This past month, my good friend, Alan Shank, passed unexpectedly after a brief illness. His friendship was important to me and I’d like to share why.
My connection to Alan came through our mutual efforts to provide education to horse owners on ways to reduce our impact on the environment. I worked with Alan for about 20 years, partnering with him both in his role as Farm Planner at the Snohomish Conservation District and after he left the District. He was a part of many farm tours and classes that we conducted in Snohomish County, Washington. He also hosted many tours and classes at his wonderful horse properties in Mukilteo and Monroe. I used his quotes in my newsletter. I interviewed him for articles I wrote for magazines. I used photos of his properties to illustrate my Power Points and articles.
Alan’s knowledge was deep, but it was his passion and genuine nature that made him effective. He truly cared about the environment, about horses, the agricultural industry, and about people. His stories were honest and funny, which made his messages hit home. And his laugh… it was infectious. I will forever remember him laughing about anything and everything.
Anything Alan had to say, I wanted to hear. He spoke out about injustices but was a friend to everyone. He was always a seeker, looking for answers. He tried to see things through other’s eyes and was open to change. For me, he was a moral and environmental compass.
Alan’s Earthly absence reminds me not to dwell on loss, but to think about gain; I find some solace in that. Alan has left for us the example that we may spend our whole life chasing something—but if it’s a good thing to chase, that’s what’s important.
Through his example, many were inspired to take action on their own properties and in their own communities. We can likewise share the message of better stewardship with our horse friends and neighbors, especially when we do so with kindness and compassion, as Alan so easily did.
Each of our jobs here is more important as we carry forth in his footsteps. Alan would hope for that of us.
Ride on in greener pastures my friend. We will carry on down here without you, but you are missed.