Oregon Aglink Blog

Pivot and Persevere

Posted on March 21, 2022
Headshot of a smiling man in a blue-checked shirt. A text box reads "President's Journal"
Fred Geschwill, Oregon Aglink President

It has been just over two years since I had the honor of becoming president of Oregon Aglink.

Prior to that, I had already spent a few years involved in the executive committee. During that time I had seen the organization grow and develop as we selected our current director Mallory Phelan and laid out a new strategic plan.

The first of those accomplishments, hiring Mallory has turned out to be a great success. She has led Oregon Aglink in reaching many goals and setting others, even while steering us through the last two years of unexpected pandemic measures.

The strategic plan from before the pandemic turned out to be a great resource for continuing our path to success through these times.

It has been quite impressive to see our leader and staff pivot and not only maintain our organization, but make it excel through these two years. While we have not always been able to do what we love, introducing Oregonians to agriculture in person through programs like Adopt a Farmer, we have found many ways to reach students virtually and keep spreading the word about Oregon agriculture to wide audiences.

While I was working my way toward being president, I started to form an idea of how I could help Oregon Aglink reach those goals. I wanted to go out and meet with some of the groups that have differing views on agriculture than we do. I wanted to travel around the state and try to find people that would benefit from Oregon Aglink and vice versa. Then, in my second month as president, a pandemic hit–not just my town or our state, but the world. I found myself living in a very different environment. So the question was “what to do?”

The answer was what everyone in agriculture always does: I pulled on my boots and kept working.

Like others at Oregon Aglink, I reassessed the situation, made sure that we would be able to make it out the other side of the hard times, and kept moving forward. The staff found a way to make this hard situation into a win for Oregon Aglink. We managed to keep getting our message out through online and virtual means. We made sure that our finances were not only stable but found ways to strengthen our balance sheet. We took the time to start a major new initiative for fundraising in the form of a health plan that is experiencing unprecedented success.  Our staff refocused onto projects that were suited to the time and made our organization better, including when they pulled off a virtual auction in 2020 and then an in-person auction in 2021 that will go down as one of the best ever. 

So, in closing, did I get to do what I had planned as president of Oregon Aglink? No, but I got to do one better. I had the chance to be involved with a great organization during a time that could be called a crisis, but should be viewed as a great opportunity. I got to witness our members, supporters and staff rise up and excel during these past two years.

In the end, even though it looked different than I had planned, I hope I managed to help a little.

Fred Geschwill
President, Oregon Aglink