Staying the course

A man stands next to a tank of oysters with his fingertips touching the surface of the water. Behind him is a chain link fence and a building.
Thanks to WSU graduate and Northern Oyster Co. employee Jeb Sheldon, I know a lot more about the oyster business.

Thanks to Jeb Sheldon, a recent AgTM graduate, Ignite scholar, and employee of Northern Oyster Co., I know more about the oyster business than ever and have a strong appreciation for the challenges posed by burrowing shrimp and green crabs. Last week’s trip to the Long Beach Research and Extension Unit was great. I enjoyed meeting Laura Kraft, who is just under a year in her position as a cranberry and shellfish Extension specialist, as well as a couple of WSU Extension retirees. Malcolm and Ardell McPhail, cranberry growers, showed us around the research station and educated me about cranberry production in Washington. When WSU considered disinvestment in the research station over two decades ago, the growers decided to stay the course in their involvement and buy the station. It and the cranberry museum are a visit well worth making. Be sure to support the oyster industry while in the area.

Congratulations to the team at the Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center for providing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation participants a great experience on Friday. They met with representatives from the berry and vegetable seed industries as well as a number of WSU researchers. Participants were keenly interested in learning about the biodegradable mulch, vegetable seed production, and soil health research underway in our college.

I am back in northwest Washington at the end of this week. Before I head to Whatcom County, I will be in Seattle with a group from WSU and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to walk through plans for the new ARS building. We are excited to get construction started and committed to ensuring the new facility provides the functionality so many worked hard to gain over the two decades spent securing funding.

While things related to the Pac-12 are unsettled, CAHNRS can remain focused on its commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and Extension. We, too, need to consider options for the future and how best to position ourselves to serve our students, stakeholders, and personnel. What I observed in Laura Kraft last week was that even if you aren’t trained or don’t have a history in oyster or cranberry production, if you have strong foundational skills, you can pivot as needs change and opportunities surface. Washington and these industries are a big change for Laura, and she is thriving through that change.