Category: President’s Journal (page 1 of 2)

Passionate About Growing

By Megan Thompson

As I thought about what to write about for my first AgLink column and how I want to define the year ahead, I kept coming back to the phrase “Passionate about Growing.” This line resonated with me and the way I describe both Oregon agriculture and Oregon Aglink in particular.

 

Oregon agriculture grows such a diverse number of commodities and crops throughout a state with its fair share of different climates. Wherever you are–mountains, desert, Columbia Gorge, valleys or coast– and whatever title you use to describe yourself–farmer, grower, rancher, forester, fisherman–you are passionate about growing your products.

 

Like all industries, agriculture has its share of challenges ahead (political, social, and climate to name a few), but I feel by working together and tapping into our shared passion that we can get through issues in spite of our smaller differences. Even if the network of agriculture is small percentage of the Oregon population, this community is developing a strong and very passionate voice.

We all must find opportunities to share our story, and Oregon Aglink helps this voice through networking and education.

The Adopt a Farmer program continues to grow and propel the mission of Aglink of “growing Oregon agriculture through education and promotion.” With nearly fifty farm to classroom matches helping reach thousands of hundreds of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students, the program helps educate Oregon youth about how passionate farmers are about growing food and fiber. The farms and ranches in this program are directly working toward the vision of Aglink. You can learn more about some of them in this issue’s feature article.

This promotion of agriculture also comes through loud and clear as our board and members continue to be passionate about the crops they grow. Maintaining a lively and vibrant group of producers and processors over the years has been essential to keeping Oregon Aglink a relevant force in our state’s agricultural industry.

Over the last year, the Oregon Aglink executive committee has reviewed its strategic plan, added staff, and made some changes with relocating events such the Annual Meeting and the Denim and Diamonds auction and dinner. The work put in on paper and around conference tables can yield real-world and long-term results! With those successes squared away, I feel that Oregon Aglink is poised in such an amazing place for this year of continued “growing.”

Finally, the last way I viewed “Passionate about Growing” was looking internally:

How can I make a difference and continue to improve? If it’s a question you ask yourself, too, let’s plan together: set goals, get involved, seek out continual learning and networking. Everyone has different skills, strengths that can help continue the forward message of Oregon agriculture.

There are so many different organizations all passionate about growing Oregon agriculture. Find one or more that you believe in and get involved. Every little bit helps.

Our Extraordinary Industry

Wow! What a year of change and growth we’ve had for Oregon Aglink.

2018 brought us the first full year under a new director, a new staff member, a new venue for Denim and Diamonds, and a first step to finding a more suitable location for the main office. I feel positive about the path the organization has traveled.

Director Mallory Phelan has done a tremendous job at leading the Oregon Aglink staff and planning for 2019.  Changes implemented by Mallory and the Board of Directors were embraced by staff members Allison Cloo, Cate Stuart, and Leah Rue. I am humbled as well as excited to have these driven and inspiring women behind the day to day operations of Aglink.

Our new hire, Leah Rue, hit the ground running as she helped to oversee the event planning and coordinating of Denim and Diamonds. 

Although we use the same planning template for the event, changing to a different venue in Salem created new challenges and decisions. Overcoming the obstacles, we achieved a record breaking fundraising year, which speaks volumes about the support and generosity of Oregon Agriculture.

Most importantly, I recognize that we would not be up for the challenging task of bridging the urban and rural divide without the investment made by our industry members.

Our chief effort, the Adopt a Farmer program, was able to add seven new classrooms to the participant list. Moving forward, we are exploring opportunities to better serve and highlight our more rural regions across Oregon.

I am proud to have served Oregon Aglink and its membership. The board and staff are enthusiastic about celebrating our differences and working together toward a common goal: making Oregon agriculture stronger through communication and education. The diversity of crops, markets, and the people that make it all happen are unique to Oregon. I am excited to see how Aglink will continue to aid our extraordinary industry in the future.   

In January, at the Northwest Ag Show, Oregon Aglink will hold its annual meeting.  At this time, I will be saying ‘goodbye’ to my year of service as the organization’s president. Stepping into this role for 2019 is Megan Thompson from The Dalles. She brings great vision and perspective, having grown up in Portland before beginning her career in agriculture. I look forward to seeing where she leads us!  

Looking Back and Moving Forward

By Oregon Aglink President, Pamela Lucht

Succession is on the minds of many farmers in Oregon and across the United States. Who will take over? What will my business or land look like in twenty years? I’ve written before about our process at Northwest Transplants, where my husband Neal and I have started a transition already by including our daughter Lauren.

Oregon Aglink has gone through a similar process of cyclical growth and transitions. The staff at the office are going through boxes from an old storage unit that held decades of history going back to the early years of the Agri-Business Council of Oregon. You can read more about that process in Executive Director Mallory Phelan’s column at the end of this issue.

Oregon Aglink continually asks whether we are on track to meet our mission: to grow our state’s agriculture through education and promotion. The best part about that mission is that it is simple and flexible enough that we’ve been able to hold true to it even as times change.

In the same way that a family business might evolve over time from a small dairy in the 1930s to row crops to wine grapes and hazelnuts now, Oregon Aglink has evolved through different programs and methods of outreach.

For example, our name and the Landmark of Quality logo used to appear on food coupons and grocery bags. The Keeping Agriculture Viable committee hired design firms and film studios to get Oregon agriculture featured in magazine ads and television spots. These days we spend more time (and less money) getting the word out via social media and programs like Adopt a Farmer.

Our mission succeeds because our supporters, board members and staff Mallory Phelan, Allison Cloo, Cate Stuart and Leah Rue continue to bring new ideas and energy to the table that balance the steadiness and wealth of memories that our long-serving board members provide. A large board means we can retain members for thirty years while also bringing in new members who contribute expertise from their respective industries. We owe thanks to the people who help keep an organization like Oregon Aglink vital.

This dedication of people behind Oregon Aglink means we get to celebrate some amazing events each year. The Friends of Oregon Agriculture golf tournament this past August just hit its tenth anniversary, and on November 16th we’ll have the twenty-first Denim and Diamonds!  I’d like to personally thank our members and sponsors for their continued support, because of your support these events have endured and are more successful than ever.

Let’s end 2018 with a commitment to keep pushing forward and to do that by remembering where we’ve come from as an industry and, in this case, as an organization.

Many Hands Make Light Work

By Pamela Lucht

What are you reading these days? Does anyone else miss the days when someone might just send a newspaper clipping they thought you might find special?

These days it seems like there’s an unending pile of newspaper articles, magazine or journal pieces, online blogs or shared links to check out. In spite of the overwhelming number of things to read, I try to carve out some time to catch up every now and then.

So, here’s another recommendation to add to your “pile”! It is from the April issue of Costco’s member magazine, and was the cover story nonetheless: “Food 2.0: When Technology and Farming Converge.” Now, since Costco’s membership magazine aims for audience of suburban consumers, the technology at the four farms and greenhouses in the article might not be revolutionary for someone familiar with agriculture embracing technology. Even so, it was still worthwhile! I got to see how another business was handling the questions people have about their food.

For most of the people I know, life can get pretty busy between balancing business with family and “extracurriculars” whether that looks like hobbies, outdoor activities, or volunteer service. We don’t always have time to look around to see what else is going on around us.

We can miss out on a lot of things when we’re trying to get by day-to-day!

If it seems like we don’t have enough time and attention to spare for hearing other people’s stories, maybe it’s time to look at it a different way: if we listen to what other people are thinking and doing, we might find that we aren’t so alone in our shared mission and values.

Have you ever heard that old saying, “Many hands make light work”?

Telling stories can be a lot of work, and it can feel overwhelming to imagine that you or your family should add “Tell the story of farming in America!” to the to-do list that never seems to end around your farm or ranch. We hear all the time how consumers need to hear more about the people behind the food, but sometimes it isn’t too clear how we can accomplish that.

Well, for one, take five minutes while you’re enjoying your coffee in the morning or that half-sandwich you saved for later, and pull up that newspaper article, magazine piece, or website you’ve been meaning to read over. Allow yourself a moment to find the other hands out there that are making the work of agricultural outreach a little lighter already.

Now that you realize you don’t have to tell the story of all agriculture in America, or even all of Oregon, I don’t want you to feel discouraged that someone beat you to the punch or just relieved that maybe your voice isn’t needed now. Your own story is valuable to Oregon agriculture, and I hope you’ll read Mallory Phelan’s Executive Notes: Social Media Can Be A Team Effort to learn about how Oregon Aglink wants to help you do just that.

As the current president of Oregon Aglink, I hope I’ll get a chance to meet more of you and hear the stories that show the hard-working and innovative spirit of agriculture in Oregon!

Investing in the Future

President’s Journal

By Pamela Lucht

Watch out, my millennial is taking over!  Wink, wink!

My husband Neal and I are in the beginning stages of turning over the business to our daughter Lauren. You would think that with only one child the process would be streamlined. I’ve always been a person to embrace new experiences but coming to grips with how quickly things move has been challenging for me lately.

For me, it has been critical to remain positive by asking myself not what is best for me now, but what is best for the future. How can we support and shape our daughter into the business partner that we need?

Neal and I agreed that investing in our daughter’s personal and professional development would be key, and Lauren graduated from the pioneer class of REAL Oregon on March 8.

REAL is a Resource Education and Agricultural Leadership program that promotes leadership and service to people in our agricultural and natural resource industries. During the five month program we have watched her step into new leadership roles in the company with confidence. It also kept her busy and slowed her down just a bit, for which Neal and I were grateful.

Investing in the future of Oregon Aglink is also something I am passionate about. We must embrace change to remain relevant and worthwhile to our membership.

A change in venue for Denim and Diamonds is one new thing in store this year, and the board is looking to add valuable services for members, such as social media support. Our Adopt a Farmer program is also aiming to expand its reach to our Eastern and Coastal regions of Oregon.  Most importantly, I hope that you feel welcome and continue to share your ideas to shape Aglink into a valuable resource for its membership and the agricultural community.

It is a year for growth! With new Executive Director, Mallory Phelan, comes a new perspective and new energy, and I hope to bring a spirit of support and collaboration to the endeavor.

Stay tuned for an exciting year of innovation!

Why We Farm

It’s been a wet and slow start to the season here in Oregon. I’m sure by the time you read this article the memories of our record slow start will be forgotten. So with the objective of saving time I constructed a brief “multi-media” journal for this issue. (Less typing – more pictures and even a video)

Step one before reading this article: open your computer or phone internet connection and do a Google search for “start with why video.”  The video in question is a TEDX talk by author Simon Sinek.

At the beginning of 2016 I was working for an ag tech start-up company and collaborating with an international team on a project to clearly define the company’s marketing message and value proposition.  We sifted through multiple exercises to define the who, what, when, where, how and how much.  Ultimately the project produced the desired outcome.  During my research and gleaning ideas from the all-knowing internet I came across the video “Start with Why”.

It was apparent to me that the team had answered all the key questions except WHY.  Although not a necessity to market your company, the gentleman in the video demonstrates how WHY creates focused meaning within an organization and connections with its customers.

Inspiring urban Oregonians to have an enlightened perspective of Oregon agriculture is a monumental challenge.  Outreach programs like Adopt a Famer have created action through open-minded early-adopters, but we can accomplish even more.  Oregon agriculture and the Aglink membership are made up of diverse businesses and individuals.  Some know their WHY and other may struggle to define it.  Finding ways to distil Oregon Aglink’s collective WHY can be the catalyst to bridging the gap with the HOW of our Cultivating Common Ground initiative.

Some producers may farm and ranch for pride, others for the lifestyle and maybe some just simply because their parents and grandparents did.  Think how strong our collective messages would be if we could connect to consumers with inspiring statements of WHY we farm!

Welcome to 2017

As I begin this year as President of Oregon Aglink, I’d like to thank the membership, board, and executive director for the privilege to serve the agricultural community in this role. My overarching goal for the year is to learn as much as possible about the risks and opportunities farmers are faced with and find ways to help weave them into the educational and communication platform that is Oregon Aglink.

As producers, we’ve all seen the change in perception that the 98% of society has about the 2% that is engaged in agriculture. Change is familiar territory to ag producers, and their ability to identify and capitalize on it demonstrates our resilience and ingenuity. We’ve all dealt with change in the form of regulation or marketing dynamics of our crops. Many of these changes have a concrete and straight forward cause and effect.

A good example of change that I’ve seen over the decades is associated with one of my favorite events growing up on the family farm in the Willamette Valley. When harvest was winding down and the seed was in the barn, the excitement of field burning was in the air… literally. Getting the word from the local fire chief that burning one of your fields was a go set into motion people and equipment that transformed fields with tons of hay and chaff to a clean black slate to begin again with next year’s crop. The cultural practice had significant benefits to the crop and farmer.

The side effect of burning was obviously a temporary compromise of air quality due to the smoke it generated. My guess is that this side effect was perceived as a negative among valley residents who had no connection to farming. The fate of field burning was sealed on August 3rd, 1988 when a tragic fatal automobile accident occurred on Interstate 5 due to smoke and the lack of visibility. The state regulated field burning by phasing out the practice.

This left growers, industry professionals, and academics the challenge of finding new ways to replicate the agronomic value of field burning. Through research, trial work and good old farmer ingenuity, seed producers solved the challenge dealt to them by this regulated change. The challenge was clear and apparent. Farmers are great at solving these types of concrete problems with pragmatic science and economic discipline. Someone throws up a hurdle and we see it and react.

Fast forward 30 years and think about the risks and opportunities that exist for farmers today. What would happen in today’s society if the tragic events of August 3rd, 1988 happened today. How would our chosen profession be viewed and perceived? I’ve always held the belief that farming is a noble profession. Not every person classified as the 98% has the same reverence for the profession that provides the food and fiber that sustains them. Oregon Aglink serves as an organization to close the gap on any misperceptions. It’s here to communicate and educate what, how, and why we farm.

I highlighted field burning because, in my mind, it was a great example of reacting to a clearly defined risk and challenge. It’s a great testament to the industry’s problem solving abilities. Now it’s the time where I toss you some food for thought. Is our industry great at proactively innovating when risks and change are continuous, unclear, fragmented, and subtle? How good are we owning and promoting the realities of farming to our non-farming members of society? Is our radar up to identify these subtle and progressive changes and meet them with a mind-set of proactive innovation?

Traditional thoughts of what innovation looks like might take the shape of what happened in reaction to field burning’s exit: a clear and timely change-management to a challenge. I’d like to raise the awareness that some of today’s risks to agriculture require a constant, long-term mind-set of innovation. The innovators on the front line of our industry today that are communicating, educating and bolstering positive perceptions aren’t university stalwarts with PhDs but strong voices such as Brenda Frketich @NuttyGrass, Shelly Boshart @BoshartDavisAg, Marie Bowers @MarieB41, Molly McCargar @FarmerMolly9, Robert Saik @rsaik, Oregon Farm Bureau @OreFarmBureau and Oregon Aglink @oregonaglink.

Innovate every day! It’s a new year and a changing world.

 

 

 

 

Jeff Freeman, Oregon Aglink President

Courtesy of the Media Circus

I am entering 2017 with a bit of apprehension and dismay, courtesy of the media circus that our election year produced.  The whole election fiasco wore me out.  There was nowhere to run and hide from pre- or post-election polls, opinions, and results.   To top it off, we had to hear about the countless number of protests happening, whether they had anything to do with the election choice or were a random march disputing the rights of the oppressed.

I would like to put all of the malicious actions, the he said/she said rhetoric, and the excuses behind. Instead, let’s focus on having more respect for others and their beliefs, cultures, and ages. All three of those played a key role in the election and what happened afterwards.  Although the presidential race was far from predictable, there were moments of sheer clarity. Apparently, we have entered a new era of generational diversity and culture clashes.  The conflict is real. The largest generation is aging and taking their “Team Player” mindset and leaving the work force. At the same time, younger cohorts are trying to validate their own importance with a tech-savvy mentality and a push for obscure cultural changes.

As a parent, I see the limit-pushing and electronic-loving temperament in my kids, but what better way to witness age variance and character contrasts than within our own family businesses?  I, for one, work with my parents from the “Traditionalist” generation, our long-time employees from the “Boomer” and “Generation X” eras, and just a few “Y” (Millennials) who round out our staff.   These four generations cover seventy-six years of knowledge and experience, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and each aging just the same.

Now that I’m in the Boomer category and no longer just the bosses’ daughter, I’m in denial that my “out on a limb” attitude has curved more towards the “better safe than sorry” territory. A few years ago, my sense of invincibility would allow me to gravitate to the scariest ride at the fair, to crawl onto a roof to stage the best Christmas light display, or to look risk straight in the eye and know that—no matter how this turns out—there would be someone to pick up the pieces.  Now, instead of jumping first and asking questions later, I’ve become more concerned about the bigger picture: is my choice going to affect someone else?

It’s crazy business becoming responsible, and it is quite clear that everyone does it on their own time. Maybe, though, that mix of generations and sensibilities is a good thing.  Being president of this fine organization has challenged me to think out of the box and to step out of my comfort zone to try something new.  The Oregon Aglink Board and the wonderful staff is made up of very progressive and knowledgeable people all stemming from different generations;  I see this and am excited for a coming year that promises to be one hell of a ride.

 

 

 

Lori Pavlicek, President

 

Social Media Madness

Lori PavlicekI struggled with what direction I wanted to go for this column.  I was passionate about many things taking place currently, but I didn’t know if I could comment without pushing an opinion.  On the other hand, SEX is something people like to think about, talk about, and act on, but is too broad to write about (I probably would give inaccurate terminology anyway). Last but not least, I still don’t want to head into any political arena with anyone, but politics did come into play when I finally chose to write about “social media,” how it affects our industry, and what we can do to improve what is being said.

“Social media” is a phrase that we throw around a lot these days, often to describe what we post on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, to name a few. I, personally, have procrastinated up until last year from getting into the social media scene and slowly tackled the Instagram, Facebook, and most recently LinkedIn.  I had to enlist the aid of my 12-year-old daughter to get started on this endeavor and discovered that once you get signed up and ready, you are thrown into a whole new world. For instance, many organizations choose not to use “snail mail” anymore, so they send information to the members of the organization via one nice Facebook post. The most recent negative aspect of Facebook is the political crap (oops! did I say that?) that is being tossed around.

I enjoy Instagram, which is mostly pictures and short blurbs; it is more like seeing a picture book than reading a novel.  Instagram used to be the “spy on your child” media of choice, but according to my now 13 year old, Snapchat is the teen favorite way to drive your parents over the edge route. With Snapchat, your little darling can send a picture and/or text and once the recipient receives it, it lasts 10 seconds; I can’t even get focused to see a post in that amount of time.

Along with Instagram, Twitter is also taking the teens and young adults by storm. Your media whiz can post something and all their followers can get sucked into what has been said.  This age demographic takes in and spits out more information faster than any previous generation.

All of these forms of social media are all ways to communicate with your peers or anyone willing to listen.  The beauty of social media is the ability to spread information and get it into the hands that need it. At the same time, not everything you see and read on the internet is the truth. Unfortunately, the negative media is what people view first and react to.  Social media is how people form their opinions, so we want to help them form positive ones on issues we, as farmers, face.  Everything you post creates attention and how you interact with information shared generates a bigger footprint on line for that topic. Simply put, the more positive information being tossed around over the World Wide Web, the more people will gravitate towards a progressive view.

So, get on board and go out into the shared vortex of social media and convince your “friends” that Farming is Sexy and that we are doing the right things on our farms and ranches.  Post photos of happy cows, goats, and sheep basking in the sun.  Crops such as fruit, nuts, berries and vegetables make for great conversations, along with pics of the kids getting physical around the farm.  For those who are born with the gift of gab, “blogging” is an exceptional way to chat and give facts on certain subjects that others have no clue about.

Someone always cares what is being said: make an impression.

Lori's Signature

 

 

 

Lori Pavlicek, President

Happy Birthday, Oregon Aglink!

Lori PavlicekIt is time to applaud one of the best organizations dedicated to growing agriculture in Oregon. Fift years in the making, Oregon Aglink began as the Agri-Business Council of Oregon, and has become the bridge between urban and rural Oregonians. Even though the term “agribusiness” worked, it didn’t describe who we are or what we want to achieve. Aglink is more defined, shares specific goals and ways to accomplish those goals with our members. Turning 50 is not easy, coming from someone who has been 49 for three years, but we plan to celebrate agriculture’s past, present, and future the best way we can…by throwing a party.

Who doesn’t enjoy cutting loose? I love throwing on a pair of boots and kicking up my heals and this “shindig” has got some real potential to be a barn burner, a figure of speech considering Victor Point Farms in Silverton has offered up their beautiful grass seed farm and straw shed to host!  Even though it is an over 21 event, the presence of farm families, ag businesses, and folks who just want to celebrate agriculture is always appreciated and a welcome sight. In addition to good food, libation, and mingling with people from all around the state, we can expect an extra helping of some down home music from local boy and Nashville recording artist, Ben Rue.

The Board of Directors wants to encourage members from all over Oregon to join us in our celebration. We periodically hold meetings in different parts of the state, such as a recent meeting we held in Baker City. With my youngest in tow, we saw beautiful fields and mountain ranges made up of shades of green, gold, blue, and brown. It was like a living quilt spread out over miles and miles of terrain. The farms and ranches encompass large swaths of land with small and larger cities dotted throughout. It truly was an enjoyable adventure. My daughter had no idea we could drive so far and still remain in Oregon, but she really enjoyed the small towns and found that each one had a different story to tell, along with a Starbucks or Dutch Brothers. I encourage everyone to take the time, and a road trip, to see what our Eastern, Central, and Southern Oregon neighbors have to offer.

In addition to seeing the beautiful countryside we met locals that shared our vision and desire to introduce our industry to the next generation of urban consumers. We are fortunate to belong to such a well preserved agricultural support group such as Oregon Aglink. It reminds us that we have come a long way in defending our way of life through education and promotion. While most people are several generations removed from the farm, you still come across many urbanites who have relatives on the farm, or have some attachment to a farm or ranch. We come across this many times with the Adopt a Farmer program when a teacher, parent, or chaperone hears or sees something that triggers a fond memory or previous experience. That memory becomes the link to their past and a better awareness of the present, just as the middle school students in the program are creating their own connection to their food and fiber.

Hopefully, you and yours will stop in and partake with family and friends from across Oregon on August 20th at Victor Point Farms to celebrate with us. Tickets must be bought ahead of time and can be purchased here or by calling 503-595-9121. Let’s honor the past 50 years and get a good start on the next!

Lori's Signature

 

 

 

Lori Pavlicek, President

 

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