Washington AgForestry Leadership Program
The long-running Washington AgForestry leadership program has announced the members of its 40th class.
Sponsored by the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation, the leadership program helps participants develop the knowledge and skills needed to address agricultural and forestry issues.
“We have the most diverse group of class participants that I think we have ever had,” said Sheryl McGrath, the foundation president. “That is diversity in commodity sector, different types of natural resources, but also we have a wonderful gender mix as well as cultural mix, this year.”
The program recently adopted a diversity inclusion equity statement, seeking to represent the entire industry, McGrath said.
“We need to embrace everyone and everything, from age, gender, culture, background, ethnicity and religion, because natural resources really does include everyone,” she said.
Participating in the 40th class are Jason Alves of the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs; Evan Bauder of the Mason Conservation District; Tyler Broetje of Broetje Orchards in Prescott; Jaki Brophy of the Washington Hops Commission; Randy Burke of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources; Annie Byerley of 5B Farms Inc. in Walla Walla; Kevin Corliss of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Prosser; Ben Cox of Washington Trust Bank; Chelsea Durfey Campbell of Natural Selection Farms Inc. in Sunnyside; Erin Ewald of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton; Kirsten Feifel of DNR; Justin Hall of Nisqually River Foundation; Jennifer Hickenbottom of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Paul Jones of Wyeast Timber Services in Hood River, Ore.; Melody Kreimes of the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board; Abu Nurullah of DNR; Adam Poush of the Northwest Learning and Achievement Group; Rey Rojas of Empey Orchards Inc. in Mesa; Jacob Ruland of Northwest Farm Credit Services; Brady Stover of Integrity Ag Inc.; Gareth Waugh of Port Blakely U.S. Forestry; Deborah Wieseler of Flying W Farms Inc. in Mesa; Ryan Williams of the Snohomish Conservation District; and Lindsey Williams with the Agriculture Center of Excellence in Walla Walla.
The program is recruiting for its 41st class, McGrath said.
Class members are selected through an application and interviews. Over 18 months, they attend 11 educational seminars throughout the state on leadership topics, a one-week seminar in Washington, D.C., and two weeks in a selected foreign country. Members commit 58 days to the seminars.
Each candidate pays a participation fee of $6,000. Payment plans are available. According to the foundation, the program is valued at more than $26,000 per participant, with more than $20,000 funded by supporters of the foundation. The foundation is primarily supported by private donors. For every dollar contributed, more than 90 cents goes directly to program services.