Weekly Columns

As a student, I looked forward to summer vacation when I had more time to explore my interests. I enjoyed participating in the Boys Club and church youth programs. One summer that I will always remember was when I taught kids how to swim. Helping others develop an interest or skill they can nurture throughout their life was particularly rewarding. 

We have a number of great programs throughout the state led by talented staff that help shape our future generations by teaching life lessons and skills, forever etching memories of summer in our heads. We all remember our favorite summer and the friends and experiences that made it the best. 

I know there are some young Arkansans who are taking advantage of this time out of school to help the community and to develop their interests. 

Recently I met with some remarkable students who spent part of their summer in Arkansas and Washington, D.C. developing their leadership skills. This group of young men and women represent the future leadership of our state. John Gairhan of Cabot, Marco Gargano of Hot Springs, Ashton Yarlbrough of Bentonville and Hannah Burdette of Little Rock visited Washington as representatives of Arkansas Boys and Girls Nation. 

As elected representatives of Arkansas Boys and Girls State, these teens were selected by their peers. This is a highly selective program that inspires involvement in government while fostering a confidence in lifelong skills. With past participants such as President Bill Clinton and Governor Mike Huckabee, this group of students will influence our state in the coming years. I was very impressed with these young leaders and look forward to hearing how this experience shapes and defines their future endeavors. 

As leaders of Arkansas’s Future Farmers of America (FFA), President Bryce Rohr from Mountain Home and Secretary Becca Burrow from Brinkley visited our nation’s capital for the FFA State Presidents’ Conference. Agriculture is critical to our state’s economy. One out of every six jobs in Arkansas is tied to this industry. 

It’s great to see teens taking an interest in learning more about agribusiness and being encouraged to enter farming and ranching to ensure that we can continue to meet the demands of the public with the largest and safest supply of food in the world. Bryce and Becca’s commitment, dedication and passion to agriculture are important to promoting and encouraging innovation and research in a constantly evolving industry. 

There are many other Arkansas teens I have the privilege to meet through the year who serve as great examples for the community and represent the future of our country. As Arkansans, we have a reason to be proud of the efforts of our young citizens. We should continue to encourage young Arkansans to make their communities, our state and our nation a better place. They are our future and our future is bright.