Powerful Partnerships

Written By: Robin Bartholow, Sonoma County Farm Bureau Deputy Executive Director
Published: August 10, 2022

Important Editorial Note by Robin Bartholow: My editorial column in July ended with what I thought was good news from a study by the University of Georgia that the Monarch butterfly was doing “quite well” in North America. Suffice it to say I was shocked when I read over the weekend in the Press Democrat that the Monarch has been added to the endangered species list! I had to find out how in the world two completely different narratives can exist that are supposed to be science-based. So, I reached out to the Andy Davis, a co-author of the study at the University of Georgia and asked about the discrepancy. Here is what he said in response to my email:

“The idea that monarchs are in trouble is basically a myth that just won’t go away, and it is being perpetuated by some who (I think) have good intentions. Some … believe that if people think monarchs are in trouble, this will motivate them to create gardens, donate to charities, etc. But, in the end, it is not the truth, and the science is getting downplayed.”

Here is the link to his blog that addresses the politics, and the consequences, about fallaciously listing an insect (or animal) on the endangered species list:


I recommend you read his blog. Andy Davis studies the Monarch butterfly for a living and his viewpoint is important because it is based on first-hand knowledge. I am not a reporter and I cannot dig deeper than this into this story, but I believe in science and I stand by my original statement in July: the Monarch butterfly is doing “quite well.”

Powerful Partnerships Benefit and Shape Sonoma County Farm Bureau and our Community.

The words “partner” and “partnership” are thrown around a lot these days. What does it mean to be a partner in the organizational management sense (not the legal or personal sense)? A partner is defined as “one associated with another especially in an action;” and a partnership is the state of being a partner. In practice, sharing information, casting a wider net in the community, and leveraging individual power by working together in partnership goes a long way towards making positive impacts on the organizations involved and the community. This certainly rings true at SCFB.

As a newer member of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau (SCFB) team, I am keenly aware of the positive impact this organization has in our community. Here are just a few SCFB partnerships to highlight this month, with a focus on some of our most recent collaborations:
Economic Development and Advocacy Partnerships.

Sonoma County Business & Ag Consortium. This informal coalition of local business and agriculture associations boasts years of leadership experience and business-friendly action and achievements. Members include SCFB, Sonoma County Alliance, Santa Rosa Metro Chamber, North Bay Realtors, North Bay Leadership Council, Engineering Contractors Association and North Coast Builders Exchange. Top-level management from each of these organizations come together regularly to examine and discuss important issues, legislation and activity that might be particularly helpful or harmful to our local businesses. They also strategize to support, get in front of or face critical issues head-on with local elected officials and industry leaders. This group is a powerhouse of leadership in our local business community, and we benefit significantly from this partnership.

Educational / Workforce Development Partnerships.

SCFB Scholarship Program. We could not reach the number of students we reach and have the positive impact we have on our future leaders in agriculture and beyond without the over 50 partnerships with local farmers and ranchers who sponsor our named scholarships. The commitment shown by these families to collaborate with us to support our next generation of leaders is truly inspiring and benefits the entire community.

Environmental Benefit Partnerships. There are so many of these that we are a part of. Here are a few of the most recent partnerships we are working on that will create a positive impact on our environment:
California Tiger Salamander Safe Harbor Agreement. We are partnering with the North Bay Water District, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Sonoma Alliance for Vineyards and the Environment (SAVE) to administer the implementation of this forward-thinking agreement to provide habitat restoration and enhancement for the California Tiger Salamander (CTS), while at the same time protecting the rights of existing vineyard owners in the Santa Rosa Plain to conduct their farming activities. The net outcome of this program will be more protection for the CTS and protection for existing vineyard owners whose property is in designated CTS territory. It is a powerful win-win.

SCFB Groundwater and Pond Release Grant Program. We were awarded a grant from California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to reduce drought impacts in California. This grant will create several mini-grants for costs incurred by successful grant applicants in the placement, operation and maintenance of “pipes and pumps” for water releases in priority coho salmon stream tributaries to the Russian River, namely, Green Valley Creek, Mark West Creek, Dutch Bill Creek, and Mill Creek. Once the infrastructure is in place, upon request from the CDFW, water releases will be made by grantees from an existing groundwater well or pond to aid in the survival of coho salmon and steelhead at risk of death due to extreme drought in the Russian River watershed. Look for more on this grant opportunity soon if you have property near the four creeks listed above.

Other Foundational Partnerships.

Our partnerships with California Farm Bureau (CFB) and other county Farm Bureaus. I spent three days in Sacramento in June learning about the dynamic Farm Bureau system. CFB provides many services to county Farm Bureaus, and one of its newer programs is the California Bountiful Foundation. The aim of California Bountiful Foundation is to provide farmers and ranchers in California with the most recent science and research to influence policy that benefits the state’s rich agricultural community. The data they gather will also make it easier for county Farm Bureaus to tell our story of the role our industry plays in the economic health and environmental resilience in our state and region. Our partnerships with other county Farm Bureaus continue to be a resource for activity on regional programs and for collaboration on best practices so that every farm bureau is more effective.

Our partnerships with our members. Finally, and most importantly, our members make all our work and our impact possible… yep, all of it. You as members provide our financial foundation, and many of you also spend your own valuable time to participate and volunteer at our events. Some of you even spend hours upon hours sitting on our boards and our committees. For this we cannot thank you enough.

Quote of the month: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford.

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