May: Industry input | Good Fruit Grower


Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission Executive Director Ines Hanrahan, left, chats with Steve Castagnoli, director of Oregon State University’s Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, when the commission’s board toured the campus in August. (Courtesy Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission)

The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC), under the direction of Executive Director Ines Hanrahan, has been hard at work to make access to its services for tree fruit industry stakeholders more available than ever before. While the commission is perhaps most known for its annual research reviews and the millions of dollars in funding it has granted as part of its mission to promote and conduct research that will or may benefit the planting, production, harvesting, handling, processing or shipment of tree fruit, the commission staff stays busy in and out of review season.

Amy May
Amy May

In a fast-changing world with an increasingly global economy and rising concerns about future food insecurities across the globe, the commission’s mission is as critical today as it was in 1969 when it was first formed by the state Legislature. There is no time for stasis. 

Hanrahan, who has been with the commission since 2005 and its executive director since 2018, is deeply committed to serving industry stakeholders as efficiently and effectively as possible. To address industry needs and barriers, under Hanrahan’s leadership, the commission now invites stakeholder feedback year-round. She is a firm proponent of incremental and quantum changes and encourages staff to actively seek every opportunity to improve what they do. In the past year, with the commissioners and staff — including Amy May, the commission’s new administrative officer whose background includes working with stakeholders to identify and implement process improvements — Hanrahan has worked together to map out and complete the following opportunities for improvement:

—Revamp the request for proposal (RFP) processes, communications and documents.

—Increase the page number allowance for final reports.

—Require prerecorded presentations from scientists (minimizing opportunities for bias and enabling stronger presentations).

—Diversify committee membership structures.

—Provide committee member participation information.

—Complete development and routine use of a matrix to identify potential commission board members.

—Revise the website tabs, pages and more to increase a positive user experience. 

—Track website statistics to identify what stakeholders value.

—Increase social media activity and tracking.

—Determine stakeholders’ most desired forms of communication.

—Increase transparency and understanding of the research review process for scientists.

—Develop a yearlong task timeline. 

—Use an online platform for submissions in at least one research review.

—Revise the research review book format.

—Revise instructions and templates for proposals and reports.

Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission board members pose for a picture in August. From left to right: Jeff Cleveringa, Luisa Castro, Brent Milne, chair Jim Doornink, Craig Harris, Keith Veselka, Sam Godwin, Dena Ybarra and Teah Smith. Matt Miles not pictured. (Courtesy Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission)
Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission board members pose for a picture in August. From left to right: Jeff Cleveringa, Luisa Castro, Brent Milne, chair Jim Doornink, Craig Harris, Keith Veselka, Sam Godwin, Dena Ybarra and Teah Smith. Matt Miles not pictured. (Courtesy Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission)

If you have considered becoming more involved in the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, have an interest in joining one of its committees, are interested in submitting proposals for research funding, would like to attend any of the research reviews, or would like to learn more about the work of the commission, please visit our website at: treefruitresearch.org. Select the About Us tab for information on how to reach us. 

by Amy May 

Amy May is the administrative officer for the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. She can be reached at amy@treefruitresearch.com.



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