Word on Wheat: Building Upon Our Existing Foundation

June 12, 2009 Bookmark and Share

Wayne Hurst, NAWG Second Vice President

On my tractor the other day, I was contemplating how we farmers are always working on something. Whether building on the past or building for the future, we’re always producing, moving forward and trying to make things better.

An area at NAWG that we have identified as in need of attention is the NAWG Foundation. Many folks in the wheat industry probably aren’t aware that there is a NAWG Foundation, or know it only as the organization that owns the Wheat Growers Building in Washington, D.C., where NAWG’s offices are located.

For too long, the efforts of the Foundation, which was established three decades ago, have been focused on upkeep of the Wheat Growers Building, along with leadership training programs for wheat producers and a small number of special projects. These are certainly laudable efforts, but the NAWG officers and NAWG Foundation Board think we can be doing more.

To facilitate a review of what the Foundation is doing now and how we can improve those efforts, NAWG President Karl Scronce recently appointed me the chairman of a new Foundation planning committee, made up of past NAWG presidents who want to contribute to their industry once again.

The idea behind this is to tap into this unique group of folks who have a rich legacy of giving to the industry and who have a lot of wisdom and experience to provide. We are hopeful many of them are willing to help us formulate goals and recommendations for approval by the Foundation Board and help us begin a fundraising campaign to support the projects we choose to undertake.

Over the next few quarters, we will be looking at what niche the NAWG Foundation can best fill. What needs are there in our industry? What are the most important strategic items for us to support? What are the best ways to use our limited resources to benefit education efforts, research projects or grants to industry organizations?

Certainly we will be looking for leadership from this core group of past leaders, as well as the Foundation Board and those on our Foundation Development Committee, but we will also need the input of growers on the ground. So, if you have ideas or opinions, let us know – talk to your local past president or me.

In the face of unprecedented challenges to our industry, it’s vitally important that we pool our resources to focus on research, education, communication and scholarship that will benefit our industry. I realize you may be thinking that now seems like a funny time to be starting up a fundraising campaign. Our economy is in a recession, and the farm sector is facing unprecedented pressures. On the other hand, those things that might keep us from trying to beef up this effort are really the reasons we should be working hard to do so.

For too long, the power of the NAWG Foundation has been dormant. Now is the time to breathe new life into this effort that exists to benefit our industry and our producers. With the leadership of the NAWG Foundation Board of Directors and the past presidents, and the capable assistance of our staff, I believe we can do good things.

– Hurst is a wheat producer in Burley, Idaho.