Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ag in the Classroom




Miss Idaho Kara Jackson meets with students in the Deary School district. Her topic was Idaho agriculture and commodities grown in Idaho--Bob Smathers photo.

KARA JACKSON, MISS IDAHO MEETS THE PRESS

Deary--Kara Jackson, the reigning Miss Idaho is creating quite a stir in the Gem State. The young co-ed has put school on hold until after the Miss America pageant and is spending every day speaking to groups about her unique pageant platform: platform:"Modern Agriculture: Supporting and Sustaining Society". Her message helps consumers understand where their food comes from and the importance of farming in our lives. Last month Jackson was named to the Ada County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, one of the youngest directors ever in Ada County.

You won the Miss Idaho title on an Ag Awareness platform, how did this come to be?

In high school I became very involved in FFA, following in the steps of a lot of people who are now involved in the Agriculture industry. I served as a state FFA officer and then I ran for a national FFA office. I prepared really hard for the National FFA office for six months for all the different interviews, and I didn’t get the office so I came back to Boise and wondered what to do. How can I still promote agricultural education? And I came across the Miss Idaho Organization. I had always followed Miss America and knew that they had platforms so when I thought about competing, agricultural awareness was the first thing that popped into my mind. I guess it’s something I have been doing since I was a 4-H member and FFA member. It’s something that’s really been a passion for quite a while.

What’s one thing every Idaho child should know about agriculture?

"There are a lot of things that the youth need to realize but I think the most important thing is everything we eat comes from a farm. There is a real disconnect there and from agriculture. Sometimes when I’m in the schools I ask kids what have you eaten today that’s not from a farm. I get funny answers like lunch meat or milk or a granola bar. Kids just aren’t making the connection that everything they’re eating throughout the day, the clothes they wear, houses they live in, those are all products of the agriculture industry."

You’re travelling Idaho, what are you doing to bring this Ag agenda forward?

"I’m trying to travel throughout the state, a lot of times with the help of County Farm Bureaus and the Idaho Farm Bureau to get my message out, particularly in the schools but also in civic organizations and everything like that. So for instance a few weeks ago I went to Bingham County and I was able to do 8 or 9 assemblies in one day. The assemblies were full of children and it’s so much fun to talk to them about everything we produce in Idaho and how important it is for us to respect farmers and appreciate the agriculture industry. It’s just really interesting to see the vibe and attention I get from them and how you see the light bulbs turn on not only in the students mind but the adults watching; whether it’s the Meridian Ag show or the places I go. I like to see how people make the connection to agriculture in their daily lives.

How has the pageant world reacted to your unique platform?

"It is incredibly unique, it’s something that Miss America Pageant has never seen on the national level and I think it’s positive. We are trying to change the Miss America Organization so it’s more relatable, current and hip; I think my platform applies to that. My platform is applicable to every person in the country because everyone eats, everyone wears clothes, everyone lives in a house and goes to school agriculture plays an important part of our daily lives. I think it interests people; it’s a bit of a shocker but it’s what the Miss America organization needs and I’ve had a very positive reaction. At first I wasn’t very sure about it; how I was going to get a response but so far it’s been very positive and people seem excited about it.

You recently became a member of the Ada County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, you might be the youngest person every chosen for that position, certainly the first Miss Idaho, what do you hope to contribute?

For me it great, simply because I’ve heard from Young Farmers and Ranchers and FFA and my studies of the Agriculture Industry that we need to get young people involved in the agriculture industry. Especially with the average age of a farmer being 55 it’s critical that we get my generation and even younger generations interested in farming. For me being on the Ada County Farm Bureau Board has been an incredible privilege, it’s an honor and hopefully I’ll be able to attract that younger generation. I think when other people see that someone their age or a little bit younger, it might motivate them to be involved too. I think more than anything my added responsibilities will help stimulate an interest in agriculture within the younger generation.

Tell us about the Pageant, When is it? Can people watch you compete on TV?

The Miss America Pageant is in Las Vegas. I leave January 20th; finals night will air on National Television January 30th and that’s on the TLC channel. The night before that TLC will air a special on January 29th with all of us contestants; America has a chance to vote for their favorite contestant. The four girls with the most votes automatically make it the top 15, so I encourage everyone to vote, it will definitely help me a lot. Between now and then I’ll be very busy not only with my Miss America preparations but also appearances and promoting my platform

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