Pete W. Jacoby, Jr., associate dean for outreach in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) and agriculture program director for WSU Extension, is one of the newest members of the Washington State Conservation Commission.
 
The Washington State Conservation Commission assists and guides conservation districts as they work with local communities to conserve renewable natural resources. The commission provides leadership, technical resources and money to help private landowners protect public resources. The commission’s efforts include the preservation of farmland, the restoration of Puget Sound and water conservation, as well as many educational outreach projects.

“This appointment allows WSU to have a vital seat and a voice in decisions about issues in natural resources and agriculture in Washington,” Jacoby said.

With his many years’ experience working in natural resources and agriculture, the appointment, which became effective Nov. 1, is a good fit, Jacoby said.
 
“It’s a partnership that flows both ways,” he said. “We’ll have opportunities to create partnerships with a variety of organizations in the state, and those partnerships will make WSU even more effective.”
 
Mutually effective funding is one of the opportunities he is keen to pursue.
 
“Money flows through a number of organizations with common goals,” he said. “The more we’re aware of both the goals and the funding upstream, the better we’ll be positioned to be effective.”
 
The commission manages $30 million per biennium in grant and loan funds, said commission executive director, Mark Clark.
 
“This primarily goes out in grants to conservation districts so they can provide technical assistance and education to landowners and also cost-share with landowners who want to do conservation improvements,” he said.

“We’ve always been partners with WSU Extension,” Clark added, “so we’re excited to have Pete on board because he’s going to help kick things into high gear. He’s well connected and has great relationships with many of the commission members.”

“It’s all about building relationships for collaboration,” Jacoby said. “Everybody in the state concerned about ag and natural resource use wants better early detection of issues, and an improved ability for rapid response. We need to be nimble and quick, as some of these issues can cost producers millions. Establishing partnerships with the other members of the commission is a way of expanding WSU’s capacity to respond.”

Jacoby cited water and soil quality, farmland preservation and concern about the long-term health of pollinators as issues that would benefit from the rapid deployment of WSU’s scientific expertise in partnership with local agencies and organizations.

“I have a long history of being engaged on the ground with these types of issues,” he said, “and of being a champion of institutional transformation. We need to explore strategies to engage issues in a more flexible and responsive manner that is appropriate to the times.”