Water Warrior Honored for Effortsby Matthew Weaver
Capital Press, March 15, 2012
'She's like the little engine that could, she doesn't quit'
The Family Farm Alliance recently honored a longtime champion of irrigated agriculture in Washington state.
Alice Parker, a longtime staff member and current trustee for the Columbia Basin Development League, received the John Keys III Memorial Award.
Dan Keppen, alliance executive director, said Parker exemplifies partnership between multiple organizations. He pointed to her ability to bring together irrigation and power interests in the Columbia Basin.
"She's very passionate and so respected," Keppen said. "She has a great network and is really trusted because she's so consistent."
Parker, 78, of Royal City, Wash., is the third recipient of the award.
"Irrigated agriculture produces so much of our food supply and you can't produce what we can with a little bit of water," Parker said.
Parker has been an advocate for agriculture much of her life.
"I feel like people look down at farmers and think, 'You're such a minority these days,' but they don't stop and think how important we are to their lives," she said. "It's important we continue to tell that story. (Farmers) all need to hold their head high. We need to be proud of the job we're doing."
After 19 years, Parker retired from the league staff in 2010 for health reasons.
Mike LaPlant, president of the Washington State Farm Bureau and a member of the league's board of trustees, credited Parker with leading efforts in the early 2000s to expand the Columbia Basin Project and address declining aquifer levels in the Odessa subarea.
"You have to have a catalyst, and that was Alice," LaPlant said, noting he was president of the development league at the time. "She's like the little engine that could, she doesn't quit."
Longtime league executive board member Dale Pomeroy recently selected Parker to join him on the Grant County Economic Development Council board, as part of efforts to increase agricultural representation.
Pomeroy credited Parker with providing communication between farmers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The depletion of aquifers is the biggest issue the Columbia Basin faces today, he said.
"I wanted to bring Alice on because she has such a wealth of information in the water issues," he said.
Columbia Basin Irrigation Project - The Second Half by Alice Parker, Wheat Life, November 2004
also try searching "Alice Parker" using google search from a bluefish.org index page.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs