The program is intended to develop leaders who will speak for agriculture and natural resource industries during policy or legislation discussions.

Thirty agriculture and natural resource professionals have been selected to take part in the first Resource Education and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) Oregon Program.

REAL Oregon is a collaboration of ag, forestry, and fishing commodity and advocacy organizations, formed with the goal of developing leaders to represent their interests in legislation and policy discussions.

Greg Addington, REAL Oregon director, used a sports analogy to describe the program’s goals. “Are we developing a bench to go to?” he asked. “Who’s going to be the next county Farm Bureau president? Who is going to be on the irrigation board? Who’s the next commodity commission member?”

People selected for the program will go through five statewide training sessions, the first one beginning Nov. 14 in Ontario and concluding in March 2018.

The program will explore the diversity of Oregon’s geography, economy, and culture through training in board governance, communication skills, conflict resolution, government interaction, public policy work, critical thinking, media relations, professional presentations, public speaking and relationship building, according to a REAL Oregon news release.

Such leadership training programs aren’t unique; 34 states have something similar. Oregon’s program is modeled after Idaho’s, which will host its 38th class.

The program costs $5,000 per person, of which the trainees are expected to pick up half, either personally or through sponsorship by their organization or employer. The rest of the cost is paid for with “seed money” from the Oregon Farm Bureau, Wilco, Oregon State University, Land O’Lakes, Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, Oregon Aglink, Northwest Farm Credit Services and Valley Agronomics.

Of the first training group, 20 are from Northwest Oregon or the Willamette Valley, five are from Eastern Oregon or the high desert region, three are from Northeast Oregon and two are from Southwest Oregon.

Members of the first Oregon REAL class are:

  • Dylan Branch, Riddell Farm, Monmouth;
  • Kent Burkholder, Burkholder Farms, Albany;
  • Doug Grott, Wilbur Ellis, Corvallis;
  • Stuart Butsch, USDA Farm Service Agency, Salem;
  • Rick Jones, Cascade Timber Consulting, Sweet Home;
  • Lauren Lucht, Northwest Transplants, Molalla;
  • Andrea Krahmer, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Salem;
  • Erick Garman, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Portland;
  • Nolan Sundberg, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Eugene;
  • Macey Wessels, Barenbrug USA. Scio;
  • Jeff Fox of Wilco Hazelnut, LLC, Aurora;
  • Christina Higby, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Stayton;
  • Matt Mattioda, Miller Timber Services, Albany;
  • Lauren Smith, Oregon Water Resource Congress, Salem;
  • Karl Dettwyler, Blue Line Farms, Silverton;
  • Jenny Freeborn, Pacific Risk Management, Rickreall;
  • Helle Ruddenklau, Ruddenklau Farms, Amity;
  • Molly McCargar, Pearmine Farms, Gervais;
  • Jacon Taylor, Oregon Farm Bureau, Eugene;
  • Anne Marie Moss, Oregon Farm Bureau, Salem;
  • Scott White, Klamath Water Users Association, Klamath Falls;
  • Victoria Flowers, Flowers Farms, Midland/Klamath Falls;
  • Susan Doverspike, Doverspike Ranch, Burns;
  • Pete Schreder, OSU Extension, Lakeview;
  • Megan Thompson, Sage Fruit Company, The Dalles;
  • Sam Taylor, Pacific Ag, Hermiston;
  • Robert Waldher, Umatilla County, Athena;
  • Tom Demianew, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Pendleton;
  • Mark Kincaid, Lone Rock Resources, Roseburg;
  • Kyle Kenagy, Kenagy Cattle Company, Oakland.
October 12, 2017