Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CAST Goes on Spring Break

Like most college students, I began counting the days until Spring Break back at the beginning of the semester. However, when March 13th finally arrived I wasn’t headed to South Padre or even Panama City. I spent a majority of my Spring Break in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., celebrating National Ag Day.

I was among the nearly ninety collegiate students from across the country who traveled to D.C. for the National Ag Day festivities. Among the organizations represented were 4-H, FFA, Agriculture Future of America, Alpha Tau Alpha, NAADA, Alpha Gama Rho, Farmhouse, Sigma Alpha, and my sponsor, the National Agri-Marketing Association.

After a full day of training and networking at the National 4-H Center on March 14th, we enjoyed an evening monument tour through the National Mall. The sites were breathtaking but unfortunately for me, I lost my brand new Nikon camera to a storm sewer just outside of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. While it wasn’t too funny at the time, I look back now and chuckle because that was literally money down the drain. It’s at this point that I thanked God for smart phones, as luckily I was able to capture the rest of my trip on my brand new Droid X.

After opening remarks from the voice of American agriculture, Orion Samuelson, the Ag Day festivities kicked off with comments from Deputy Secretary Merrigan in the USDA Headquarters. Following the morning coffee at the USDA, I visited the American Farm Bureau Federation and had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Director of Public Relations, Mace Thornton. I then began my mad scramble around Capitol Hill, visiting three of the five offices of the Iowa delegation and the Capitol Building for a luncheon.

Due to the gracious support from CAST, I was able to attend the Celebration of Agriculture Dinner, held that evening in the USDA Whitten Building Patio. This event was by far my favorite part of National Ag Day, as I had the opportunity to meet more industry professionals than I could’ve ever imagined. We enjoyed a delicious pork dinner that looked like it was straight out of a magazine and heard from a number of outstanding speakers. Needless to say, it was a huge improvement from my typical college routine of Mac&Cheese and homework.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to work on my tan, I still very much enjoyed my Spring Break. I am honored that I had the opportunity to participate in National Ag Day and would like to thank both NAMA and CAST for helping make this experience possible.
Elizabeth Burns-Thompson (Editorial Administrative Assistant)

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