Capital Press | Spokane Ag Expo Capital Press Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:55:57 -0500 en Capital Press | Spokane Ag Expo Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum at a glance Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:37:01 -0500 The 2017 Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum

Adults: $12 ticket price includes the Spokane Ag Expo trade show, Pacific Northwest Farm Forum main session, speakers, seminars and free parking at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena (main front lot — West 700 block of Boone Avenue).

Youth (12-18 years): $8 each, and children under 12 are free.

The Ag Expo/Farm Forum Ticket is good for all three days of the show.

Tickets can be purchased at the Convention Center Complex in the Exhibit Hall ticket offices at both entrances throughout the week of the show.

Discount tickets for $8 are available at all North 40 Outfitters locations in Washington and Idaho through show week.

The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum events are all under one roof at the Spokane Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Spokane Ag Expo: Convention Center Exhibit Halls

Farm Forum Tuesday main session: Convention Center Lower Level Ballroom—300A&B.

Agricultural economic forecast: Convention Center Lower Level Ballroom—300B.

Farm Forum seminars: Convention Center Upper Level Rooms 401A-C, and 402A&B. Lower Level Rooms 302A&B.

FFA program: Convention Center Lower Level Ballroom—300A-C.

Career Fair: Convention Center Lower Level Meeting Rooms 302 A & B.

Free parking with Shuttle Bus Service: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena Main Front Lot — West 700 block of Boone Avenue.

Tuesday, Feb. 7

Farm Forum Main Session featuring the presentation of the Excellence in Ag Award and weather expert Art Douglas: 9-11 a.m.

Ag Expo: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Exhibitor presentations: Noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Farm Forum seminars: Noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 8

Farm Forum main session featuring Washington State University economist Randy Fortenbery and Washington Grain Commission CEO Glen Squires: 9-10:30 a.m.

Ag Expo: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Exhibitor Presentations: 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Farm Forum seminars: 10:30 a.m., Noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 9

FFA program featuring motivational speaker Amberley Snyder: 9-11 a.m.

Ag Expo: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Career Fair: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Photo contest captures moments of farm life Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:02:12 -0500 Matw Weaver Photographs capturing the essence of rural life will again be displayed at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

They are part of the Expo’s annual photo contest.

“This contest celebrates rural life, and we love to see all the moments that make up that life,” said photo contest judge Rajah Bose, a Spokane photographer and co-founder of the photo and video design studio Factory Town. “Whether it’s brilliantly lit, harshly gritty or just simply sweet, there is no better person to find those moments than the ones living it.”

The contest received 75 entries.

In the youth category, winners were:

• First place: Avery Hughes of Newman Lake, Wash., for “What Are You Looking At?”

“We were sure this was a painting at first as it seemed like a perfect composition,” Bose said. “We appreciated the photographer’s ability to get in tight on this image, which yielded a beauty that wouldn’t have been obvious in a wider image. Beautiful texture and color.”

• Second place: Anna Leitz of Spokane, for “Are You My Momma?”

• Third place: Hughes for “Grape Leaf Perspective.”

The Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Choice award went to Leitz’s “Are You My Momma?”

Honorable mention went to Hughes’ “Bovines at Sundown,” Emma Kate Bartels of Spangle, Wash., for “Snazzy Jazzy,” and Leitz for “Team Work.”

Judges were surprised to see fewer entries in the youth category this year, Bose said.

“Even so, there were some great images to choose from,” Bose said. “We love to see photos that show your life and the unique moments you see around you every day. Teachers and parents, this is a fun and educational way to capture and tell the stories happening around the ranch, home and surrounding farms.”

Adult winners were:

• First place: Alyx Hanson of Elk, Wash., for “Resistance and Resilience.”

“This image was a universal favorite among the judges,” Bose said. “The emotion was easy to read in the kid’s face, and there was enough context that made the picture quick to understand.”

• Second place: John Bartels of Spangle for “Early Morning Wash Rack Trip.”

• Third place: Steve Shining of Spokane for “Dusty Plowing.”

The Director’s Choice Award went to Ashley Hanson of Elk for “Cold Weather Women.”

The Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Choice award went to Sharon Lindsay of Spokane for “Vintage Harvest 2016.”

Honorable mention went to Ryan Esvelt of Rice, Wash., for “Morning Drive,” Jim Heywood of Chattaroy, Wash., for “Dance of the Harvesters” and Sue Tebow of Moses Lake, Wash. for “My Bulls.”

Bose offered advice for next year’s photographers: “Focus on capturing genuine moments, great light and beautiful composition.”

Free parking available for the Expo Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:31:26 -0500 Visitors to this year’s Spokane Ag Expo can again take advantage of the free parking available at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena’s Main Lot.

By parking at the arena and riding the shuttle bus, visitors can avoid the expense of finding parking at the Convention Center.

Parking Lot Hours:

• Tuesday, Feb. 7: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• Wednesday, Feb. 8: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• Thursday, Feb. 9, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Shuttle Buses Sponsored by:

Directions to the free parking at the Arena from I-90 Maple Street Exit:

• Go north and continue over the Maple Street Bridge to Boone Avenue (first light after crossing bridge). Take a right on Boone and head east through two street lights. The Arena will be on your right. Shuttle buses will be located on Howard Street, which runs along the east side of the Arena.

Directions to free parking at the Arena from I-90 Division Street Exit:

• Go north and drive past the Convention Center, which will be on your left, and continue across the bridge. You will now be on the Ruby Street Couplet. Continue north to Sharp Avenue and take a left. Head west past Division Street two blocks and take a left to Boone Avenue. Take a right and go three blocks; the Arena will be on your left. Park in the lot directly in front of the facility.

To get directly to the Convention Center Complex from I-90:

• Take the Division Street Exit. Go north to Spokane Falls Boulevard and take a left. The Complex will be on your right. Parking lots for a fee are in the Complex and the surrounding area.

Ag award adds category to honor lifetime achievements Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:29:52 -0500 Matw Weaver The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum are expanding their annual awards to honor excellence in agriculture.

In addition to adult and youth categories, this year the Excellence in Agriculture Award will include a legacy category.

For some previous nominations, the Expo board felt the people or businesses should be recognized for their impact and contributions over a longer period of time, said Dick Hatterman, chairman of the award committee.

“It’s for somebody who has contributed over a lifetime, 20 years, 30 years, to the ag industry,” Hatterman said.

“The importance of the award is to recognize people and organizations that have contributed to the success of the industry,” Hatterman said. “The industry has its ups and downs, but it’s the people and organizations that continually put out effort who make sure it keeps moving forward.”

This year’s winners will be announced at the opening session of the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, which will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the Convention Center’s Lower Level Ballroom. This is the fourth year the awards are being presented.

Hatterman said the committee is always pleased and excited to see which nominations come in.

Last year, the Expo honored Shepherd’s Grain, a farmer-run business, and the LaCrosse, Wash., FFA marketing team, comprised of students Jason Wigen, Abigail McGregor and Britte Harder. Wigen is now a student at Washington State University majoring in crop science. McGregor and Harder will graduate this year.

“It was just a wonderful experience, having your peers acknowledge that you’ve accomplished something, in their view,” said Shepherd’s Grain co-founder Fred Fleming, who accepted the award. “For me, it really was a humbling experience to have that sort of recognition. It’s one of those things that someone said, ‘Thank you.’ It was a real gift.”

The students’ marketing plan for Dixon Land and Livestock in Pomeroy, Wash., won first place at the FFA national convention in 2015.

Lacrosse FFA adviser Lisa Baser liked that the award isn’t specific to FFA members.

“It’s a regional award that any kid could have been eligible for,” she said. “It’s great that the AgriBusiness Council does that, especially because a lot of these kids will pursue a future in agriculture.”

Hatterman asks industry members to be thinking about possible nominations in the future.

“It’s important to have people involved and help leading the charge, and consequently it’s important to recognize those people who are helping the ag industry,” he said.

Who’s who at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:26:29 -0500 • 195 Industries

• ABC Hydraulics

• Adams County Economic Development

• Adams Tractor of Spokane

• Ag Cab Solutions

• Ag Enterprise Supply

• Ag Spray Equipment

• Agco Corporation

• AgDirect

• AGPRO Marketing & Manufacturing Inc.

• AgraSyst

• Ag-West Distributing

• Air Filter Blaster

• Airguard Inc.

• A-L Compressed Gases Inc.

• All Seasons Tree Service

• Allsport Polaris Honda Yamaha

• Alpine: The Starter Fertilizer Company

• Anderson Products Co.

• Ariens Company

• ATI Solutions

• Augies Ag Sales

• Barber Engineering Company

• Barnes Welding Inc.

• Barr-Tech LLC

• BatchBoy by Pump Systems, LLC

• Bath Fitter

• Battery Systems

• Bayer Crop Science

• Best Western Wheatland Inn

• BestSel Marketing

• Booker Auction Company

• Bourgault Tillage Tools

• Bratney Companies

• Brown Bearing Company Inc.

• Buck & Affiliates Insurance West

• Burlingame Machinery Consignments

• Busch Distributors Inc.

• Cannonball Engineering

• Capital Press


• Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf, P.S.

• CCTV CameraScan

• Central Lube Northwest


• CHS – Energy

• Class 8 Trucks

• Cleary Building Co.

• CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

• Cobalt Truck Equipment

• Coleman Oil Company

• Columbia Bank

• Columbia Hearing Centers

• Columbia River Carbonates

• Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

• Connell Oil Inc.

• Cooperative Agricultural Producers Inc.

• Cordex North America

• Crop Insurance Solutions

• Crop Production Services

• CropX

• Cross Slot USA

• CSC Exteriors Inc.

• Cummins Northwest

• Cutco Cutlery

• D & J Farm Supply

• Day Wireless Systems

• Ditch Witch Northwest-A Pape’ Co.

• Diversified Crop Insurance Services

• Doughboys Tools & Equipment

• DSI Recycling Systems Inc.

• Dutch Industries

• Easter WA Noxious Weed Boards

• Eastern Washington PTAC

• EconoHeat Inc.

• Edward Jones Investments

• Eljay Oil Inc.

• Ellis Equipment

• Embroidery Wholesale

• Evergreen Implement

• Farm Bureau Insurance/Western Community Insurance

• Farmland Tractor Supply

• Fasteners Inc.

• Fastline


• Flexxifinger QD Industries Inc.

• Fluid Applied Roofing LLC

• Fluid Design Products Inc.

• FMI Sales

• G & R Ag Products

• General Implement Distributors

• Giant Rubber Water Tank

• Gibby Media Group

• Global Harvest Foods/Mills Intl.

• Grange Insurance Group

• Great Plains Mfg. Inc.

• Greenacres Gypsum & Lime Company

• Greenway Seeds

• G-Tech Flitz/Flitz Intl.

• Hahn Diesel Performance & Tuning LLC

• Harold Ag & Mobile Products

• Harvest Solutions

• Haybuster/Duratech Industries

• Hefty Seed Company

• Hi-Hog/Shelton Corrals

• Hillco Technologies Inc.

• Hinrichs Trading Company

• Hortau

• Hosty of Spokane

• Hotsy of Spokane

• HUB International Insurance

• Hydrotex Lubrications

• I Q Technologies


• Industrial Communications

• Inland Power & Light

• Intelligent Agricultural Solutions

• J. E. Love Company

• JD Skiles

• Jim Wilhite’s Bale Wagon, LLC

• JK Boots

• Jones Truck & Implement

• Junior Livestock Show of Spokane

• K 3 Herzog Distributors LLC

• K102 Country

• Kaman Fluid Power

• Kaput Products

• Kenworth Sales Company

• Kile Machine & Mfg. Inc.

• L & H Seeds

• LaFarge Canada Inc.

• Landoll Corporation

• LDJ Mfg. Inc. DBA: Thunder Creek Equipment

• Les Schwab Tire Centers

• Lexar Homes

• Life Flight Network

• LiquiTube Marketing International

• Long Construction Inc.

• Longhorn Barbecue

• Magnation Water Technologies

• McKay Seed Company

• MK Commodities, White Wheat Report

• Morgan Enterprises

• Morse Steel Service

• Moss Adams LLC

• Mountain High Truck and Equipment

• Mountain High Truck and Equipment

• Mountain View Metal Works

• MPP Tools

• Multi-Trail Enterprises


• National Weather Service

• Nick’s Custom Boots

• North 40 Outfitters

• North Pine Ag Equipment Inc.

• Northstar Clean Concepts

• Northwest Farm Credit Services

• Northwest Farmland Management

• Northwest Fuel Systems

• Nu Skin Pharmanex

• O’Reilly Auto Parts

• Odessa Trading Company

• Oxarc Inc.

• Pacific Northwest Direct Seed association

• Pacific Petroleum & Supply

• Palouse Pulse LLC

• Palouse Welding & Machine Inc.

• Pape Machinery

• Pape Material Handling

• Pape Rents

• Pioneer West

• Pohl Spring Works Inc.

• Prime Attachments & Custom Fab.

• Quality Steel Buildings Inc.

• Quality Water Northwest

• R & H Machine Inc.

• R & M Steel Company

• Rainbow Springs Ranch LLC

• Rainier Seeds Inc.

• RCO International – All American Ag

• Reman Sales

• Renewal by Andersen

• Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers

• Rowand Machinery Company

• Ruseler’s Custom Creations

• S & W Seed Company

• Scales N.W.

• Scales Unlimited

• Scentsy Wickless Candles

• Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants

• Schlagel Mfg.

• Schulte Industries LTD

• Seeds Inc./Plants Of The Wild

• Skinner Tank Company (STC)

• Skone Irrigation & Supply LLC

• Smith Packaging

• Solid Structures LLC

• Soucy International

• Spectrum Crop Devl. Corp./Progene LLC

• Spokane Community Coll., Environmental Sci. Dept.

• Spokane Conservation District

• Spokane House of Hose

• Spokane Seed Company

• Spray Center Electronics Inc.

• Spray Center Electronics Inc.

• Sprayflex/Ag Trucks

• St. John Hardware & Implement

• Star Rentals Inc.

• Steel Structures America Inc.

• Stintzi Insurance Inc.

• Stor-Loc

• Summers Mfg. Co.

• Superior Steel Products Inc.

• Syngenta

• Systems West LLC

• T&S Sales

• The Concrete Doctor

• The Exchange Newspaper

• The McGregor Company

• Tire Rama

• TNT Truck Parts

• Touchmark on South Hill

• Tractor House/

• Trans Canada-GTN

• Triangle Ag-Services

• Uncle Sam’s Flag & Gift

• University of Idaho Biodiesel Education

• University of Idaho College of Ag & Life Sciences

• US Transmissions Inc.

• USDA National Appeals Division


• USDA, NASS (Natl. Ag Statistics Service)

• Valley Synthetics

• Vermeer Manufacturing

• Visit Spokane

• Vitazyme

• Viterra

• Voortex Productions

• WA ST Dept. of Labor & Industries

• WA ST Patrol-Commercial Vehicle Division

• WA State Department of Natural Resources

• Walker Mowers

• Walla Walla Community College

• Washington Ag Forestry Leadership Foundation

• Washington Assistive Technology Act Program

• Washington Association of Wheat Growers

• Washington Cattleman’s Assoc.

• Washington Policy Center

• Washington Trust Bank

• WaterFurnace

• West Coast Seed Mill Supply Co.

• Western Farm Ranch & Dairy

• Western Reclamation Inc.

• Western Trailer Sales Co.

• Wheatland Bank

• Wheeler Industries

• Whitley Fuel LLC

• Wilbur-Ellis Co.

• Wilco Disturbers Inc.


• WSU College of Ag, Human & Natural Resources

• WSU Spokane County Extension

• Xpain Solutions

• Ziegler Lumber (Ziggy’s)

• Zions Bank

Popular weatherman to offer his annual forecast Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:22:01 -0500 Matw Weaver Art Douglas admits he’s a “weatherbug.”

“I can’t put the computer down, I’ve always got to know what the weather’s doing,” he says. “I’m just fascinated with it.”

And, he says, “If you get fascinated with weather, the next step is, you obviously are interested in forecasting.”

That fascination with the weather has turned into Douglas’ life’s work. He is a professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., having started there in 1982 and retiring in 2007.

Other agricultural audiences Douglas speaks to include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Gavilon, an Omaha commodity management firm.

But Douglas draws a particularly loyal audience at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, where he will offer his forecast following the presentation of the Excellence in Ag Awards, which starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the main ballroom of the convention center.

Douglas began speaking at the show in 1989.

“The farmers like him and they trust what he says,” said show manager Myrna O’Leary. “The one year, we couldn’t get him and (we) wanted to hide. They were angry Art wasn’t there.”

Douglas knows what his farmer and rancher audiences want to hear.

“They’re not just interested in the weather,” Douglas said. “They want to get a hedge in the future and listen to what might possibly occur.”

Douglas said he is not particularly interested in the day-to-day forecasts found on television or from the weather services.

“Models are doing a pretty darn good job now of forecasting six to eight days, and they even get it right sometimes out to two weeks,” he said. “But the real challenge continues to be the next month to three months.”

At that point, numerical models still have a tough time predicting the weather, Douglas said.

“The reality is, it’s a very complex science,” he said. “But to me it’s challenging.”

In December, Douglas said he expected colder weather than the last three or four years, with below-normal precipitation and lower snow levels.

“The question is, is there enough soil moisture in the ground to hold it through a cold, dry winter?” he said. “Are you going to be able to keep snow on the ground? It’ll be cold, but are we going to get enough snow storms to keep protection on the ground?”

AgriBusiness Council continues to evolve Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:04:06 -0500 Matw Weaver Greater Spokane Incorporated is coming off a “transformational” year and will continue to evolve as it speaks for regional agriculture, the leader of the organization’s AgriBusiness Council says.

Council chairman Jay Allert welcomed the arrival of Todd Mielke, GSI’s chief executive officer, who will help advocate for agriculture in Olympia and Washington, D.C.

“That’s very encouraging, rewarding and good for the industry,” Allert said.

The AgriBusiness Council falls under the GSI umbrella. Mielke joined GSI in February 2016.

Mielke told the Capital Press that GSI’s priorities included helping local businesses find applicants for jobs; keeping the public aware of agriculture’s innovations, challenges and opportunities; and addressing increased local regulations.

“We’re dealing with commodities that have worldwide competition, and the slightest amount of regulation that puts them at a competitive disadvantage has extreme ramifications with their ability to compete and be profitable,” Mielke said.

Allert pointed to What’s Upstream billboards funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, which incorrectly condemned agriculture as polluters, as a reason agriculture has to be involved in the process.

“We can’t ever let up, obviously,” he said.

Far West Agribusiness Association executive director Jim Fitzgerald is taking on some of the duties of longtime agriculture advocate Jack Silzel, who represents the agribusiness council on the chamber’s public policy committee.

They are “two great, great resources for agriculture to be representing us,” Allert said.

The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum remains the organization’s “Cadillac” for showcasing the industry, Allert said.

Allert hopes even more people become involved, building on existing efforts.

“AgriBusiness Council has evolved, and has been evolving for several years,” Allert said. “We have a great position of representing the industry with Washington’s second-largest business organization, so we’re thrilled about that.”

Fortenbery, Squires to discuss markets during economic forecast Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:09:25 -0500 Matw Weaver The outlook for wheat prices and the domestic and overseas market factors that impact them will be the topics during this year’s Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum economic forecast.

Washington State University economics professor Randy Fortenbery and Washington Grain Commission CEO Glen Squires will offer their analysis of the ever-changing outlook for the domestic economy and for trade.

Their presentation will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the convention center’s lower level ballroom.

Important factors to watch in 2017 will be global supply, production in competing wheat-growing countries, weather, export competition and currency fluctuations, Squires said.

Squires recommends farmers also watch global economic conditions and U.S. trade policy.

“There were many statements made through the election process,” he said. “We certainly are interested in ensuring we have good trading relations with Asia and Central and South America.”

President-elect Donald Trump has said he will scuttle the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes Japan, one of the largest customers for Pacific Northwest wheat. The trade treaty also includes Mexico, Canada and other Pacific Rim nations.

Squires also plans to give a world market update.

“The local price is affected by a lot of factors,” he said.

Rodeo rider to share inspirational story with FFA members Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:11:40 -0500 Matw Weaver FFA students at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum will hear from an inspiring keynote speaker who will tell them about her journey back from a devastating truck accident to become a competitive rodeo rider and state FFA president.

Her name is Amberley Snyder. She is a barrel racer, breakaway roper and motivational speaker from Utah.

In 2010 she was involved in an accident while on her way to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo. Driving from her home in Utah through Sinclair, Wyo., she looked down at a map. A few seconds later, she looked up and realized her truck had drifted and was heading toward a metal beam.

In an effort to get back to her lane, Snyder overcorrected. Her truck slid off the road and rolled, ejecting her. She slammed into a fence post that broke her back. She immediately lost all feeling in her legs.

Snyder’s doctor told her she would never regain use of her legs, according to Snyder’s website.

“The top priority for Amberley was not even to walk, but to ride her horses again,” her website states.

Eighteen months later, she was riding again.

Snyder figured out how to barrel race using a seatbelt and straps to hold her in place. She competes in both barrel racing and breakaway roping.

She says her favorite part of barrel racing is the combination of competition, speed and horses.

“How can you not love it?” she said in an email to the Capital Press.

She doesn’t find it hard to talk about the accident.

“I feel that I have a purpose to serve,” she said. She hopes to tell FFA members “that they can overcome the obstacles in their lives.”

Snyder was Utah FFA’s state president in 2009-2010.

“I am a speaker because of FFA,” she said.

Pacific Northwest Farm Forum board member Mike Poulson recommended Snyder for the event.

“I thought she was a very good inspirational speaker for those kids,” he said. “She’s a young person who’s gone through some tremendous adversity and still has a positive attitude.”

Snyder graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education in 2015. She is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and competes on the Utah State University rodeo team.

She plans to continue to pro rodeo and hopes to make the Wilderness Circuit finals, and one day the National Finals Rodeo.

“I am so thankful for the support I have been given to be where I am today,” she said.


Longtime Expo director prepares to step back Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:06:42 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — When she first started with the Spokane Ag Expo, somebody told Myrna O’Leary that he didn’t expect the show to last another five years.

That was in August 1988.

“Not on my watch,” she said.

Now, after nearly three decades, O’Leary has decided this is her last year as the show’s director.

“I just feel it’s time for somebody else to take over,” she said.

O’Leary plans to serve in a consulting or co-director capacity during the 2018 show, which will be her 30th, and help with the transition to a new director.

“It’s going to be tough, because I love this job and love working with all of the agriculture people, farmers, exhibitors,” she said. “When you work this job as long as I have, you develop friendships. Show week is not only kind of a reunion for the attendees, it is for me, too.”

“It’s sad, but we knew it was coming,” said longtime Expo board member Bill Nelson, of Spokane Valley. “She puts her whole heart and soul into it. It’s because of Myrna this show has been so successful.”

O’Leary spent 14 years as assistant director of the Expo and 15 as director.

She takes pride in keeping the show running, profitable and all of the exhibitor booths sold out for many years.

“The show’s always a challenge to keep something fresh,” she said. “You have to have the machinery, the tires to kick, but it’s a challenge to get something new there every year. That marriage of the two makes the show successful.”

In recent years, finding volunteers has become a challenge, as many longtime helpers have retired.

Volunteer numbers average roughly 100 the week of the Expo. O’Leary also depends on volunteers to help determine the year’s hottest topics.

“They’re the ones that come up with all of this, and then I sew it or glue it all together to be the show,” she said.

For the next director, O’Leary recommends having a good team of board and committee members.

“Work with them where you listen to them and they listen to you, where you’re a partnership,” she said. “I’m so successful behind the scenes (because) I check, double-check and triple-check everything.”

O’Leary grew up at Spokane’s city limits, across the street from a large chicken farm. Her family then lived in Colfax, Wash., for a few years before returning.

She married into a cattle ranching family. Her jobs have included working at Spokane Produce and running a seed-packaging machine for Lilly Miller.

“I’ve always kind of had my hands in agriculture without even realizing it, one way or another,” she said. “Ag was all around us. We knew agriculture was important. Sunday drives were into the country. Back then, Spokane was the ag hub. And still is, but people don’t realize it.”

Cheney, Wash., farmer and Expo board member David Dobbins thanked O’Leary for all of her work behind the scenes, and spoke of the need for more volunteers.

“I think a lot of younger-generation farmers take it for granted that shows like Ag Expo are around,” he said.

Board member Nelson is hopeful for the future.

“There’s a lot of work to do and there’s changes to be made,” he said, noting O’Leary and the board work each year to keep the show fresh. “As long as we continue on that path and keep it a farm show, I think it’s going to be successful for who knows how long.”

O’Leary has a little parting advice for farmers that she learned over the last three decades.

“Speak for yourself, and help those who are speaking for you,” she said. “If you don’t step up and say, ‘What about us? You need to know about us,’ people think food just comes from the grocery store. People don’t realize what it takes to be a farmer.”

Event plants seeds for future ag careers Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:58:57 -0500 Matw Weaver The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum wants to inspire the next generation of agricultural career seekers.

The annual “Connecting Students with AgriBusiness 2017” career fair will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Expo.

According to Expo organizers, the event is designed to inform high school students about business careers in agriculture.

Business people that participate at the career fair include accountants, lawyers, marketers, bankers, real estate brokers, high-technology experts, sales representatives and managers.

Tim Cobb, broker with Hatley/Cobb Farmland Management and Real Estate in Spokane, has participated in the career fair since it began at the Expo in 2015.

“It is important to look to the future in our industry and the career fair helps students — the actual future of the industry — to consider the many options available in agriculture,” Cobb told the Capital Press.

Cobb recommends high school students prepare for the career fair by bringing three questions specific to their field of choice.

They could be prepared by having done some research on agricultural careers or the companies at the event, he said.

“I am looking for forward-thinking, goal-setting, planning-type people who have some interest in how to continue to bring technology into agriculture,” Cobb said. “Beyond that, I am looking for hard workers who will be honest and upfront about their expectations.”

Cobb’s business offers internships to college students. He also invites students in college or trade school to meet with the businesses at the career fair.

Cobb sees value in providing the career fair a place to grow and for people to make connections.

“These are early seeds and many things may change before an eventual hire or partnership,” he said. “The value comes in helping the students think about the future and what that future may look like for them inside your business organization.”

Volunteer remembers early days of Spokane Ag Expo Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:54:34 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — Ernie Becker was involved in the early days of the Spokane Ag Expo, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

“As I remember, the first two Expos, we hired outside management,” he said. “(When) we decided we had learned enough, we decided we could put on the show ourselves.”

Becker was a member of the Agricultural Bureau and chamber of commerce — now called the Greater Spokane Incorporated AgriBusiness Council — when they decided to start the Expo.

“We had a lot of interest in it,” he said. “It seemed like it would be a go from the beginning, and I think it’s proved out to be so.”

The Expo gives farmers a chance to see things they wouldn’t otherwise see, he said.

Exhibitors and equipment dealers appreciate the show because it provides an enthusiastic audience.

The retired certified public accountant can still be seen volunteering at the Expo each year.

“It’s the type of show that you have to have some interest in farming to enjoy,” he said.

Becker’s father was a farmer in Colton, Wash., raising “a little bit of everything,” including grain and livestock — cattle, dairy cows and chickens.

“Anything we could make a dollar on,” he said.

Becker was managing partner at McFarland and Alton for about 40 years before he retired in 1993. During that time he did a “fair amount” of work with farmers, he said.

Becker, 88, still volunteers at the Expo, although he missed the 2016 Expo due to a “bad cold.”

How has the Expo changed since the early days?

Becker said one big change was moving into the Convention Center, allowing the event to take place at a single location.

The technology has also changed, he said, and the industry along with it.

“I think it’s going to follow the technology,” he said of the Expo’s future.

Involvement in the Expo runs in the Becker family. His son Matt has been involved with the Expo for more than 20 years, with his father’s encouragement. He is also a past chairman of the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum committee, and is now with Northwest Farm Credit Services.

“His influence has been very deep and involved,” Matt Becker said of his father.

Matt Becker enjoys seeing his father volunteering at the Expo.

“I feel great when I see him and proud that he’s still involved,” he said.

Ernie Becker plans to continue his volunteer work at the Expo.

“As long as I’m able,” he said.