Kristin Kirkpatrick: April message

Together We Grow members and community,

Wherever you find yourself consuming this newsletter, I hope it finds you and your teams well – and that your strategies to adapt to the current reality are keeping your stakeholders healthy and able to engage in the work the world needs.

As we respond to keep our communities safe and productive, I hope we will all commit to maintaining the focus that brought each of us to Together We Grow. As we focus on the pipeline of talent that will enable us to feed the future, we cannot afford to let our momentum slip.

I was humbled last month to join the TEDxCSU conference in Colorado to talk about how diversity can help us feed the future. A third of the speakers during the daylong TED conference had connections to ag. One speaker, a student of ag education at CSU and a father of three, found his way into agriculture after connecting to food as a form of ministry to meet the health needs of his community. This student spoke about the “cost of an opportunity” and what happens when a single mistake prevents you from bringing your ideas and perspective into the workforce. For him, that mistake as a young man had resulted in a felony conviction.

Another speaker was CSU’s famed Dr. Temple Grandin, who spoke about how the world needs different kinds of minds. Dr. Grandin is autistic and has revolutionized our approach to animals throughout the ag industry. She worries about the talent we lose in our readiness to put labels on people, and if by doing so we limit the exposure and opportunity for some of the brightest and most creative minds to join our teams and help us revolutionize our approach to our current challenges. Nearly all of the speakers shared brave personal stories about their experiences within our education systems and employment structures and reinforced the crucial work we are all engaged in to move our organizations into more inclusive spaces where people feel seen and valued.

I left feeling that the work we are doing collectively through Together We Grow is crucial, that the sea change we are creating is growing ever more complex and urgent. These are the voices our organizations need to drive the innovation and adaptation that is crucial to our future – and also, the very skills we are flexing every minute of the day right now as we discover new ways to meet the demands of our workforce, our students, and our members in this current crisis.

I’ve included several important updates below including news about changes to our membership structure.

Be well,

Kristin

 

This message was included in Together We Grow’s April newsletter. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, Together We Grow

Kristin Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director for Together We Grow and the Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agribusiness, located at Colorado State University. In this role, Kristin works alongside a consortium of many of the world’s largest agribusiness interests, including members of industry, non-governmental organizations, higher education, and government institutions. Together We Grow is focused on building a skilled, diverse, and inclusive agricultural workforce that can power the innovation needed to feed the future.   

Kristin has always had a passion for systems change that creates more equitable opportunities and has done this work through the lenses of public health, policy advocacy, and community development. Most recently, she helped lead Kimbal Musk’s national nonprofit Big Green, which integrates food literacy education into school curriculums across the country.

Kristin has been an instructor with the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU and served as Chief of Wellness Planning for Bellisimo Development Inc., helping lead the master planning, design, and actualization of the award-winning Bucking Horse and landmark Jessup Farm projects in Fort Collins, Colo. She earned a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from CSU and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado.