Sheila Miller, Agricultural Coordinator

Berks County Celebrates

National Agriculture Day: March 20, 2008


Ag Day Proclamation Sponsors Photo Gallery

LEESPORT, PA - Berks County's Board of Commissioners officially declared March 20th, the first day of spring, as Agriculture Day and signed their names to a proclamation that was presented to the farm community during a day-long celebration.  An Open House at the county's Agricultural Center invited the public to visit the various agencies that assist the community with answers to agricultural questions, like the Penn State Cooperative Extension, USDA Farm Service Agency and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the county Conservation District and Agricultural Lands Preservation offices.

Sheila Miller, the new Agricultural Coordinator for Berks County, invited leaders of the farm and food industries to a networking session at the Ag Center to talk about the future of agriculture in the region and to look at ways to strengthen and sustain these vital economic drivers.  "It was a great sharing of ideas and concerns," she remarked.  "Ag Day gave us an opportunity to talk with one another and the general public about the importance of agriculture in our lives every day of the year."

Two Ag Day babies were welcomed at two Berks County hospitals.  At Reading Hospital and Medical Center, baby Paisley Messner was the first to arrive on Ag Day.  She is the daughter of Louanne Goho of Birdsboro.  Sue Giachero, Extension Educator for Family and Consumer Sciences presented the special mother and child with a basketful of resource information, healthy snacks, books and toy farm animals donated by Berks County's Better Kid Care.  At Saint Joseph's Medical Center, Eric Mendoza-Alvarez was welcomed by dairy farmer Diane Hartman, who provided his parents Jorge Mendoza and Maricela Alvarez-Martinez, with an Ag Day gift basket.

"Ag Day was the perfect day to acknowledge new life," said Giachero.   We welcomed two babies into Berks County.  Parents of both children were encouraged to introduce their children to farms and farmers at a young age. Children love animals and most sing "Old MacDonald."  It is important that we take these fun activities of young children and use them as opportunities for them to gain an understanding of where their food comes from."

The cooperation received from the two local hospitals was enthusiastic, said Miller.  "Saint Joseph's even used their electronic digital billboard to highlight agricultural facts throughout the day.  It was a tremendous way to reach hundreds of people as they drove by on one of our busiest highways, with ag facts alternating every seven seconds."

Miller said she was happy with the response from local media, and was pleased to have Berks County dairyman Ken Sanner participate in a live radio talk show on WEEU.  "Ken answered some tough questions about farming in the twenty-first century," she said.  "I was happy to have a Master Farmer and the president of Kutztown Young Farmers as one of the guests on Mike Faust's Feedback Show."

Other media turned out for the Ag Day celebration which gave Berks County farmers the chance to share their thoughts with thousands of viewers and readers.  "Electronic and print media turned out to learn more about Berks County's agricultural industry and the importance of our food and fiber system," Miller commented.  "All of us need to share that message with our non-farm neighbors and not wait for Ag Day to speak up for agriculture."

The day was highlighted by the donation of an Ag Day "basket" filled to overflowing with farm products from Berks County and the region.  This cornucopia of delicacies was presented to the three county commissioners by a group of young people who represent the future of agriculture, said Miller.  "We had representatives of 4-H and FFA, along with royalty from the dairy and sheep industries," she said.  "The Commissioners took time to visit with everyone who assembled in this food-filled finale.  They have shown their support for our number one industry, and we thank them."

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