Just another Day: Visit with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Posted: May 18, 2012

May 16, 2012 marked a historical moment for the Pennsylvania 4-H State Council and PA Collegiate 4-H. For the first time since the council's/club's formation the officers were invited to participate in the USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack's visit to the Penn State, University Park campus.

Secretary Vilsack addressed the Penn State Community on Wednesday morning in the Millennium Science Complex to a crowd with standing room only. Secretary Vilsack described the efforts of the USDA and offered thoughts on the future of agriculture in our communities, county and world. The officers listened intently; some even took notes in preparation for their meeting where they would get to speak to the Secretary directly. The remarks concluded with a sense of hopefulness and support and soon the 4-Hers and the Secretary were off to lunch.

As the officers headed to their meeting room for lunch, anticipation grew and the nerves set in. In less than an hour, 2 of our finest 4-Hers would be sitting at a roundtable with researchers, deans and secretary Vilsack. Jeanette Blank, former State Council President and current Penn State Collegiate 4-H President and Logan hall, former State Council President and current Delaware Valley College Collegiate 4-H President took their places at the table. Soon the room began to fill with the roundtable experts and observers. The room was buzzing and cameras were flashing and then Dean Bruce McPheron and Secretary Vilsack entered the room.

Secretary Vilsack began the event with a few remarks and a brief introduction. Soon Dean McPheron welcomed everyone and asked our very own Jeanette Blank to kick off the afternoon discussion. Jeanette told the Secretary her 4-H story. She spoke of her family dairy farm and her experiences in 4-H and how 4-H has led her to her college and career path. The Secretary then asked Jeanette what advice she could offer him. Jeanette humbly said, “just educate the public. Society needs to know where their food comes from and that starts with the youngest of our generations.” Dean McPheron continued the facilitation of the discussion by asking the other college students at the table to speak. Next it was Logan’s turn. The Dean, in jest, said he would allow Logan to speak but only if he said nice things about Penn State! Logan too, spoke about his 4-H experiences and the opportunities that were available to him because of his 4-H involvement. Logan suggested the Secretary continue his promotion of agriculture but specifically in higher education and that the marketing of Ag be taken to the next level.

After 90 minutes of incredible stories and debate the roundtable came to a close. The officers got last minute pictures with the Secretary and promised him that they would continue to advocate for Agriculture and specifically research. The officers parted ways once again to their corners of the state in hopes that they’ve made an impact. Just another day as a 4-Her!