Student successes

Two people stand, dressed in graduation caps and gowns, holding a diploma folder. Behind them are a few other people dressed similarly, as well as a large crowd sitting in the stands.
Congratulations to the CAHNRS graduates who were recognized at Saturday’s commencement ceremony!

Congratulations to the 66 undergraduates, 12 master’s students, and 18 doctoral students from CAHNRS who were recognized at Saturday’s commencement ceremony! We will miss all our graduates and wish each of you much success in your next steps!

It has been a great semester for CAHNRS students! Not only was our first-year undergraduate enrollment up by over 25% compared to the 2022 fall semester, bringing new energy to campuses, but our students continue to impress.

Recently, School of Economic Sciences doctoral student Suhina Deol was named a 2024 Farm Foundation Agricultural Scholar; a prestigious recognition! Last week, I attended the Washington State Dairy Federation meeting. There I heard Allison Herrick, a doctoral student in Holly Neibergs’ lab, provide an overview and update on research identifying productivity traits and genes in dairy cows, which has involved working closely with farms across the state. Last week, Animal Sciences Graduate Student Association members received the 2023 College Aggies Online Excellence Award; awarded to clubs who complete at least three challenges during the program period.

On Friday, Scot Hulbert and I were fortunate to visit the Yakima County Extension office and learn of its great collaboration with human development department interns and graduate students to advance the work with 4-H youth in the area. Their efforts have paid off! Last month, five Yakima County 4-H members received the American Youth Foundation National Leadership Award! Scot and I had a wonderful time meeting with the team in the Yakima County Extension office! What an impressive program the small, but mighty, team has! Their enthusiasm is infectious. I can only imagine how this office and team could have broadened impacts on the region with more colleagues and resources. Like much of CAHNRS, the group punches above its weight. Alison White and Jenny Loyd have a great vision for youth programming to serve both club and special interest programming with just a bit more capacity. When I think of the number of Washington youth reached by 4-H compared to states twice the size, I am in awe.

I particularly appreciate how Holly Lacell has adapted to being a one-person Yakima County SNAP-Ed program by focusing on policy, systems, and environment. I can’t help but wonder what more could be accomplished if the region had four of her. Patty Ratzlaff shared all of the Master Gardener Program events in Kittitas and Yakima Counties. Given the expansion of people, agriculture, and other business into the area (current and projected) it is increasingly important that homeowners are educated on ways to reduce environmental impact in the home garden, construct Firewise landscapes/yards, and protect against the spread of pests and diseases to commercial agriculture. I know the program is stretched thin but see the potential it has to make a bigger difference for the region if it could expand. I left the visit so impressed and excited for this team!

This week I had a chance to share the great work of CAHNRS with a few of our state’s elected officials. Thanks to Chris Mulick and Connor Haggerty for accompanying me, and thank you to Cat Amortegui for her behind-the-scenes work to prepare me and handle logistics. We have a great story to tell, and no one wants to be a best-kept secret. Meetings have begun to slow a bit while everyone catches up on emails and checks items off the to-do list before some much-needed time with family and friends.

As part of year-end planning, many of us are thinking about year-end giving. I hope that supporting your favorite CAHNRS program, including numerous opportunities to support our amazing students, will be top of mind. If you’d like to know about year-end gift options, our development team would be happy to speak with you (509-335-2243) or you can make a gift online.

I am working remotely next week, trying to get ahead of the travel rush. Wish me luck with the airlines this weekend!