Leadership Lesson from AgForestry

Leadership Lesson from AgForestry

Recognized as the natural resources’ premier leadership development program in Washington State, AgForestry provides an 18-month, hands-on learning experience for people working in agriculture, forestry and other natural resource-based businesses. The League’s Deputy Director, Sara Higgins, is a member of class 42 and will complete the program in Spring 2022. Numerous other
Columbia Basin Project stakeholders have been through the program which just started its 43rd year. Below, Sara shares some insights gained at a recent seminar focused on the Columbia River and applicable to the work of the League.

We know the Columbia Basin Project is a multibenefit project. The value of the Columbia River to various stakeholders is also multi-faceted. Three strong interests in the river can be loosely categorized along the lines of:

  • power and flood control
  • fish and environment
  • agriculture and transportation

In a recent seminar, we heard from all three interests--which are not necessarily at odds with one another in every matter, although
they do have differing priorities. What was most striking about the presentations was that they all made use of credible facts and data, yet each generally (and logically) only referenced that which supported the advancement of their specific priorities. Consequently, in order to understand the “big picture,” no one interest could be solely relied upon for complete information. All three had to be heard and considered.

Similarly, the League has a responsibility to hear and represent multiple interests. The priorities of each Project irrigation district are different. The priorities of landowners in the developed areas and undeveloped areas are different. The timeline and steps associated with the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program and
Project completion are different.

Sara Higgins, class 42 of AgForestry

The outcomes of the League’s 2019 stakeholder survey served to underscore these differences and call the League to action listening and representing multiple interests. While the League’s limited resources made this a monumental undertaking, we have not lost sight of that call to action. Thanks to a partnership with the Columbia Basin Community Foundation, the League is now pursuing grant funding to bolster resources for outreach and education. Most recently, the League’s initial $25,000 success is increasing capacity to actively expand outreach and broaden the reach of current communication efforts.

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