SALEM — A program dedicated to developing new leaders in Oregon’s diverse agriculture and natural resources economy is set to return for a third year.

REAL Oregon, which stands for Resource Education and Agricultural Leadership, announced its latest class for 2019-20, including professionals in farming, forestry, agribusiness and state government.

The class will hold its first three-day session Nov. 4-7 in Klamath Falls, followed by sessions Dec. 10-12 in Roseburg, Jan. 14-16 in Newport, Feb. 10-13 in Salem and March 17-19 in Boardman.

Each meeting will spotlight local industries — from coastal fisheries to irrigated farms and ranches — while focusing on professional development, such as networking and public speaking.

“I am very excited to get this group together and watch them grow as leaders,” said Greg Addington, REAL Oregon executive director. “This class will build upon the solid foundation established by our first two cohorts. We are continuing to fulfill the industry’s vision of building a solid, practical network of agriculture and natural resource leaders.”

Established in 2017, REAL Oregon is modeled after similar programs in other states, including Washington and Idaho. Classes of 30 participants travel around the state to get a fuller picture of natural resource-based industries, and how they are shaped by policies at the state level.

Bill Buhrig, an agronomist for Simplot Food Group in Ontario, Ore., and board chairman for REAL Oregon, said it is a proven model for developing new leaders while helping to bridge the urban-rural divide.

“We had a great response to the program this year,” Buhrig said. “The quality and diversity of applicants was outstanding and touched all corners of the state.”

Members of REAL Oregon’s third class are broken down by region, including:

Northwest/Willamette Valley: Randi Bural, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Salem; Tricia Chastain, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Gervais; Allison Cloo, Oregon Aglink, Sandy; Dave Coates, PCC Airfoils, Portland; Jackson Coleman, Coleman Agriculture, St. Paul; Matthew Cook, Cook Family Farms, Albany; Betsy Earls, Weyerhaeuser, Salem; Nathan Miller, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Salem; Nicole Ruggiero, Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, Tigard; Susan Schmidlin, Schmidlin Angus Farms, Vernonia; Andrea Sonnen, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Woodburn; Diann Washburn, Oregonians for Food & Shelter, Dallas; Alexa Weathers, Kerr Supply Co., Gervais; Jeremy Felty, Oregon Small Woodlands Association, Corvallis; Rob Hamlin, Riddell Farms, Monmouth; Chris Hedstrom, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Salem; Matt Hegerberg, Heron Timber, Sheridan; Katie Kissler, Hancock Forest Management, Gresham; Brent Klumph, Oregon State University Research Forests, Sweet Home; Heidi Leib, Boise Cascade Wood Products, Albany.

Eastern/High Desert: Jason Flowers, Flowers Farms, Midland; Kelley Hamby, Central Oregon Irrigation District, Redmond; Catherine Kiyokawa, Kiyokawa Family Orchards, Parkdale; Lisa Patrick, SAGE Center, Pendleton; Nicole Sullivan, Trout Unlimited/Owyhee Watershed Council, Adrian.

Southern: Brennan Garrelts, Lone Rock Resources, Roseburg; Gordon Jones, OSU Southern Oregon Research and Extension, Talent; Sean Naumes, Naumes, Inc., Medford; Whitney Schmke Henneman, Silver Butte Timber Co., Roseburg; Jolene Moxon, Modoc County, Calif., Agricultural Department, Malin.

Recruiting for REAL Oregon Class 4 will begin this winter. For more information, visit

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