This proposed partner organization engagement project aims to examine the spectrum of opinions and values regarding the education system of Oregon. Here, I propose a collaborative project that would include members of the Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB), including president Barb Iverson, as well as a number of stakeholders. These people would conduct two-way engagement conversations with members of the Lewis & Clark student body and faculty, with topics ranging from the role of agriculture in higher education to examining the foundations of the current curriculum.
Relevance to Partner Organization
Right away, education is the very first section of the Oregon Farm Bureau policy book. Even as an agricultural organization, the OFB recognizes that education is crucial to society, as they have a variety of education and outreach programs, such as the Ag Education, Farmer Employment Education & Leader Defense Service (FEELDS), and Resource Education & Agricultural Leadership Oregon (REAL Oregon). I believe that this potential idea is important because it would allow the OFB to hear the perspectives of people in the educational system, while also allowing students and scholars to understand the importance of agriculture in our world and ways it could benefit the education system.
The mixing of perspectives from two different industries would make for intriguing dialogue, as I think that the diversity of backgrounds within this would be worth listening to. During our group interview with Barb Iverson, we learned that the OFB policy book was created by farmers from across the state. This is an interesting thought, as being able to converse with representatives throughout the organization may reveal a variety of perspectives on different issues, a notion that could be matched by our own team of representatives at Lewis & Clark. This spectrum could lead to certain people connecting with other specific people, and also to the formation of common ground and shared visions for the education-agriculture duo going forward.
The Project Vision
This project would take the form of a conference-style engagement conversation. As the Oregon Farm Bureau contains 32 bureaus, which represent all 36 counties of Oregon, I would want to include one representative per bureau in addition to the board of directors. On the Lewis & Clark side, there would be a few representatives each from the Environmental Studies department, faculty, and student body. During the conference, the ultimate goal would be to practice environmental engagement with others, as one of the main goals of ENVS 295 is to “engage across boundaries”, as well as be understanding of the expertise and background of others. This would be accomplished through these conversations. Getting to a more specific level, there will be a handful of topics to be covered and discussed, such as the question of if agriculture education should have a more prominent role in higher education, and whether more colleges should offer programs that incorporate the industry. Additionally, general education policies would be examined, as the two sides may have differing views on some of the policies in the OFB policy book and Lewis & Clark core values. After the completion of this project, each side would have a better understanding of the perspectives of others, as well as how the two industries could work together more prominently in the future.