BY NAOMI INMAN

When the Oregon Family Farmer sat down with State Representative Mike McLane, we quickly realized that Oregonians were getting a two-for-one leadership team.  Holly Craig McLane is not only the supportive wife of an agricultural advocate, she is herself a lifelong advocate and champion of Oregon’s ag community.

When 12-year-old Holly Craig uprooted from the southern California suburbs to Chehalem Mountain in Newberg, Ore., her dream came true of owning a horse and “going on trail rides all summer long,” she remembers.

Holly Craig and Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield

Holly Craig and Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield

By her senior year at Newberg High, Holly achieved a new dream as first lady of Oregon’s FFA.  The 1985 FFA State Nominating Committee selected her as State President, the first female to hold the office in Oregon.

“I can’t think of any other club that immerses you in leadership training and hands-on learning like FFA. You just can’t replicate that in the classroom,” says Holly.  “I had the experience of a lifetime.”

Throughout the 1985-86 tour as state president, her team visited every FFA high school in Oregon twice, teaching leadership seminars and staying in dozens of host homes.  “That’s when I realized there was an entire state east of the Cascades. I also realized my huge passion to be an advocate for Oregon agriculture.”

She spent a week in Washington, D.C., even garnering a newspaper snapshot of herself on the front row as President and Nancy Reagan walked past.  A prized clipping in her scrapbook.

Holly’s tenacious drive was cultivated at Newberg’s FFA chapter under the legendary leadership of FFA advisors Bob Beckner and Ron Stebbins, who first spotted the curly haired dynamo at Renne Jr. High’s student council and wrote asking her to consider joining FFA.

“I wrote them back, thanking them for the invitation but saying I wanted to wait and see,” says Holly. “ The next thing I knew, Mr. Beckner and Mr. Stebbins showed up at my door saying they had never received a letter back, and that was invitation enough.  They pitched me and my parents about agriculture.”

Holly was soon signed up for ag class while her friends set sights on cheerleading.  Although agriculture intrigued her somewhat, the leadership track excited her most.

She started college at OSU and completed her marketing degree at Portland State University. She interned with the Oregon Department of Agriculture marketing division, worked in the Oregon legislature, and the Oregon Department of Economic Development.  “It didn’t matter how, I just always loved marketing Oregon,” says Holly.

“Living to Serve” is the fourth stake in the FFA motto; a mission Holly lives out as the wife of State Representative Mike McLane, the mom of three, and untiring advocate for food-insecure families in rural Oregon.

You’ll find her these days helping administer the 10:17 Cattle Project, an outreach of Shiloh Ranch Cowboy Church that raises cattle to provide roping calves for local arenas, and has donated over 30,000 pounds of high-quality beef to local families in need since 2014.  Learn more about the Cattle Project at www.1017project.com