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PLP 525 Graduate Students at Washington State University Visit the State Capitol to Learn about Agricultural Public Policy

PLP 525 students at WA State Capitol BuildingOn June 13th, 13 graduate students at Washington State University (WSU) visited the State Capitol in Olympia, WA, to learn about agricultural public policy as part of the curriculum for PLP 525 (Field Plant Pathology and Mycology). The course, organized by Dr. Lindsey du Toit, Professor of Plant Pathology, focuses on providing students with direct exposure to diverse careers in plant pathology. The Capitol visit was part of two weeks of travel for the summer course. At the Capitol, students met with specialists with diverse careers in public policy that encompass aspects of agricultural policy: Dr. Derek Stanford, Washington State Representative; Kelly McLain, Natural Resource Scientist for the Washington State Department of Agriculture; Robert Duff, Senior Policy Advisor to Washington State Governer Jay Inslee; and Aaron Wasser, Communication Director of the Senate Democratic Caucus. The visit and discussions were coordinated and mediated by Kate Baber, a specialist in Public Health Policy and the daughter of Dr. Debra Inglis, WSU Professor of Plant Pathology. The students reviewed how Washington State government is organized and public policy created, about legislative committees such as the House and Senate Agricultural Committees, the role of the state legislature in shaping agricultural policy, how policy makers engage with the research community, how scientists can engage in the public policy process and effectively educate lawmakers about agricultural science issues, how to communicate science to a broad audience, and career paths in state government. As part of the course assignment, each student contacted their local representative to convey information about an important agricultural or educational issue. Students taking the course included Alex Batson, Vishnutej Ellur, David Enicks, Christine Jade Ermita, Billie Espejo, Lederson Ganan Betancur, Cedric Habiyaremye, Emmi Klarer, Olga Kozhar, Elliot Marston, Kaitlin Miller, Ryan Solemslie, and Carmen Swannack.