Raising awareness

Evan Henning, 2019 Washington Wheat Ambassador

Wheat Ambassador sees a side of ag that doesn’t take place on a farm

By Evan Henning

Waking up early Tuesday morning, I didn’t know what to expect as I was grabbing my bags and getting into the car to head to the airport. I was very excited, and I couldn’t wait to experience the trip to Olympia representing the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) as a wheat ambassador. After getting through security, I met up with Lacey Miller, Lori Williams, Michelle Hennings, Jim White and Randy Suess who is our current Whitman County Wheat Growers’ president.

Tuesday was spent traveling as a group, flying from Spokane to Seattle. Once in Seattle, we drove a rental car down to Olympia where we would spend the next three days, meeting new people, sharing our priority list/hot sheet and educating the legislators on many issues. In the evening we met for dinner and set our agenda by making the appropriate appointments of who would meet with members of the House and Senate the following day.

Wednesday morning came rolling around, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled about what the day had in store for me. My first appointment was to meet Sen. Judy Warnick. I really enjoyed her input on the topics that we shared with her, including her ideas on pesticide safety issues in Washington.

Next, I met with Rep. Joe Schmick. The topic I most enjoyed going through with him was the preservation of the lower Snake River dams and talking in general about farming in Whitman County. I also enjoyed learning about the legislative process and the history of the capitol building itself. I was fortunate enough to be in on meetings with many representatives and senators from districts all over the state. 

I was honored to spend extra time with Sen. Mark Schoesler. Lacey Miller, WAWG President Jeff Shawver and I were invited to dine in the legislative cafeteria for our lunch hour. It was nice to visit and share information about farming. After lunch, we met with Sen. Schoesler and discussed agricultural issues. I really enjoyed the amount of time he spent discussing his views on them. Most of my time Wednesday and Thursday morning was spent in and out of meetings. It was amazing to participate with the wheat growers, lobbying for our agricultural issues. Having the opportunity to listen in on some of the discussions about current problems that agriculture is facing and sharing some of my own opinions was very valuable. 

 When I first went into the meetings, I wasn’t quite certain what some of our agriculture issues were really about, but after listening and paying close attention, I felt that I really learned a lot about the carbon footprint issue and the important role dams have for wheat to travel efficiently from the fields to Portland. When I was in one of my last meetings, I thought to myself, “What an incredible experience this has been!”, not only getting to travel to the capital, but learning about some of the major issues the wheat industry faces. That was a huge eye opener for me.

Finally, when it was time to leave, I was extremely grateful for the time and the people with whom I had spent the past few days. Being a wheat ambassador this year has been a phenomenal experience. It has allowed me to look further into the agricultural business side of farming. It has also allowed me to stay up to date on issues the farmers are facing. Learning about these issues has helped me to share with others and to teach and talk to the younger generation of students so they are also informed on what is going on.

Overall my trip to Olympia was an amazing experience. It’s definitely a treasured memory that I will be able to keep and remember for the rest of my life.