General Program Information
Recognized as the premier leadership development program in Washington State, AgForestry offers experiential learning for people working in agriculture, forestry and other natural resource-based businesses. Over 18 months, 11 multi-day, in-state seminars are presented on topics related to communications, social services, government, industry, crime and corrections, and transportation. Participants also spend one week in Washington DC and up to two weeks in a selected foreign country.
The AgForestry Leadership Program features more than 250 expert speakers, a vast network of industry partners and over a thousand program participants. Many serve in leadership positions throughout the state, nationally and internationally.
Here are some highlights of our hands-on educational seminars and learning experiences. Speakers and locations change from class to class.
The leadership program focuses on cultivating leaders who communicate, collaborate, inspire and serve. Seminars provide hands-on opportunities for skill building, and explore the economic, environmental and human impacts of public policy decisions in natural resources and society at large.
Benefits include becoming a more effective communicator and collaborator. The growth you experience will allow you to make a greater impact in the organizations, industries and communities you serve.
- Have lived or worked in Washington state for at least one year.
- Obtain employer approval to invest the time required to attend all seminars. Self-employed persons must be able to be away from their business.
- Remain employed in agriculture, forestry, or any related natural resource service or industry for the duration of the class.
Leadership classes are diverse by industry, political beliefs, demographics and other factors. Ages range from 25 to 55+. Participants include farmers, livestock producers, foresters, agency personnel, tribal members and others who serve the natural resource sectors, such as persons employed in financial and insurance services, crop protection and NGOs.
Leadership classes vary between 15-18 people.
The program is 18 months, with a total of 58 days of required time and attendance. There are 11 seminars held throughout Washington State. There are two travel seminars: one week in Washington, D.C., and two weeks in a foreign country. Please see the sample Participant Handbook (left) for a sample schedule.
Participation fees for Class 45 were $6,000 total ($3,000 per year). There are also out-of-pocket costs including travel to and from seminars, some meals, a passport and other expenses.
The AgForestry Leadership Program costs vary depending on class size and location each year with the total cost ranging from $40,000 to $43,000 per participant. The cost to each participant is offset by the investment of our alumni, stakeholders and grants.
What Participants Say...
“AgForestry taught me skills and provided learning opportunities that fundamentally changed my local and worldview and my roles in those environments. I made lifelong friends and gained a network of professionals with shared experiences.”
Norm Schaaf (Class 9)
“AgForestry gave me new perspectives and will help me think creatively about ways we can break out of the status quo. I better recognize that the way we’ve always done things is not the only way they can be done.”
Jordan McDevitt (Class 38)
What Employers Say...
“We (DNR) cite the AgForestry program as a means to develop skills in a number of our Mid-Level and Senior Leader competencies. From a systems perspective we feel the program aligns nicely with Departmental goals and outcomes. On the individual level, we would encourage participants to build an individual development plan that captures these new deeper understanding of self and how they might be applied into the future.”
Stew Souders, Former Training Manager
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Colton Cooley, Class 42
Rayonier Forest Engineer III, Colton Cooley, shares his personal experience as an AgForestry Leadership Program participant. After receiving a sponsorship from Rayonier, Colton took the leap and was chosen as a participant in the highly competitive AgForestry Leadership program. He graduated in April 2022.
KayDee Gilkey, Class 16
AgForestry can be a life changing experience for those who make the commitment to lead in their communities. It can also be eye opening for many class members when they realize the impact that Washington State agriculture, forest products and natural resources make on the rest of the world. For many participants, the International Seminar is the biggest learning experience of the 18-month program.