by Seth Middleton, AgriPOWER Class VIII participant
The day had finally come to enter the world of political action on our trip to Washington D.C. for the AgriPOWER Class VIII. For most of us entering the Columbus airport, it been since our 8th grade class trip since we had last stepped foot in Washington D.C. (albeit much smaller shoes). Now those shoes we filled were more knowledgeable and experienced souls.
With a rather jam-packed schedule, we started off at the American Farm Bureau where the conference room was filled with presenters, Young Ag Professionals (YAP’ers) and the prestige of the AgriPOWER class. The mid-day presentation began with Mary Kay Thatcher and the Farm Bill and an update on Big Data, Food Safety with Kristi Bosewell and Trade from Dave Salmonsen. A huge surprise before our tour of the American Farm Bureau offices was AFBF President Zippy Duvall stopped in to address the class and give some insight to how he got where he was by starting in a place similar to where we sat that day.
The next day we got to cut our teeth in Trade and U.S. Agriculture presented by Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs. A big reason for this was to understand the Trans Pacific Partnership which she had been involved with since its beginnings in 2009. From there we departed to learn how the rest of the world trades, starting in the European Union and the French Embassy.
The time had come for Congressional visits with our local leaders. I along with 11 others started in the Longworth House Office Building for Jim Jordan with his legal assistant Tiffany Angulo. Where we found Congressman Jordan was in the Capitol Building. She made a call and he made time for us outside the capitol building where we had a few minutes to talk and snap a picture.
This is where the trip took an interesting turn. At the capitol there was a head of state funeral where Vice President Biden was in attendance. So we watched a procession of police motorcade along with secret service lead him away through the city to his next appointment. Within minutes of that Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner was departing a meeting with Congress for LGBT rights. The biggest name I had seen up to that point in my life was the big butter cow at the Ohio State Fair. My day was far from over. The afternoon had us attending a Senate Ag Committee briefing over in the Russell Senate office building. After going through security we entered a hallway with Senator Ted Cruz and several reporters walking our way. Again me, small town Ohio standing within arm’s length of one of the potential candidates for President of the United States. How does this day get any better, right. . . . well as a few of us are waiting on the elevator to meet up with our group, Senator Marco Rubio actually gets onto the elevator with us. This time I control myself long enough to ask the Senator if he minds if I snap a photo and he obliges. The night ended with OFBF’s Yvonne Lesicko’s tour of the monuments which I believe may one day be her retirement job.
The knowledge and experience gained on this trip was amazing while truly a learning process of the democratic society in which we live.
Photo: Members of the AgriPOWER class with Rep. Jim Jordan.