WTAMU student represented 4-H in National Ag Day in DC

Savannah Welsey, Features Editor

Photo Courtesy of Anika Parks
Anika Parks represented her home state of California as a 4-H member at National Ag Day in Washington D.C.

Anika Parks, a senior at West Texas A&M University, will be attending National Ag Day in Washington D.C. as a representative of National 4-H.

“Being selected as one of ten representatives of National 4-H is a huge honor, and I am extremely excited and humbled by the opportunity,” said Parks. “I owe a debt I can never truly repay to 4-H and to West Texas A&M University for helping prepare me for unbelievable opportunities like this.”

The agricultural media and communication major represented California, her native state, as a member of National 4-H from March 12-14. With the support of the pharmaceutical company Bayer, ten representatives from across the nation were selected to attend National Ag Day on Capitol Hill on the behalf of 4-H.

“Anika is worthy of this honor because she has been intentional in her studies and activities, which are recognized by this opportunity,” said Dr. Tanner Robertson, associate professor of agricultural sciences and advisor for Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. “To say this is an elite group is an understatement, especially when you consider Anika is representing California.”

Various agricultural organizations will be represented by students from around the nation including FFA, Agriculture Future of America (AFA) and the Minorites in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). Students will celebrate the contributions of farms across the country while learning more about the roles of agriculture.

“Attending National Ag Day in this capacity is an amazing opportunity,” said Micah Davidson, a graduate assistant for Ag Ambassadors. “Anika will get to meet with representatives, as well as receive valuable training on effective ways to communicate with our nation’s leaders … There is potential for a lot to get done on behalf of agriculture.”

While in D.C., the representatives will have an opportunity to discuss with members of Congress and industry leaders about agriculture and its importance. This provides representatives with a chance to put a face on agriculture with the country’s elected officials. 4-H representatives, due to the support from Bayer, will have an extra day of training covering trade regulation, agricultural policy and an embassy visit.

“I still feel nervous about the meetings, but I know it will be for nothing,” said Parks. “Because I have people cheering me on from one side of the country to the other, and I know I won’t let them down.”

But through this nervousness, Parks had many to lean on for support. Kern County 4-H and the [WTAMU] Department of Agricultural Sciences had given Parks various resources to help her prepare. Randall County 4-H supported Parks through the application process, and her friends and family let her discuss various aspects of agriculture with them to make sure she knew how to say what she wanted to say.

“Anika came to WTAMU with a goal to work in extension, and she has taken any opportunity to improve her skills and network to do so,” said Robertson. “This trip is a culmination of her efforts and her ability and shows her devotion and commitment to her chosen path.” “Anika has done an excellent job representing the Department of Agriculture as an Ag Ambassador…,” said Davidson. “Skills from these parts of being an Ag Ambassador will translate to her time in DC.”

Parks is an Agricultural Ambassador at WTAMU and the secretary for the organization Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She has been involved in 4-H since she was seven years old and continued until she graduated from high school in Bakersfield, California. Parks was also the intern at the Randall County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office in the spring of 2018. She will be graduating this upcoming May.

“I owe my current career path entirely to 4-H. Without it, I would have never discovered West Texas A&M University, and I have no idea where I would be or what I would be doing…,” said Parks. “4-H is the single most influential part of my life, and I am so blessed to still have the chance to be involved with an organization that has made such a difference in me.”

EDIT MADE 3/28/19: Correction regarding the organizations represented by the students. Replaced the Student National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) with Minorites in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS).