Ore­gon Tilth is a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion and lead­ing cer­ti­fi­er, edu­ca­tor & advo­cate for organ­ic agri­cul­ture since 1974. Our mis­sion to make our food sys­tem and agri­cul­ture bio­log­i­cal­ly sound and social­ly equi­table requires us to find prac­ti­cal ways to tack­le big chal­lenges. We advance this mis­sion to bal­ance the needs of peo­ple and plan­et through focus on core areas of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, con­ser­va­tion, social equi­ty, pol­i­cy and the mar­ket­place. The orga­ni­za­tion is accred­it­ed by the USDA to offer organ­ic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ser­vices in accor­dance with the USDA Nation­al Organ­ic Pro­gram. Our cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram cur­rent­ly cer­ti­fies over 1800 oper­a­tions and their prod­ucts from seed to plate, includ­ing crop & live­stock farms, food han­dlers and proces­sors. Ore­gon Tilth cer­ti­fies over 3,750,000 acres of organ­ic land and over 29,600 organ­ic prod­ucts.

Chris Schrein­er has 20 years work expe­ri­ence in the organ­ic sec­tor. Since 1998, he has worked for Ore­gon Tilth. As Farm Pro­gram Coor­di­na­tor, Chris coor­di­nat­ed the organ­ic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process for over 400 farms. As Qual­i­ty Con­trol Direc­tor, his respon­si­bil­i­ties includ­ed pol­i­cy analy­sis and man­ag­ing accred­i­ta­tion with the USDA Nation­al Organ­ic Pro­gram. Chris has been Ore­gon Tilth’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor since 2009. In 2014, Chris served on the Ore­gon Governor’s Task Force on Genet­i­cal­ly Engi­neered Agri­cul­ture. Chris is cur­rent­ly the co-chair of the Nation­al Sus­tain­able Agri­cul­ture Coali­tion’s Research, Edu­ca­tion and Exten­sion Com­mit­tee.

 

Q&A with Chris Schrein­er

What are you pas­sion­ate about, in regard to your busi­ness?

Recent­ly, I’ve been pas­sion­ate about build­ing bridges and find­ing com­mon ground. Most food and agri­cul­ture isn’t organ­ic and I’m inter­est­ed in how we can make a com­pelling case for tran­si­tion­ing to organ­ic. This requires care­ful lis­ten­ing to under­stand moti­va­tions, chal­lenges and needs around sup­port & resources. I’ve been excit­ed about for­mal­iz­ing part­ner­ships with tra­di­tion­al agri­cul­tur­al agen­cies and insti­tu­tions like the USDA’s Nat­ur­al Resources Con­ser­va­tion Ser­vice and Ore­gon State Uni­ver­si­ty to increase access to exper­tise and resources about organ­ic food and agri­cul­ture.

What is the most valu­able lead­er­ship les­son you have learned?

As a ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion, peo­ple and rela­tion­ships are at the cen­ter of our suc­cess. Our peo­ple will per­form at their best when they are pro­vid­ed with three essen­tial items: 1) Mem­ber­ship — they feel con­nect­ed to a team and com­mu­ni­ty; 2) Mas­tery — they have oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn and gain knowl­edge & exper­tise; 3)Mission — their work is aligned with a pur­pose they believe in.

If you could give the 20-year-old you any piece of advice, what would it be?

Pace your­self and be care­ful of burnout. Life’s jour­ney is like a long-dis­tance run, not a 100-meter dash. Some­times per­fec­tion can be the ene­my of progress. Remem­ber there are diverse paths to achiev­ing the same goal. Be kind and com­pas­sion­ate to your­self & oth­ers.

 

 

 

 

 

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