Meet Randy Wood, IA’s new president

In this Q&A, learn about what Wood sees as the biggest challenges and opportunities the irrigation industry faces in the upcoming year. 
BY KYLE BROWN
Portrait of IA President Randy Wood

At the close of the 2022 Irrigation Show and Education Week, Randy Wood, president and CEO of Lindsay Corporation, Omaha, Nebraska, became president of the Irrigation Association. Wood has served on the IA Board since 2018 and took over for John Newlin, CIC, CIT, CLIA, who served as the 2022 IA president.

Wood talks about the challenges that irrigation professionals face currently and how the Irrigation Association can support the industry.

What do you see as some of the biggest opportunities currently for the Irrigation Association?

When I look at the opportunities for the industry, we’re obviously going to continue driving dialogue on issues connected directly to water, whether it’s water use efficiency, water use policy or the value of green space. I know we can be a larger player in areas that are more intrinsically linked to water, like climate change, carbon sequestration and technology adoption. I don’t think we can separate water from these broader issues.

The farm bill is obviously a big one for ag on a national scale, but I think we know that the expanding drought is going to really impact legislation for all segments of the industry on many different levels. We’ve got to be prepared for that. We can certainly make a difference as an industry, and I think this association gives us a strong and unified voice.

What do you see as your main goals for your time as president?

One of my goals that I see first and foremost is really supporting a strategic planning process focused on how we sustain and grow the association that is about demonstrating and creating value for the members. I view the IA as the preeminent authority on water when it comes to professional development, education, certification, advocacy and crafting the next generation of water leaders. That’s a responsibility we can’t take lightly.

I look at Natasha Rankin (MBA, CAE, Irrigation Association CEO) bringing in new leadership and new perspectives, and I think she’s built a great team. I know we’ve got a very engaged and supportive board. And that’s really a combination that can do some great things. I look forward to working with the entire board to support the association and our industry this coming year.

What do you think the IA is already doing well?

One area is certainly professional development, which goes back to education and certification. Nobody can do what we do. Nobody is uniquely positioned like we are as an association to really drive standards in those areas.

I think the second area is advocacy. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the ag side or the landscape turf side. If they restrict water use, both sides of the association are going to be impacted. So advocacy is a very important part of what the IA does.

It comes back again to that strong and unified voice. I think that those are two things that we’ve got to continue to excel at and can’t rest and say we’re good enough. They’re areas where we’re going to continue to get better.

What are you seeing as the future of the irrigation industry?

Again, focusing on education and advocacy is going to be really important. If I broaden that lens to look at the entire industry, I really think there’s going to be more and more pressure due to climate change and the carbon situation.

We’re going to have to be smarter and faster in how we prepare our members and constituents to operate in that environment. We’re going to have to be more data-driven and fact-based. And we’re going to have to have a strong, consistent story that really elevates what we do and talks about the importance of good irrigation practices and good irrigation training. That story says when water is scarce, our members are protected, and the community at large understands what we do and how it contributes to society as a whole.

Kyle Brown is the editor-in-chief of Irrigation & Lighting and can be reached via email.

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