I hope everyone has had an opportunity to get a little rest this summer. I also hope that you found the GVATA summer conference to be productive. I sit here today on the first day of school for Pickens County, probably the most hectic day of the year, and I open an email about the budget cuts. Like most of you, I knew it was probably coming but I still held on to some hope that it wouldn’t. Many people have publicly said that times would get worse before they get better, I guess they were right.
I am writing you today to ask that you do a very important job for your profession. I want you to toot your own horn and brag on your program and your students. Make sure that nothing you or your students accomplish goes unnoticed. We as a group must get the word out to everyone how important our local programs are to our students and our communities. If we do not recognize and promote our chapter and students, then who will?
This past summer I was fortunate to be a part of a group of teachers that met with Mr. Bridges to discuss ways to improve our Agricultural Education program here in Georgia. A challenge arose from the group to have every teacher in Georgia to invite their local Representative and Senator to participate in a FFA event at their school. The group suggested that you could invite them to speak to your classes, attend chapter meetings, attend alumni meetings, assist with career development events, or serve as judges for your local CDE’s. I hope that you will seriously consider doing this as we continue to promote and defend our program during these very difficult economic times. While we have received some reductions to our funding, we continue to maintain strong financial support from the General Assembly.
I would like to add one additional request. I want you to take a picture when you have a Representative or Senator come and visit your class or participate in a FFA activity. Please write a brief caption for the photo telling who is in the photo, the activity attended, date and location. Please send the photo and caption to me. I promise that every single one of them will be put on the GVATA website. I will ask David Turner to set up a link on the GVATA home page so that everyone can go see the supporters that we have for our program.
I realize that school is just starting for most of us. I also know that there is not a slow time of the year for Ag teachers. This request is too important for you to put it on the back burner. Please take time today to look at your calendar, set aside some dates, make some contacts and get the people who have the power to make major decisions in to your classroom. Spending a day with a Representative or Senator is a great experience. They want to know who you are and what you do. But more importantly they want to see the students engaged in your program. Their visit to your program will put a name and a face to the local agricultural education program when the 2011 General Assembly session begins.
I wish each and every one of you a very successful and productive year.
Thank you for your time today and please know that I am here if you need me.