Executive Director’s Notebook: Inaugural lands summit, webinars illustrate Governors’ fast start in 2018

By Jim Ogsbury

As noted in the previous entry of the Executive Director's Notebook regarding WGA's biggest 2017 successes, whenever I think that Western Governors have raised the bar as high as it can go, they find new ways to elevate it further. 

Their pursuit of that goal for 2018 has begun in earnest.  The following represents a brief preview of their work for the coming year. 

State-Federal Relationship: Western Governors are dedicated to changing the paradigm of state-federal relations to more productively engage the states in the development of federal policy.  That work will be advanced when the Governors gather in Washington, D.C. for a face-to-face meeting with cabinet officials on February 25 and during a February 27 federalism symposium organized by WGA. 

Webinars: The webinar series for the Workforce Development Initiative, the central policy effort of WGA Chair and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, kicks off on Feb. 15 with "Strategies to Expand Youth Apprenticeship," which will highlight what it takes to build high-quality, state-led youth apprenticeship programs. "Moving Toward Career Readiness Goals" follows on March 8 with a focus on how states are working to ensure high school students are prepared to enter the workforce.

Western Lands: The first-ever WGA “Western Working Lands Forum” will be held March 15-16 in Denver. The summit will examine cross-cutting issues associated with WGA initiatives such as the Species Conservation and ESA Initiative and the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.  In addition, the forum will promote greater interdisciplinary coordination and cooperation with respect to the management of public lands, endangered species, forestry resources and invasive species. 

Annual Meeting: Planning is well underway for our 2018 Annual Meeting, hosted by Gov. Daugaard. The meeting, scheduled for June 25-27 in Rapid City, will feature an expedition to Mount Rushmore, conversations with Administration officials, and an in-depth exploration of policy issues surrounding the opioid epidemic.

In addition, Western Governors will also consider recommendations produced by the Workforce Development Initiative, promote inclusion of their priorities in the next federal Farm Bill, and host a series of WGA sponsor lunches across the West. 

I hope you will become or remain involved in the activities of Western Governors and invite you to watch this space as we report on their accomplishments throughout the year. 

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or send an email. Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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