The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue wasted no time getting to the point.
“There are no better youth organizations than 4-H and FFA in the Unites States of America,” Perdue said.
More than 50 Oklahoma FFA and 4-H members greeted Secretary Perdue on Wednesday at the Oklahoma National Stockyards Company. They talked one-on-one, took group pictures, and even snapped a few selfies with the Secretary, who applauded the youth organizations.
After touring the stockyards from atop the catwalk and learning about the 108-year-old business from Kelli Payne, Oklahoma National Stockyards Company yards liaison, Perdue spoke to agricultural youth and industry leaders in the sale arena, where there was standing room only. Perdue and attendees also heard from Bailey Ballou, a world livestock auctioneer champion.
Because Perdue grew up on a “dairy and diversified row crop farm in rural Georgia,” according to the USDA, he has a special appreciation for FFA and 4-H members. His career consisted of working as a farmer, agribusinessman, veterinarian, state legislator and Georgia governor before becoming the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
Perdue has visited many states since becoming secretary in 2017; however, Oklahoma FFA and 4-H members received a special Halloween treat this year by his visit to Oklahoma.
“We’re very proud to have Secretary Perdue here in Oklahoma today and taking time to visit with our Oklahoma 4-H members,” said Blayne Arthur, Oklahoma 4-H Foundation executive director. “He certainly knows the importance of the 4-H program, not only here in Oklahoma but across the United States, even his comments today about how important both 4-H and FFA programs are to our youth and creating the future leaders of Oklahoma expressed that. It’s fabulous to have him here.”
Jack Staats, Oklahoma State FFA advisor, said it was a great opportunity for FFA members to meet Secretary Perdue, someone who has a vast knowledge of agriculture and experience in politics and the industry.
Arthur said it was a special day for all students, one that will be remembered for a long time.
Perdue was introduced by Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese, and U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas and U.S. Congressman Steve Russell were also in attendance. Pictures from the event will be available on the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) Flickr account by the afternoon of Nov. 1.