Charlie Walkinshaw is a great friend of AgForestry and advocate for agriculture. As the founder, former Executive Director and now Advisor/Tour Leader for Experience International, Charlie has led the charge in achieving their mission to “promote leadership development, capacity building, and technical and cultural exchange in fields related to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, natural resource management and conservation, among others.”
Since its founding, Experience International has facilitated over 3,000 practical trainings and cultural exchanges at U.S. farms, ranches and businesses for individuals from across the globe and an outbound program for U.S. students and young farmers to get work experience abroad. Over the years, numerous AgForestry graduates have actually hosted and provided practical work experience to their agricultural, forestry and resource related trainees & interns! They also take U.S. citizens on tours abroad. In fact, Charlie was Class 40’s guide for their International Seminar in Ecuador!
When asked about his most important realization about these exchanges Charlie said, “The rural and urban divide is similar around the globe. The challenge in creating dialogue between people from different viewpoints and backgrounds is much the same. Our work in encouraging open and meaningful conversations among diverse people is possibly more important than ever.”
With such complementary missions, values and approaches, it’s no wonder AgForestry has found a kindred spirit in Charlie.
Like many of us, the pandemic saw “business as usual” for Experience International grind to a halt. Also, like many of us, this opened the door for Charlie and his team to reflect on their lives and passions. They quickly realized their next dream was right in their own backyard. Inspired by views of Bellingham Bay and daily commutes through the farm fields of Whatcom County, Bike Northwest was born.
Bike Northwest offers half- to two-day educational biking excursions across Skagit and Whatcom Counties, and a full week adventure in the Olympic Rainforest. Locals and visitors alike will enjoy gorgeous Northwest scenery and experiential learning opportunities with local businesses.
Charlie is excited for this new chapter for where local partnerships, protecting agricultural land and helping people understand where their food comes from all come together. He looks forward to traveling with AgForestry to Ecuador again next year. And, extends an open invitation to any AgForestry graduate to host and provide work experience to one of their international ag trainees/young professionals!
Check out the Class 41 Graduation Auction and bid on the Edible Everson Bike Tour. Among other stops you’ll visit Cloud Mountain Farm Center, which was started by Tom (Class 9) and Cheryl (Class 18) Thornton.