Krysta Harden, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), visited the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Harden met with University officials, distinguished alumni and students, took a tour of the UDairy Creamery and participated in a discussion with students on issues such as the need for Congress to pass a comprehensive food, farm and jobs bill to support a strong U.S. agricultural sector.
Harden, who was raised in Camilla, Ga., and comes from generations of southwest Georgia farmers, said it is important for students to get hands-on experiences and step outside of their comfort zones in order to become well-rounded individuals.
“There’s nothing like testing yourself,” said Harden. “Learning, dealing with challenges yourself is so different from the classroom. It’s good to have that foundation that you really don’t know how you’re going to react until it’s you making the decisions. So I think it’s very important to make sure you have good practical experience.”
Harden said she was impressed with CANR, saying, “It is a wonderful campus. I just felt right at home immediately. Folks are very welcoming and encouraging. There’s a great energy here, a good dynamic with the students. Everybody is smiling — maybe it’s the ice cream, I don’t know, but people are in a good mood here. It’s great.”
She was also impressed with the UDairy Creamery and the creamery’s ice cream truck, the Moo Mobile, which came to UD’s campus through a partnership with CANR and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. “I love the Moo Mobile,” Harden said. “I think that was a great idea, and I love the marketing. I love how it ties the business school and (CANR). It’s a great opportunity.”
Harden said these types of interdisciplinary collaborations are important to universities, especially to students studying agriculture.
“That’s one thing about agriculture and all aspects of the food chain, from production through marketing of products, you have to know about business,” Harden said. “Having the two disciplines together at these early stages is great.”
She added that it is beneficial to have students learning about management and marketing issues, as well as financial planning and budgeting.
Of the flavors she tried at the UDairy Creamery, Harden singled out the sweet potato pie, saying she had never had that flavor before.
Before leaving, Harden said that she had a great time visiting UD and the CANR campus. “It was wonderful to be here. I’m very excited about the future of all the students I’ve met. I think you have something good going on here. I really do.”
Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Danielle Quigley
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