Lauren Baer: July update

As a high schooler, I ran track and field. I typically ran independent events – such as the 1- and 2-mile – that depended solely on my efforts in the race and on my own investment in training. I clearly remember, however, one track meet when I was asked to join the 800-meter relay race. Looking back, it was the first time I felt the weight of the effort of the people who ran before me. I remember wanting to ensure I built on the race they had run and was part of the best outcome we could achieve as a team.

And now in a similar way, I am taking the baton and building on efforts of others before me. I am thrilled to be joining a team of dedicated people – our members, our partners and staff at Together We Grow – who have been hard at work for many years.

Much in the same way that races are hard, exhausting, and require physical, mental, and emotional attention, so does our work towards equity, inclusion, and building a better tomorrow. Our work is like a marathon or a journey – long, but worth every bit of the hard work to achieve progress.

I’ve been reflecting on the importance of Together We Grow and its members to agriculture and food since I came onboard in early June. I have quickly come to realize two things: 1) the people connected to Together We Grow genuinely care and are invested in progress, and 2) our power as an organization is this collective. Each of us is key to advancing this journey. Each of us coming together can solve the challenges facing us in building a diverse, inclusive, and skilled workforce of the future for agriculture and food. The power of this consortium is in individuals forming a team to solve these problems that affect our communities and our world.

My goal in these first few months is to listen and learn. I want to hear from you and understand your experience and feedback. I want to ensure we are building a clear and focused strategy for Together We Grow that is informed by our members and those that bring additional expertise and understanding to our journey.

I am excited. I am hopeful. I am grateful. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join you in this mission.

Lauren Baer
Executive Director, Together We Grow

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