‘Champions of Change’ set a high bar

By Kenna Lewis

For the Capital Press

The White House honors Champions of Change in agriculture.

“Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” This fitting phrase was offered by President Barack Obama to describe the 15 men and women who were recently named by the White House as “Champions of Change” for Agriculture. These champions include farmers, business leaders, lawyers, scientists and FFA members from across the nation whose innovation and dedication is building a bridge to the next generation of farming and ranching.

The “Champions of Change” program was created in 2011 as a part of Obama’s “Win the Future” initiative. Its purpose is to highlight the extraordinary efforts of Americans who are working to propel their communities and industries above the rest. Each week, a different issue is featured ranging from education to entrepreneurship to community activism. With each category, a new group of champions is brought to the White House to share their stories and ideas for the future, and be recognized for the outstanding work they are doing in their communities.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden was thrilled when the White House chose to feature champions in agriculture, for these are the individuals responsible for providing the nation with food, fiber, fuel and flora.

“It’s an important story to tell,” Harden said at a White House event honoring the recipients.

Among the distinguished list of Agriculture “Champions of Change” are 10 Farm Bureau members, including Jake Carter, chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. During a White House panel discussion with other honorees, Carter described how he got into the business of agritourism when he noticed the large disconnect between farmers and consumers.

“We realized the people around us were often two, three, four generations removed from the farm,” Carter said. He owns and operates Southern Belle Farm, just 30 miles outside of Atlanta, Georgia. The farm consists of U-Pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and peaches, and offers educational tours for young students. Additionally, there are a number of interactive activities including a 7-acre corn maze and seasonal events for consumers of all ages. Carter recognizes the need for an informed public and aims to share the joys of a life in agriculture with all who visit.

The “Champions of Change” for Agriculture event at the White House was held in late July and included remarks from Harden and Sam Kass, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy advisor for nutrition policy at the White House. Both speakers stressed how agriculture faces a great challenge today, but the ingenuity and passion of these recipients provide great hope.

“You are the face of agriculture today, and tomorrow too,” Harden said. “The work you’re doing is at the very core of the future of our country,” Kass added.

Other Farm Bureau members recognized as “Champions of Change” for Agriculture include Lee Haynes, Alabama; Kristin Fritz Kubiszak, Michigan; Melinda Litvinas and Jacob Hunt, Delaware and New Jersey; Quint Pottinger, Kentucky; Lindsey Lusher Shute, New York; Pierre Sleiman, California; Beth Tharp, Indiana; and Desiree Wineland, Nebraska.

Learn more about the “Champions of Change” program and nominate a champion at http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Kenna Lewis, a student at California Polytechnic Institute, was a summer communications intern at the American Farm Bureau Federation in 2014.



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