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Harvest in Colton above the Snake River.
Photo by Jake Meyer

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A champion for agriculture

Previous WAWG president, county commissoner heads to state Senate

January 2021
By Trista Crossley


There’s a number of past Washington Association of Wheat Growers’ (WAWG) officers who have used their time leading the association as a springboard into politics. Perry Dozier, a newly elected state senator from Walla Walla County, is the latest.

Dozier, a republican, is replacing retiring Sen. Maureen Walsh in the 16th Legislative District. He was elected with 59 percent of the vote over his opponent, Danielle Garbe Reser, a democrat. The 16th Legislative District covers Columbia and Walla Walla counties, the southern portion of Benton county and the city of Pasco in Franklin County.

Dozier was WAWG president in 2000/01. He was recruited to go through the WAWG chairs by outgoing President Alex McGregor, who called him one night to ask him if he’d be interested in being an officer in the association. Dozier agreed, maybe a little too quickly, because McGregor called back the next day just to make sure. See more


Focus will be on small businesses

Walla Walla grower's background will come in handy as a state Representative

January 2021
By Trista Crossley


Mark Klicker’s agricultural experience is as diverse as his family’s history of raising crops, and he’s planning on taking that experience and putting it to work as a newly elected state representative for the 16th Legislative District.

“If we don’t step up, we are going to lose this country,” he explained, referring to a rural America that includes smaller urban areas like Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities. “It’s important that we get involved. I believe if I can find ways of working in collaboration with both sides of the aisle, we can find solutions. That’s what we need to do. We need to bring people together.” See more


Advising farmers, ranchers in the Inland Northwest

Steve Van Vleet, Whitman County WSU Extension agent

December 2020
By Kevin Gaffney


It’s only fitting that Steve Van Vleet works directly with farmers, ranchers and fruit tree growers all over Eastern Washington. Van Vleet grew up on the western slope region of Colorado on a fruit farm. Along with apples, pears, peaches and apricots, they also had a few cattle to work with.

His hometown of Paonia is located in a region known mostly for tree fruit production and coal mining. Rumor has it the town was named after the peony flower, but was misspelled. After finishing high school in 1985, Van Vleet earned his bachelor’s in biology from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., in 1990. The next career step was working for the National Park Service for two years. Van Vleet then moved on to the University of Wyoming to complete his master’s degree in entomology. He was working full time under a weed science professor when he completed that degree in 1995. Deciding he wasn’t quite done with his schooling, he was encouraged by his mentor and professor, Steve Miller, to earn his Ph.D. in agronomy. See more


Jumping in is nothing new to this farmer and his family

Phil Isaak, WAWG past president 1993/94

Aug/Sept 2020
By Kevin Gaffney


Most Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) presidents spend several years working through the ranks of their county organizations. Many serve as committee chairs or county reps on the WAWG state board before going through the state officer positions. Phil Isaak jumped directly into the WAWG secretary-treasurer position at the request of then-outgoing President Chris Laney.

It wasn’t like Isaak was an unknown quantity, however.

Isaak had experience on various boards and commissions before WAWG and many more in the years following his service in the leadership positions. And nearly as important, Isaak had already spent an entire year traveling around the state with his daughter, Brenda, as she served as WAWG Wheat Queen. Read more


Long-time ad sales manager retires

Kevin Gaffney has spent 30 years contributing to the success of Wheat Life

June 2020
By Trista Crossley


You may not immediately recognize his name, but he’s one of the main reasons Wheat Life is as successful as it is.

In May, after almost 30 years of involvement with the magazine and the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG), Kevin Gaffney, our ad sales manager, is hanging up his hat.

It’s an understatement to say we will miss him.

“Kevin has been a well-rounded and hardworking employee for WAWG,” said Michelle Hennings, WAWG’s executive director. “He has a great personality and a natural ability to connect with others. His working relationships with Wheat Life’s advertisers, growers and fellow staff members has helped make it possible for the magazine to thrive in a time when other print publications have struggled. We are sorry to lose him, but wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement!” Read more


Educating students about the wheat industry one week at a time

Kara Kaelber, founder of Wheat Week

June 2020
By Kevin Gaffney


Wheat Week has been an effective tool for educating fourth and fifth graders in Washington state about agriculture and, more specifically, the wheat industry, for 13 years. The mastermind behind this unique in-the-classroom instructional program is Kara Kaelber.

Born in southern Idaho, Kaelber spent her middle and high school years in Connecticut, where her mother had taken a job with Weight Watchers, a division of the H.J. Heinz Company. Kaelber began her college studies at the University of Florida. After her mother landed a job with Welch’s in Kennewick, Wash., Kaelber eagerly returned to the Pacific Northwest and attended Washington State University (WSU). Read more


Ag's story told

Sue Tebow turns to social media to spread the word on farmers and ranchers

June 2020
By Trista Crossley


Moses Lake resident Sue Tebow has taken the phrase “sharing is caring” to a new social media level.

“I had been thinking about doing something for a long time to share the ag life with people. I have a lot of friends that aren’t ag related and didn’t understand what goes on in agriculture. I put it off and put it off until one day, I just thought why not and what if? It turned out to be a really good idea,” Tebow said.

Tebow’s idea was to create a Facebook page where she could share stories from farmers and ranchers. The idea—a daily post from a farmer or rancher, no names and a single photo—may have been simple, but it was effective. Four years later, her page, agri.CULTURE, has more than 25,000 followers from around the world and has more than 900 posts. In 2017, Tebow was awarded the Charles Easton Award by the Agriculture Council of America for her work as an advocate for accurate communications between rural and urban audiences. She has also been inducted into the Grant County Agriculture Hall of Fame and given the Excellence in Agriculture Service Award. Read more


Forming resonsible adults as an FFA chapter leader

Steve Braun, Liberty High School ag instructor

May 2020
By Kevin Gaffney


Steve Braun was destined to be an ag educator, but he didn’t recognize his calling until he was working his way through college.

Braun was raised in the small agricultural community of Cambridge, Idaho, in a family with several generations of farmers and ranchers. His grandfather, his father and three uncles raised wheat, barley, alfalfa and grass hay and beef cattle on their diversified farm. He was actively involved with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) during his high school years. Their Cambridge chapter was very competitive, and it paid off in a big way in 1989, when they took on a project that was part of the Building Our American Communities, a program to promote volunteerism.

The FFA group designed a plan to place new street signs throughout Cambridge. Their application was accepted, and the city agreed to fund the cost of the new street signs. The group did all the labor of installing the signs throughout town. Their project won the Idaho state award, beating all the larger schools. The award included a paid-in-full trip to Washington, D.C., for their ag instructor and for Braun, the FFA project leader. Read more