Winter 2021 Newsletter

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Agriculture, Conservation, and Veteran Coalitions

When farming practices and conservation efforts unite, on-farm resiliency is bolstered. At the intersection of farming and conservation are veteran coalitions geared towards supporting and uplifting veterans as they transition to civilian life. Farming offers a viable career pathway for veterans, and with over 60,000 veterans living in Washington State and the average age of our state’s farmers at 59, veterans represent a considerable potential workforce to tap into as the next generation of farmers.

Supporting conservation stewardship practices in agricultural landscapes, the Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) have been at the forefront of this movement to strengthen farmland preservation, soil health, and our agricultural economy by engaging with landowners on a voluntary basis to implement incentive-based conservation on private land.

Born out of the need to protect and conserve natural resources for future generations, the WACD supports 46 conservation districts in Washington State.

Of the 46 conservation districts, the Spokane County Conservation District has been integral in engaging veterans in farming conservation programs.  The Vets of the Farm program encourages the exploration of agriculture and conservation education through programs and curriculum in partnership with the Spokane Community Colleges and Washington State University Extension which helps the transition from military to civilian life by providing farmer-mentors, education, and training.

In cultivating the said next generation of farmers, the Agriculture & Natural Resource Center of Excellence works closely with the state’s educational system and industry to ensure that the next generation of agricultural and natural resource professionals have the knowledge and skillsets to succeed in the rapidly changing agriculture and natural resource industries.

In partnership with the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs Veterans Conservation Corps, ANR strives to support veterans in identifying and accessing college programs that support their needs and provide a pathway that can lead them forward in the agriculture industry. Our Pathways to Excellence Program Guide highlights agriculture and natural resource-related programs within the community and technical college system, specifically marketed towards veterans. Also, look for the Veteran Preference indicator on our job board!

Through the support of programs like Vets on the Farm, veterans have expanded opportunities to pursue long-term careers supported through the community and technical college system, emphasizing the important role that veteran coalitions have in agriculture and natural resource industries statewide –as the Vet on the Farm program has been successfully expanded from one conservation district to six and counting!

To learn more about how WACD, ANR, and WDVA VCC are serving our state’s veterans as they pursue careers in farming and conservation visit these resources:

Resources:

WACD: Vets on the Farm

ANR: Pathways to Excellence Program Guide

WDVA VCC: Veterans Conservation Corps Program

The Race Against Invasive Species

While 2020 has brought far too many alarming headlines to count, the infamous “murder hornets” in Washington State left the country buzzing with curiosity.

Invasive species, specifically those that have the ability to impact local pollinator populations, receive a considerable amount of attention across the state from the WSDA, who hosts a webpage dedicated to the eradication of the Asian giant hornets: https://agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets.

Asian giant hornets, depicted by the media as “murder hornets”, are known to attack and destroy honeybee hives in a matter of hours. Consequently, if able to establish a population in Washington, these pests could have a serious impact on the environment, economy, and public health.

On a positive note, in October 2020, WSDA conducted its first-ever eradication effort of Asian giant hornets in Whatcom County, Washington. In collaboration with the WSDA, citizen scientists and landowners are to thank for their role in diligently reporting sightings to the WSDA and to Washington State University and the University of Washington, who have assisted in these eradication efforts.

This marks an immense accomplishment for the WSDA, though there is still work to be done to protect Washington State from the threat that Asian giant hornets pose to our agriculture sector and beyond. To remedy this threat, citizen scientists, landowners, WSDA, and many other organizations have set up an expansive network of traps to assist in the overall efforts to find and eliminate nests to help prevent any further spread into neighboring counties and states.

For more information on how you can make an impact as a citizen scientist or landowner, visit https://agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets

Introducing the Implicit Bias Institute

The implicit bias webinar series is provided by the Implicit Bias Institute in Workforce Education.

The purpose of the Implicit Bias Institute in Workforce Education is to provide a training platform for community and technical college workforce leaders, professional technical department chairs, faculty, staff, counselors, navigators, administrators, deans, and registered apprenticeship programs in Washington State. The Institutes provide working tools and processes to help participants become campus and program advocates of efforts to identify and reduce the unconscious biases that hinder student and faculty success and enrich the overall campus climate.

The Implicit Bias Institute in Workforce Education is a collaboration between the Washington State Centers of Excellence for Agriculture & Natural Resources, Careers in Education, Construction, Marine Manufacturing & Technology, and the Machinists. Additional support is provided by Perkins Special Projects Funding.

The first webinar on Wed, February 3, 2021 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST is an introduction and broad overview of implicit bias and how it impacts our interactions with others.

Facilitator: Dr. Rita Cameron-Wedding, Ph.D. Professor of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies at Sacramento State University. Dr. Cameron Wedding’s work includes training and keynotes on implicit bias for the Texas New Judges College, the National Association of Children’s Counsel, the Family Court of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Child Abuse and Neglect Institutes in Reno, Louisville, and Atlanta, the New York State Judicial Institute, Superior Court Judges in Hawaii and Illinois and the Michigan Judges Association, and lead facilitator for the Implicit Bias Institute in Workforce Education in Washington state.

Each webinar is 45 minutes with 15 minutes for Q&A and will be captioned live and posted for easy access. Complimentary admission. Registered participants will receive a Zoom invitation link prior to the event.

Who should attend? Faculty, deans, navigators, counselors, staff, administrators, human resources, continuing education and coordinators from the community and technical college system, K12 and apprenticeship.

 

Note from the Director

Happy New Year!

Our team at ANR is happy to be back in the office, and looking forward to continuing on the many projects that have come our way – some of which are included in this newsletter. This January is very different than those in the past, in a number of ways. The Washington State Legislature is back in session, and working hard to manage virtually. As citizens with interest or focus on agriculture and natural resources, now is a great time to stay informed.

Wondering who your Representatives are, or how best to contact them? Visit: https://leg.wa.gov/

Interested in Legislative Committees? You can see how they operate and what topics they are looking into, here: https://www.tvw.org/schedule-main/

The best time to get in touch with your local representatives is during the interim, as active session is extremely busy. With that, these resources during session are useful in knowing where your representatives stand, and where their focus may be.

This is both a professional and personal passion of mine – I encourage anyone who has an interested in the future of Washington to engage with their local representatives!

Stay safe and healthy!

Lindsey Williams