Vilsack visits NERSBA facilities in Plymouth

Published 8:14 pm Friday, August 16, 2013


US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks to students at the Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology and Agriscience in Plymouth NC. (Contributed Photo/Tracy Asby)

On August 15, Tom Vilsack (the US Secretary of Agriculture) visited the Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology & Agriscience along with Domtar in Plymouth, NC.

During his visit to NERSBA, Vilsack visited the sophomore classrooms.

“He was able to tour the classrooms of Mrs. Connie Smith (Integrated Math), Ms. Stacy VanderMeeden (Humanities), and Ms. Ginny Paul (Biology).  NERSBA board members, members of local newspapers, and personnel accompanying Vilsack also participated in the tour.  During the classroom visits, Vilsack observed lessons and spoke with students and teachers about NERSBA,” said NERSBA Math Curriculum Specialist Tracy Asby.

After the tour, Vilsack spoke to an audience consisting of all NERSBA students and faculty along with parents, Board members, and Vernon James Center staff.  Vilsack questioned the students on their knowledge of  the jobs available in agriculture, international competition in agriculture with the U.S., the importance of agriculture in our education system, and products for mankind from agriculture.

When three students answered challenging questions from Vilsack, he presented them with a “challenge coin”.

At the end of the presentation, Vilsack was available for questions from the students.

The students asked various agriculture-related questions including how Vilsack became involved in agriculture and the right stance to take on domestic food aid.

Vilsack discussed his childhood starting in an orphanage, and moving through the various stages of life to where he is at now in the position of Secretary of Agriculture.

The Secretary mentioned he did not have a strong background in agriculture.

“But I have a strong understanding and appreciation for the people that work with agriculture, such as the local farmers,” he said.

Vilsack mentioned the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and food stamps as important resources to utilize for domestic aid.

At the end of the visit, the NERSBA officer team presented Vilsack with a plaque and made him an honorary member of the NERSBA FFA chapter.

Vilsack was scheduled to be visit Plymouth in June but was deterred by the weather.