Legislative work is anything but routine

By Izabella Myers
2024 Washington Wheat Ambassador


In January, I traveled to Olympia with the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG). I had the opportunity to meet with legislators to discuss the current agricultural issues of 2024. During this trip, I had the opportunity to engage with legislators, see some of the process, and gain a deeper understanding of how all these things work. So many of these current issues can shape society, and it goes very unnoticed by the public. 

While we were there, we talked with legislators and listened to the information they had on some of these agriculture issues. Interacting with the legislators provided a unique perspective on the challenges and responsibilities they face in representing their constituents. Through many conversations, I learned about the diverse array of issues they are confronted with daily. These ranged from students coming to bring in issues, your everyday people, and different companies or organizations like us coming to see them. Engaging with legislators showed me how important it can be to effectively communicate on the current policy issues. I more or less learned about the importance and difference it can possibly make if you go and interact with the legislators. 

Going into this trip, I did not have a lot of expectations and really did not know what to expect. I had never been to Olympia before and was unsure what I would experience. Something that stood out the most was not realizing how many bills that are constantly being made and passed and voted on. I quickly realized all the things legislators are required to know and read about. They spend their days during these few months of session reading data, letters from people, evidence, and stories and meeting with people firsthand to hear more. Before attending this trip, I had no idea how much information they had to consume and take in on a daily basis. I gained a deeper appreciation for what they do behind closed doors. Through meeting with legislators, I learned a lot about how passionate people can be about some topics, and how communities connect to try and share their opinion on certain topics they are passionate about. 

There were a few moments that really stood out to me on the trip. I enjoyed the first day when we all met for dinner, and all the WAWG attendees met up. During that time, we received agendas and went over who we would be meeting with. We also went over the 2024 session issues, such as carbon policies and how we can ensure Washington state retains its economic competitiveness and does not disadvantage Washington farmers; keeping the lower Snake River dams intact as they are vital to Washington and the nation’s economy and transportation infrastructure; access to pesticides is essential to keeping Washington agriculture productive and globally competitive; allowing farm workers to earn money for up to 50 hours per week for 12 weeks of the year before overtime provisions kick in; support of voluntary conservation programs that offer flexibility and fairly compensate farmers for riparian protection; and that food- and farm-related tax incentives are critical to the agricultural industry. Dinner stood out to me because it was a great time to talk with people and learn more about the topics we would be meeting about. 

Something else that was very interesting to me was the amount of passion WAWG had for these topics and this trip. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to “network” and talk with people. The second day there, the WAWG had an event where we invited all the legislators we met with to join us for appetizers, dessert, and drinks to talk with them more on a personal level and connect. I think this was a great opportunity to meet more with the legislators and even just the WAWG members to talk with them about their years at WAWG and their thoughts. 

After being in Olympia, I definitely gained a different perspective and enjoyment for this association. This was a great experience that I will remember for quite some time, and I learned quite a bit from it. I am grateful for the opportunity and experience. I learned so much more about each current topic and more about the routine of the short, 60-day session, all while getting to take in the sights of Olympia and the capital buildings.