DENVER, COLORADO, U.S.  — A consortium of some of the world’s largest agribusinesses focused on building a diverse workforce is creating an educational and research center at Colorado State University.

The Together We Grow Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will be located at the university’s National Western Center in Denver, Colorado, U.S. Kristin Kirkpatrick has been named the center’s executive director. She will focus on building a more diversified pipeline of talent for the agricultural industry.

“Our industry has a unique challenge and opportunity to nourish the world, and diversity and inclusion are the proven keys to the success we need to address this challenge,” said Michael D’Ambrose, senior vice-president and chief human resources officer for Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), who founded the TWG consortium. “Together We Grow gives us a platform to freely and openly share best practices across the industry and demonstrate the power of an aligned group committed to taking innovative industry-wide actions. The creation of TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will help us to take these efforts to the next level, and we are excited that CSU and Kristin have stepped in to lead the way forward.”

Kirkpatrick most recently directed the Colorado regional office of the national nonprofit Big Green, which integrates food literacy education into school curriculum across the country.

“Kristin’s background in public health, policy advocacy, and community planning make her an exceptional candidate to lead this exciting new partnership,” D’Ambrose said. “She is passionate in her belief that agriculture is our future, and creating more opportunities for more people in agriculture means a more secure future for all of us.”

Kirkpatrick also has been an instructor with the Colorado School of Public Health at CSU and served as chief of wellness planning for Bellisimo Development Inc., which created the landmark Bucking Horse and Jessup Farm developments in Fort Collins. She received a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from Colorado State and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado.

“Diverse perspectives and experiences are how we innovate quickly to solve some of the world’s most pressing global challenges. TWG’s Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agriculture will leverage and embrace these perspectives to shape our industry and future leaders,” said consortium member Melissa Harper, senior vice-president of Global Talent & Inclusion, Bayer Corporation.

Another consortium member, LeighAnne Baker, corporate senior vice-president and chief human resources officer for Cargill, said, “If we want to live up to our mission of nourishing the world, we need a workforce that is passionate about the challenge, culturally and technologically adept, and reflects the communities we serve. For Cargill, being part of Together We Grow and this new center is just smart business. It’s an investment in the future of our company, our industry, and our world.”

The CSU System will fund Kirkpatrick’s salary and provide space for the headquarters, and TWG will provide operational funds for the center. The office will be located at the CSU Campus at the National Western Center, slated to break ground in 2020 with a 2022 completion date.

As an initial offering of the center, Kirkpatrick will present on a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities on the journey of creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures, at the CSU Ag Innovation Summit on the CSU campus in Fort Collins on Dec. 5-6.

“CSU and Together We Grow share a strong commitment to expanding opportunities and attracting more people from all walks of life into the agricultural workforce,” said Tony Frank, chancellor of the CSU System. “We need a diverse, inclusive, and well-prepared workforce to confront the complex challenges of global hunger and food insecurity. Through this partnership, we aim to help more people from diverse backgrounds see their own future as leaders in agriculture.”