Teryl Roper, newly named director of Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, is visiting Alaska this week.
Roper's first stop was the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he met with the School of Natural Resources and Extension's agriculture professors and staff and the Cooperative Extension Service agriculture and horticulture agent.
"I'm emphasizing the education portion on this trip," Roper said. "We provide academic research based on information about sustainable agriculture primarily to professionals but also to producers."
Steve Seefeldt, Extension agriculture agent, is hosting a professional development workshop Wednesday for Western SARE state coordinators. The coordinator for Alaska, Seefeldt is also giving a tour of area farms to about 40 visitors, who will visit Rosie Creek Farm, Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, Wrigley Farm in Delta Junction and the Hollembaek Farm in Delta Junction.
Roper is a professor and head of the Department of Plant, Soils and Climate at Utah State University. A former Extension specialist, he received his Ph.D. in horticulture from Washington State University.
Founded in 1988, Western SARE is a research and education grant program focused on the promotion of sustainable farming practices in the West. It serves 13 states and four Pacific territories. Western SARE engages farmers and ranchers in the research process, a unique and critical component to the program’s success, according to Roper.
“It increases the knowledge base on one side and helps educate on the other,” Roper said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
Now, Roper is looking forward to leading the organization and using his experience to fulfill the mission of Western SARE.
“I’m most looking forward to working with the staff, growers and other agriculture leaders,” Roper said.
While he is looking forward to his new position, Roper acknowledges that the success of the organization is due in large part to the direction of its retiring leader, V. Philip Rasmussen.
“His vision and leadership for Western SARE for the past 20 years has made us successful,” Roper said. “I have very big shoes to fill.”