By Allison Cloo
With the annual membership meeting marking a new year, Oregon Aglink welcomed in its new president, Pamela Lucht of Northwest Transplants.
Some readers of AgLink magazine may be familiar with Lucht after a summer 2016 article explored the Molalla-based transplant business and greenhouses she runs with her husband Neal and daughter Lauren. Lucht has been serving as the Chief Financial Officer of Northwest Transplants since 1990. At a Denim & Diamonds event in 2014, then-executive director of Oregon Aglink, Geoff Horning, approached Lucht about serving on the board of directors.
Involvement with Oregon Aglink and its mission of education and promotion fit naturally into the path Pamela Lucht has carved for herself. “I was excited to be asked to serve,” she says, “especially where agricultural education is concerned.” Service and learning have been intertwined for Lucht since high school.
“At one of my first workshops in high school, we were told to never stop learning. Learning to do new things, learning about yourself and your leadership styles, etc. This is one of my core beliefs.”
After running for class office in spite of childhood shyness, Lucht took that workshop lesson to heart and has continued to pursue opportunities to learn more about leadership and, as it happens, agriculture.
Lucht’s family had moved away from agriculture when her grandparents left a farming community in Oklahoma for California’s Bay Area in 1939. Lucht remembers her grandmother’s stories about picking cotton. For many families, the movement westward toward California and Oregon meant a journey away from farm life and toward other jobs. For Lucht’s family, that was construction and factory work for her grandparents in California, real estate once her parents moved to Eugene.
At the time Pamela Lucht was growing up in Eugene, she and her brother Douglas weren’t aware that their paths would lead them back to farming. A “city” kid like his sister, Douglas got degrees in computer tech and Spanish at University of Oregon but now works at Gingerich Farms. At Oregon State University, Pamela set out to study interior merchandising, an extension of an early interest in architecture and interior design. It wasn’t long, though, before she met her soon-to-be husband Neal and other friends who stoked her interest in learning about agriculture.
“Many of my college friends are producers around the state,” she says, “I had many opportunities to visit their farms and ranches, meet their families, and experience the farm lifestyle.” Beyond the warm welcome she received, Lucht appreciates the technical aspects that keep farms and processors running in Oregon. “I love farm tours and processing plant tours. I enjoy watching how machines work.”
Since attending OSU and co-founding Northwest Transplants, Pamela Lucht has doubled-down on her commitment to service, learning, and support of local farmers and rural communities.
Besides running the books at Northwest Transplants, Lucht keeps herself busy with other volunteer commitments like Molalla Drive to Zero: a campaign to reduce auto accident fatalities by 50% by the year 2020. Clackamas County chose Molalla as its pilot city, with hopes of expanding the program to other rural towns in the county.
If Molalla is setting an example with its drive for safety, Lucht is on a similar example-setting track with her other community work. She recently finished a project with Ford Institute Leadership Program, which focuses on building leadership in rural communities. Moreover, she has begun working with the Rural Development Initiative based in Eugene, Oregon. Their mission “to strengthen rural people, places, and economies in the Pacific Northwest” is a good match for Lucht, whose passion for Oregon agriculture and the surrounding communities is evident.
If it’s not clear already, Pamela Lucht is ready for her year as president of Oregon Aglink. She has no shortage of hopes and plans for the months ahead.
A strong marketing plan to boost membership will likely include sharing the benefits of the SAIF discount with potential members but also upcoming social media projects to help farmers tell their stories. Along with the Adopt a Farmer program, in which Northwest Transplants participates, Oregon Aglink will continue developing the adult education programs first piloted last year.
Lucht looks forward to working with Mallory Phelan and the rest of the board of directors:
“We have a tremendous opportunity to move the organization forward and capture some of the new energy that’s out there in agriculture.”