Three years ago, a group of professional leaders from around Washington State applied for an 18-month program, AgForestry Leadership. They knew they would travel the state, gain an understanding of public policy and various issues, and be pushed to grow as leaders. They had been told that they would form bonds with their classmates, that would have the potential to be lifelong.

What no one knew was that just a week after they landed from their national trip in Washington DC, everything would shut down and they would not gather again for 18 months.

COVID had arrived. When the decision was made to pause for a year, their response as a class was extremely ‘pausitive,’ as they chose to refer to this as their bonus year. And the, came up with their tagline: “Class 42- Most Class Ever!”

On April 22, 2022 they gathered for their final seminar: Applied Leadership & Graduation.

Public Policy Projects

Members of each AgForestry Leadership Program class form teams and throughout their two years, work to develop a solution to address a specific public policy issue they identified and upon which they agreed to work. Teams submit a written report with background, processes and outcomes, and at the Graduation Seminar deliver a 30-minute presentation that is evaluated and critiqued by third-party professionals.

The public policy project is a capstone experience and integral to AgForestry. The process allows participants to apply skills learned, leverage relationships built, and reference resources to solve a public policy issue. Engaging in the process and learning from the experience is more important than the outcome. The process enables participants to work with other people to analyze a significant public issue and develop a proposal for resolution, including identifying an appropriate decision-making body, and advocating for the solution before that body.

Congratulations to Class 42 on your Graduation!

Class 42...The Most Class Ever.

Thank you Tyler Broetje, Class 40 for taking graduation photos!

Class 42 Awards Announced

Each year, the soon-to-graduate AgForestry class thoughtfully nominates members of their cohort to be honored for their inspiration, their leadership and their community service. The winners in each category are honored as part of the graduation ceremony.

Inspirational Award

Leading Edge Leadership Award

“Making a Difference” Community Service Award

In honor of Carol Mercer for her dedication and enthusiasm for the natural resources, her love and involvement in the leadership program, and her modeling of leadership. The award recognized enthusiasm, empowerment, encouragement and inspiration, all traits Carol exhibited and that her fellow participants admired.

In recognition of Karl and Lexie Kupers’ willingness to try new ideas, be innovative, and take risks. They provided creative, entrepreneurial ideas in leadership, dedication and enthusiasm for the natural resource industries all while pioneering new crops, farming practices, and marketing techniques. This award recognizes enthusiasm, innovative thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, and a willingness to take calculated risks and try new ideas, all traits exhibited by Karl and Lexie.

In recognition of Jack Felgenhauer who exemplified leadership in the natural resource industries at the local, state, national, and international levels. Jack committed to public service and community involvement and used his leadership talents to give back. His commitment and financial support of AgForestry helps guarantee generations of leaders. This award recognized leadership through service including being a role model for compassion, striving to positively impact and enrich lives and communities, and generously sharing one’s time and talent.

Class 42 Award Winner: Katie Tackman, Chelan County PUD, Fish and Wildlife Specialist, Wenatchee

Class 42 Award Winner: Faith Van De Putte, Midnight’s Farm, Owner, Lopez Island

Class 42 Award Winner: Andrew Engell, Deputy District Director, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers’ Office, Colville

Her cohort said: Katie goes out of her way to engage with AgForestry and build connections with classmates. Katie led with enthusiasm and has a tireless and empathetic spirit, lifting others with her words and energy. Her dedication to natural resources and her commitment to the leadership program are inspiring.

Her cohort said: Faith brings innovative ideas to agriculture — producing compost, advocating for biochar, and offering climate learning internships. she can think creatively and use ideas to innovate for natural resources. Faith is unwavering in her pursuit and implementation of environmentally-friendly farming and life practices: she talks the talk and walks the walk. Her passion for biochar is contagious and makes me think twice about my life practices.

His cohort said: Andrew is guided by an instinct to help those around him. He gives voice to diverse stakeholders through his work, is highly engaged in his community and truly cares about others. He is on e of those rare people who does not seek leadership but those around him see him as a leader and want him to lead plus, he is both positive and helpful.

Stu Bledsoe Leadership Award

Court Stanley, Class 21, Owner of Heartwood Consulting and Retired President of Port Blakely

Class 42 said of Court: In his work, whether it be through WFPA, the TFW agreement, or Port Blakely’s Safe Harbor Agreements, Court has led through his ability to forge relationships across politics, positions and ideologies to focus on interests and achieving win-win outcomes for those involved in the collaboration.

Court is loyal to his employees and works diligently to support and grow them into roles within the business.  During his ascension to President, Court strove to develop deep relationships with government agencies, elected officials and tribes, both in the United States and New Zealand.

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Wine Glass and Wine Sponsor

Table Sponsors

S. Martinez Livestock & Lyall Farms

Not pictured are:

  • Amanda Sandhop, HIW-Weyerhaeuser, Sales Service Manager, Palestine, TX
  • Andrew Engell, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rogers, Deputy District Director, Colville
  • Chris Eckman, CoBank – Agribusiness Banking Group, Sr. Relationship Manager, Spokane