A look into the Tilth Conference

This year CSANR sponsored travel for several WSU students to attend the Tilth Conference in Yakima, WA. We are posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. To view student posts from this year and prior years, visit https://csanr.wsu.edu/tag/tilth/

Ryan Sample is from Almira, WA, and is a sophomore studying Agricultural Technologies and Production Management.

Ryan Sample headshot
WSU student Ryan Sample

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity by the CSANR to travel to Yakima and attend the annual Tilth Conference 2019 with some fellow students from Washington State University. As an Agricultural Technologies student at Washington State University, I was not sure what to expect when I went to the Tilth Conference. The whole reason I decided to go to the Tilth Conference was so that I could hopefully gain a new perspective on agriculture and meet people who have had different experiences with agriculture than I have.

Upon checking into the conference, my fellow students and I were given name tags and then were treated to a phenomenal breakfast spread that gave us the nourishment we would need to begin our eventful morning. Shortly after everyone was finishing their breakfasts, we had the privilege of being greeted by the delightful members of the Yakama Nation tribe. Their greeting included some traditional dances and songs that captivated everyone in the ballroom. One of the elder members of the tribe then gave us a gripping message on what the land and the native plants means to her.

With the opening ceremony concluded, the seminars got underway. Everyone split up and funneled into rooms where presentations on a variety of topics were presented for an hour or so. My fellow classmate and I chose to attend the presentation on the importance of tracking your soil nutrients and how it can make the rest of your farm run more smoothly.

After trying to soak up as much information as we could from the speaker, we then had to move on to the next presentation of our choice. For the second presentation of the day I walked into a room where all of the chairs were made into a circle that worked its way around the whole room. This wasn’t much of a presentation, but rather a group discussion in which a panel was set up to bounce ideas off of for how farmers and farm owners can help increase the quality of life for their workers. It was very interesting to see everyone contributing to the discussion and coming up with new ideas, but unfortunately time ran out and it was time for lunch!

Once again, everyone gathered into the ballroom where lunch was served and everyone got to sit down and exchange what they learned with each other. During lunch, we were surprised with another guest. Javier Zamora, a small organic farm owner from California, spoke to us about the importance that passion and customer appreciation play when operating an organic farm. When Javier was done speaking it was time to divide and conquer once more.

I made my way over to the next room of my interest and prepared for the next presentation. The presentation was on the role that native pollinators have in crop yields, as well as what kinds of plants will bring in native pollinators. This was by far my favorite presentation of the day. I learned about the many insects that are going extinct and how important the preservation of these insects is. The most interesting part of the presentation was learning how planting native flowering plants and trees can bring more native pollinators back into the area and increase crop yields.

The day eventually wrapped up with a wonderful dinner and award ceremony. During dinner, we were once again lucky enough to be treated to the hospitality and wisdom of the Yakama Nation. The long and fruitful day came to an end with live music and dancing.

Again, I would like to thank the CSANR for funding this trip for me and my fellow students. This experience is one I will not soon forget!