FFA members present care packages to Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team 3

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Story by David Altom, Public Affairs Office Deputy Director

Photos by Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, Public Affairs Office

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general of Kentucky, joins with members of KYADT 3 in receiving donations from Future Farmers of America in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 27.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 4, 2011) – If there’s ever any question whether agriculture is a passion for Kentuckians, just ask the members of the three Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Teams.

For the second year in a row the teams are the beneficiaries of an immense donation program conducted by the members of Kentucky’s Future Farmers of America. As packages continue to arrive in Afghanistan for KYADT2, Soldiers and Airmen assigned to KYADT3 got a little taste of the FFA’s generosity during a presentation of Kentucky-grown products Jan. 27at the Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort.

“We really enjoy helping the Kentucky Guard,” said Logan Goggin, Kentucky FFA state president.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to help people from other countries enjoy the same luxuries we do.

We as Americans have some of the lowest food prices in the world,” he said. “That’s due to the advances in technology and training in agriculture. To be able to share that is really a privilege.”

The care package items included Kentucky-produced country hams, Laughing Cow Cheese, Ruth Hunt bourbon balls and 50,000 pieces of penny candy. The care packages also included winter coats, gloves and other clothing for distribution to Afghan children.

“Our troops are extremely humbled by all the support we’ve been getting from so many of our fellow Kentuckians,” said Col. Neil Mullaney, KYADT 3 commander.  “We’re especially appreciative of the young people from the Future Farmers of America.”

Col. Neil Mullaney, KYADT 3 commander, talks to members of Future Farmers of America in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 27.

Mullaney said the FFA inspired his team to start up its own chapter when the Soldiers and Airmen arrive in Afghanistan later this year.

“We intend to establish the Future Farmers of Afghanistan,” he said. “We have to invest in the future of Afghanistan and we appreciate the inspiration the FFA here has provided us. We will take that same spirit with us when we deploy.”

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky, visited KYADT2 last year and expressed admiration for all they’ve accomplished.

“The work these Soldiers and Airmen are doing is simply amazing,” said Tonini.  “It’s not at all like what you see in the media. They’re providing veterinary training and agricultural marketing and beekeeping and helping women provide for their families.  They’ve been embraced by the towns and the tribal leaders because of the assistance they’ve provided.”

Steve Meredith assisted the FFA members in organizing the drive.

“I was standing in line at the post office filling out custom forms and mailing packages when someone asked if I had a son in Afghanistan,” said Meredith.  “I said, ‘No, ma’am. I’m doing this because I do not have a son in Afghanistan.’”

“It’s thanks to these Guardsmen that these young people can go to college and I can run my farm.  We owe them so much,” he said. “It’s hard to repay them.”

Two thirds of the funding for the donations for the KYADTs came from FFA members. Meredith said the Oneida Baptist Institute as the number one contributor in the endeavor.

“The FFA has really stood up for the second year in a row,” said Meredith.  “I can’t say enough good things about what they’ve done.”

Capt. Carla Getchell, KYADT 3 women's empowerment coordinator, chats with members of Future Farmers of America in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 27.

KYADTs are composed of Army and Air National Guardsmen with backgrounds and expertise in various sectors of the agribusiness and engineering fields and are formed to provide training and advice to Afghan universities, provincial ministries and local farmers. Teams have also implemented a successful women’s empowerment program, training Afghan women how to earn money and support their families through beekeeping and chicken farming.

Ten states currently take part in the agribusiness mission in Afghanistan.

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