Kristin Kirkpatrick: August message

It’s late July as I write this update, and I’m thinking about the color red. The imperfect orangey-red of our first garden tomatoes that have just begun to ripen, tasting of earth and sunshine when they burst in your mouth. The strange pinkish red of our daytime sun out west as we continue to have yet another summer battling forest fires. And the bright red of a heart that sits on my desk this morning, made for me by my youngest son at summer camp. The effort of his small fingers is visible in the jagged lines at the edges.

There are several good news items in this newsletter. We’re proud to have added a new feature sharing the amazing work being led by our member organizations; if you have something to share, please let me know! And my personal favorite news item to share is that Together We Grow’s team has doubled in size! I’m beyond delighted to introduce our new recruit, Russell Schiller, below — and his work to increase the visibility of our industry and the careers within it to young people.

Which brings me back to tomatoes, fire suns, and paper hearts. The symbolism of these objects is not lost me. They are, indeed, symbolic of the work we continue to engage in as a consortium.

Those tomatoes — the sweet ripe fruit of seeds planted much earlier in the year and then tended to in small and intentional ways over and over again… Much like the work you all are leading transforming your cultures and the collective culture of this industry.

Our smoky skies — a reminder that we are still in this battle. We continue to face challenges, but we also continue to adapt and show up with grit and humble determination.

And heart. This consortium is filled with people who never cease to amaze me in their dedication to one another, the people in their organizations, their communities, and the nation.

To those of you ensuring the tomatoes grow, the blazes get put out, and that those who need it most feel the heart you’re bringing to the world, thank you.


This message was included in Together We Grow’s August 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.