On the road, learning together

By Sydney Krisanda, Rural Partnerships Intern

Karen Lewotsky and Sydney Krisanda in Echo, OR (left to right).

This summer, I have the privilege of working with Karen Lewotsky, Rural Partnerships Director, on numerous water-related projects.

A large part of Karen’s work at Oregon Environmental Council focuses on building relationships that extend beyond Oregon’s urban growth boundaries, reaching out to farmers and ranchers who are hard at work growing the food we all need and love.

Earlier this month, I was presented with the opportunity to visit an Oregon farm as part of my internship I knew I was in for a new and exciting experience!

A few colleagues and I traveled three hours east of Portland’s bustling city center to the small town of Echo,  home of Madison Ranches. Upon arriving at the farm, I was immediately overjoyed by the amount of wide open land in front of my eyes.

Alfalfa blooms at Madison Ranches.

I’m originally from Rochester, NY, and I have spent my entire life on the East Coast. Rocks and boulders inhibit a thriving agricultural sector in the East and I am used to seeing scattered fields only a few acres in size. Madison Ranches, however, spans 17,000 acres, over half of which are irrigated lands for growing crops such as onions, wheat, corn, and alfalfa. Jake Madison, fourth generation owner of his family farm, took us to an alfalfa field to get a first-hand look at his production. Stepping onto the field, I was overwhelmed with the buzzing of millions of pollinator bees, the dripping of the irrigation hoses, and the beautiful smell of blooming alfalfa. I was surrounded by a complex agricultural system.

Inspecting the pollinator bees.

Jake Madison operates his farm on a model that prioritizes conservation and efficiency. He uses precision irrigation technology to ensure that his crops get just the right amount of water at the right time everyday. It was remarkable to see how technology can be used to enhance agricultural production and provide environmental benefits.

The entire experience allowed me to see the importance of connecting with rural partners across the state of Oregon. The hard work of farmers and ranchers is crucial for the growth of the state and listening to their voice and perspective is an essential step in bringing all Oregonians together.

Sydney Krisanda is a senior at Connecticut College, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Environmental studies.


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