By Darlene Paterson
Empire Press Correspondent
Adam Poush, a paraprofessional at Chelan High School and resident of Orondo, believes any time people have opportunities to grow, they should take advantage of them. That is why he entered the Washington Agriculture and Forestry Education Foundation (AgForestry) program in September of 2017.
Poush, a member of AgForestry Leadership Class 40, graduated from the 18-month program this month.
“The first portion of the program was geared toward developing public speaking skills, learning teamwork, and working with the media,” Poush said. “The remaining seminars focused on learning about agriculture, fishing, forestry and societal issues at both state and federal levels.”
“AgForestry helped me develop better skills, meet new people and receive training in different areas of expertise,” Poush said.
The program focuses on developing leaders who “cultivate, communicate, collaborate, inspire and serve.”
Poush uses these skills as he works alongside teachers at Chelan High School, teaches two math classes, co-teaches a social and emotional learning class, runs an afterschool tutoring program, and is advisor to the school’s Interact Club.
“The skills I learned in AgForestry have made me a better employee,” Poush says. “Being exposed to a variety of industries and fields of employment enables me to inspire my students to cultivate skills they will need in the future and encourage those looking for possible study and employment opportunities after high school.”
The 24 students in the program toured various cities around Washington state, attending seminars focusing on both classroom and experiential learning.
In Colville, they learned about logging and forestry; in Yakima, they studied agriculture; in Vancouver, the topics were fisheries, tribal relations, and the Columbia River system; in Seattle they focused on the state’s transportation and shipping industry.
They also attended seminars in Tacoma, Wenatchee and Spokane. They toured the state prison in Walla Walla and learned about state government in Olympia. The class also spent a week in Washington, D.C., learning about our federal government.
Their final seminar was a two-week trip to focus on trade, economics, farming, industry, politics and native populations in Ecuador.
“We learned so much,” Poush commented. “We got to experience a different way of life, which gave us all reason to be thankful for what we have.”
The group toured the Amazon Basin, traveled the 14,000-foot pass over the Andes Mountains, visited dairy farmers and a chocolate farm cooperative. They toured a cheese factory, historic Quito, and the largest indigenous artisan market in Ecuador.
Another portion of required work for the AgForestry program is a public policy project. The class is divided into six groups with each group working on developing a piece of legislation that would either create or change a law at the local, state, or federal level. Though no groups were successful in getting their bills passed this year, Adam and his group plan to continue with their project and present it to the state Legislature again next year.
“Our project is to fund a study of the way Washington State purchases peer-reviewed journals,” Poush said.” We want to investigate two things: First is the possibility of providing state employees electronic and easy-to-use access to peer-reviewed journals in order to help them incorporate science into their work; and second — just as important — we want to research how reorganizing and consolidating the way Washington State purchases peer-reviewed journals might save state taxpayers millions of dollars per year.”
Adam’s wife, Hannah, graduated from the program in 2017 and now serves on the AgForestry board.
A new class begins every year. Class 41 just completed their first year and registration for Class 42 closed the end of April.
Anyone interested in applying for Class 43 should submit registration forms by next March.
For more information, visit AgForestry.org.