Yesterday was a very busy day on the road – it seems I can teach an entire minor in Washington State highways these days. We resumed our Engagement Tour with stops in Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane Counties.
For any of you who think Eastern Washington is simply made up of the desert-like terrains of Central Washington and Palouse Hills in Southeastern Washington, you should take a trip north of Spokane. You’ll see some of the most magnificent forests and valleys imaginable. The lumber and cattle industry in this area plays a significant role to the vitality of the area, and WSU’s extension offices provide great assistance to farmers in this region.
We received a great briefing from Sandi Everson in Stevens County about the impact WSU Extension has had in developing many of the youth – getting them engaged and involved in activities that are healthy for their growth as well as for their communities. Police reports are down significantly since a new facility was built years ago, and the members of the area called it the “tipping point” for them – after the positive impact the center generated, many other aspects of the community grabbed onto that momentum and showed very tangible improvements.
Yesterday was an extremely rewarding day and one that provided a great source of pride for me as president about the work we are doing across the state. Cuts to higher education continue to come, but we will remain as committed to Extension as possible as we endure these difficult times. Yesterday provided yet another illustration of the important role that higher education services play in the livelihood of our state.