Work is back in full force

The top of an orca whale's body and fin in the water. Behind it is a rocky cliff.
While vacationing in Alaska with family, I saw a large pod of orca whales.

Work is back in full force. I did as little work as I could get away with last week while spending time in Alaska with family. I returned with minimal sunburn and very few mosquito bites. My phone has a new album in its gallery with decent photos of a large pod of orcas, a handful of humpbacks “bubble-net feeding,” and confirmation that the arctic tern, the subject of the book Migrations, can be found in abundance. We saw land mammals as well.

Scot Hulbert left me his copy of the book for this fall’s Common Reading Program, How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America. I am not a reader; it was my sister who had read Migrations and brought an interest in the arctic tern to the vacation. I am now only 20% through the common read, though the topics of food and inequality are often on my mind.

With fire season in full force throughout the West and far too close to home across Washington, it is hard not to think about fire’s impacts on some key attributes of a Resilient Washington: sustainable natural resources and wildlife; community well-being; and food production and security. During my trip to Alaska last week, climate change impacts were evident, including low water lines, receded glaciers, and many wildfires across the state.

The work CAHNRS does with partners helps address issues related to food security, including the growing inequality in food access. A key partner in our work is the USDA, through allocation of Smith-Lever Act, Hatch Act, and other “capacity funds.” We will be doing some work with other states to ensure that our federal decision-makers understand what’s at risk if these funds continue to lag behind personnel costs. Some of our delegates will visit us next week, opening an opportunity to remind them of the value and impact of capacity funds and share concrete examples of what is lost should the funds be reduced.

I am in Pullman all week, catching up on standing meetings with team members as well as meetings with various chairs, directors, associate deans, and the government relations team. We will brainstorm how to position units for the future to best meet the needs of our students and stakeholders.

CAHNRS welcomes T. Chris Riley-Tillman and Dave Cillay to their new roles as WSU provost and interim Pullman chancellor, respectively. It is hard to believe, but we are only a month away from welcoming our new and returning CAHNRS students. Many of our departments continue to engage committed and prospective students throughout the summer because as much as we are enjoying time away, we are excited to welcome this year’s group of CAHNRS Cougs.