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Totally Caught Off Guard

Each week I normally log in about 10 – 12 hours of volunteer work on the Sustainable Land Strategy (SLS) forum. The SLS is a non-regulatory group of farmers, tribal and environmental members who were convened by Snohomish County to promote collaboration and build relationships. There are four Farmers and four Environmental members (two Tribal, two Restoration).

Back in 2010, the goal of then Council Member Dave Somers (now County Executive) was to change the adversarial and contentious relationships between Farming and Environmental groups. No small task! A new way of doing business was needed and so with good facilitation, the SLS began the arduous task of bridging damaged relationships and working together.

In 2015 I was asked to join the SLS and in 2016 became the Ag caucus chair. Terry Williams from the Tulalip Tribes serves as the Fish caucus chair. Terry’s years of service in DC and in Snohomish County have laid a path of trust and collaboration to begin this important work.

Every year the 45 Conservation Districts across Washington State have an annual meeting and an awards banquet. This year I had been invited to speak and talk about SLS and the work we are doing in Snohomish County. I had also been invited to stay for lunch. Though I really needed to get back to the farm and my “paying” job, Monte Marti, the Snohomish Conservation District Director, pressed me to stay. I reluctantly relented. About half way through lunch, the proverbial “light bulb” came on. This was an Awards Banquet!

This year, the Vim Wright “Building Bridges” Award was presented to Terry Williams and Tristan Klesick. I did not see that coming. To be mentioned in the same breath with Vim Wright and Terry Williams is an incredible honor.

Vim Wright served both Colorado and Washington and worked tirelessly to build better communities for people and wildlife (especially non-game wildlife). She served on many committees and founded many more. Towards the end of her life she left her imprint on farming and conservation by establishing the Farming and the Environment program and serving on the Washington State Conservation Commission. The words on the award capture her spirit and the goal of the SLS: “We salute and recognize your continuing efforts in support of conservation through collaboration and working tirelessly with traditional agricultural, environmental and tribal communities on conservation projects and helping to develop a better mutual understanding of one another.”

An award is a moment in time, but without lots of people working together, none of it would be possible. My name might be on the plaque, but as I walked up to receive the award I couldn’t help but think of Joelle, our children, the Klesick team, the SLS team, and you, our Klesick customers. This is an award for the entire Klesick Farm Community.

Thank you for believing in Klesick Farms. Together we are doing great things and I look forward to doing more great things tomorrow.

Farmer/Health Advocate

Tristan Klesick