Last year, I had the honor of attending the Student Achievement Month (SAM) luncheon where I met a bright and eager student, Micah Level, who was participating in the Communities In Schools (CIS) program. Micah was last year’s public speaking winner for the statewide SAM contest. During his speech, he talked about how the CIS Youth Advocacy Leadership Program changed his life. Today, he and I keep in touch and I’d like to hold him up as one example of the ways that leadership and direct involvement with our youth is so important.
As your state agriculture commissioner, I am blessed with the opportunity to share the importance of agriculture with students throughout the year. Agriculture is our state’s No. 1 industry, and a $68.8 billion industry at that. It touches each of our lives every day. One of the greatest things I have seen is excitement about agriculture and a willingness to learn about where our food comes from and how we keep it safe.
In the past year, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) partnered with the Georgia Department of Education to foster a new “Feed My School” program. Through this initiative, more students are learning about Georgia commodities, meeting with farmers and understanding what agriculture means to our state. The program also includes increasing the nutritional value and quality of food in Georgia schools and bridging the communication gaps from the farm to the cafeteria, resulting in healthier Georgia children. It is my hope this program will continue to grow, and agriculture in the classroom only gets bigger and more exciting!
I have been serving at the GDA since 2011, when we renamed our conference room the “Horizons Room.” That name change was important to me; it showcases the role youth play in the future of agriculture. Images of Georgia’s 4-H and FFA student members line the walls and remind all visitors that agriculture starts with our young Georgians.
Commending programs such as CIS is an understatement to all the efforts our educational leaders promote in Georgia, and I gladly will continue to voice the importance of agriculture as part of these efforts.
Commissioner, Georgia Department of Agriculture