnership between WSU and the University of Washington that’s designed to tackle tough policy topics. Currently, the center is recruiting faculty partners. I hope faculty will consider attending the virtual kickoff event for the Ruckelshaus Faculty Ambassador Network. Benefits of joining the network include access to paid research opportunities for faculty, faculty networking, and being the first to know about paid research and work opportunities for students. The virtual kickoff event is coming up on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 4 p.m. Faculty from UW are also invited.

Thanks to Carrie Backman for sharing the Wahkiakum County Eagle’s recognition of the 4-H/WSU Extension career exploration program and its successful partnership with the Wahkiakum School District and the Naselle/Grays River Valley School District. I enjoyed visiting our Extension team in Wahkiakum County and hearing about their programs back in the fall. I am thrilled that the program continues to make a big difference in a small county. Congratulations to the team!

I am optimistic that Punxsutawney Phil won’t see his shadow on Friday. I am ready for an early spring and no additional snow shoveling events. Another fun fact: A good friend of mine is a cousin of a co-writer of “Groundhog Day” the musical.