Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with a group of select Georgia 4-H’ers on Friday, Oct. 6, in recognition of National 4-H Week, held Oct. 2-6.
Perdue and the students toured the 4-H exhibits at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia, the former Georgia governor’s hometown. He also heard presentations from three Georgia 4-H’ers: Amelia Day of Houston County, Angel Austin of Ben Hill County and Evie Woodward of Coffee County.
Day received the 2017 Youth in Action Award from the National 4-H Council for creating Operation: Veteran Smiles, a nonprofit organization that delivers handmade cards and toiletries to patients at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.
Austin, an ambassador for 4-H’s healthy living programs and vice president of Georgia 4-H, turned her memories of gardening with her grandmother into a community garden revitalization project in her county.
After learning about food-insecure children in her county, Woodward began bagging snacks to send home with students before weekends away from school. As a result, the Bagging Hunger program was created. More than 3,500 snack bags have been delivered to date.
Perdue said that these 4-H’ers are proof that “you don’t have to wait until you’re an adult to make a difference.”
The secretary told the students that one of U.S. agriculture’s greatest needs is public education about the growth and production of the country’s food supply.
“We need great communicators,” he said. “Young people have more innocence and credibility, which gives you the power to make a difference. (The agriculture community) can no longer sit behind the farm fence and farm. We have to communicate with consumers and let them know that our families eat the food we grow, too.”
State 4-H Leader and Director of 4-H Arch Smith thanked the secretary for visiting with Georgia 4-H members during National 4-H Week.
“Secretary Perdue has been a supporter and friend of 4-H throughout his time in public service,” Smith said. “His interaction with 4-H members was very genuine, and he impressed upon the 4-H members present the importance of their service to others and the need to communicate the importance of productive American agriculture in feeding the world’s population.”
Perdue told the 4-H’ers that growing up on a diversified farm in Georgia taught him about hard work. He encouraged 4-H’ers who live on a farm to invite their friends home to get a first-hand glimpse of agriculture.
“Farming is meaningful, purposeful work. I was doing very responsible jobs at a very young age,” he said. “My motto now (as Secretary of Agriculture) is to do right and feed everyone.”
To learn more about Georgia 4-H, go to Georgia4H.org.